June 1, 2003

Dan has found his combination "makes more power with less boost and a more efficient engine." Steve Grebeck had started the headers and tube work, which were finished by Bill Gilsbach. Mufflers are "custom-designed Darryl Bassani" units. The fuel system consists of a Weldon 2345 pump, a Weldon fuel-pressure regulator, Speed-Pro fuel rails, and 150-lb/hr Bosch fuel injectors. In an attempt to save as much weight as possible, Goodridge lightweight fittings and hoses have been employed, which weigh half as much as a traditional steel-braided line. Ignition is an MSD Digital-7, and Dan does all the tuning of the FAST computer system by himself.

The first stumbling block came just a few months later when the NMRA got wind of the new car. Digital images were sent to the NMRA technical director, who reviewed the design of the car. He loved the design, but the rear framerails had been modified to the point that it was felt the car was in violation of the "intent of the rule." Also, it was equipped with a removable transmission tunnel-another violation of the NMRA rule book. While Dan and Keith argued that "it's impossible to build a legal 25.1C-certified car without removing the transmission tunnel," the rule stood. These interpretations outlawed the car from NMRA before it ever made a race.

While it was a setback, the team was determined to complete the car. They set their sights on debuting it at World Ford Challenge 5 in St. Louis last May. The car was equipped with the ladder-bar suspension and the required 28x10.5-inch rear slicks. On Tuesday of the WFC5 week, Dan and his crew chief, Rick "Billy" Irvin, finished assembly of the car and headed off to Milan Dragway in Milan, Michigan, for testing. They had the typical "new-car blues," but the car showed promise.

You are looking at 1,800 hp of Livernois Motorsports' finest. The record-setting 369 ci of small-block Ford consist of a 9.2-inch-deck Ford Racing Performance Parts aluminum block, an LA Billet steel crank, GRP aluminum rods, 8.8:1 JE forged pistons, a Billet Fabrication oil pan, a Petersen's wet-vac oil pump, and a custom Livernois camshaft of undisclosed dimensions. The Brodix Neal heads have been CNC-cut in-house at Livernois, and they flow 380 cfm on the intake and 260 cfm on the exhaust (at 0.800-inch lift). Lifters and rockers are by Jesel, and they work with 2.18-inch Stealth titanium intake and 1.625-inch exhaust valves that are fabricated from a custom material. The Edelbrock Yates intake has also been ported by Livernois' Rick Swain. All engine assembly was performed by Livernois' Dennis Kline. The throttle body is a 90mm Accufab piece, which gets 28 psi from a Precision turbocharger (either 91, 101, or 106 mm) through a "small" Spearco intercooler mounted under the dash.

Wednesday came, and Dan and Billy were off to Norwalk, Ohio, for some eighth-mile passes. The car smoked the tires as they added power and Keith fine-tuned the suspension. Thursday, the car was at Indianapolis for chassis certification and more testing. It passed the strict 25.1C certification, and Dan made his first full passes. The new car ran 7.94 and 7.95 on its first two full hits. Rain fell at WFC5 on Friday, and Dan was nervous because they couldn't do the critical final testing laps the car needed so badly.

"We knew the ladder bars and small tires," Dan says. "We had a new car, but we had a proven combination. That was the only thing we were confident in."

Consistent 1.15-second short times come from the efficient Skinny Kid chassis work. For the front suspension, Keith did up his custom K-member and A-arm package positioned in the traditional location. Struts are by Strange. In the rear are full-sized aluminum wheel tubs large enough to accommodate "Pro 5.0" tires. The completely custom rear member was built by Keith to house either 9-inch or 9.5-inch guts. Inside, a Strange spool; Strange 3.89 gears (typically); and Strange 40-spline, gun-drilled axles fill the tubes. In the configuration photographed, the four-link suspension uses an antiroll bar to provide forward motion. Shocks are AFCO double-adjustables. Brakes all around are by Strange. A special note: The lightest this car can weigh is 3,060 pounds!

It was Saturday of the WFC5. Becoming accustomed to the Bruno/Lenco transmission, the guys dumped trans fluid on the track and smoked the tires for three passes. However, Dan was fine-tuning the FAST computer system, and the car was making some amazing power. By eliminations, Dan, Billy, and Keith were still working on the car trying to get it to run with the tough Pro-Street Outlaw crowd. For round-one eliminations, they faced the tough Jason Cohen, and Dan admits the team guessed on the setup for that pass. Luckily, Jason redlighted. Dan ran a 7.95/178, and the car was beginning to settle down. In round two, Joe Bucaro stepped up. Dan survived with another 7.95/178. For round three, Dan went a 7.86/182. Suddenly, it was down to just Dan and Bob Glidden.

"At this point the track was going away," Dan says. "We wanted to get from one end to the other. We took power out. We didn't want to smoke the tires against Bob Glidden!" History shows that Dan made the right move. It was Bob who ran with too much power, smoking the tires and losing control of his car, while Dan made the clean, winning 7.89 pass.