June 1, 2003

Horse Sense: Dan is grateful to Rick "Billy" Irvin for his dedication to this car. "I would struggle to race without Rick," Dan says. "I probably wouldn't even race if it wasn't for [him]." He also thanks the entire staff at Livernois Motorsports, Norma Wallis (his mom), Scott Amesse, and all his sponsors: Griffin Radiator, Meziere, ProCoat Powdercoating, Wires & Pliers (wired the car), Brodix (heads), JE Pistons, AFCO (shocks), GRP (rods), LA Billet Crankshaft, Bassani Xhaust, MSD Ignition, Neal Chance Converters, and Precision Turbo.

Dan's 7.17/198 mindblower started as a body-in-white at Keith Engling's Skinny Kid Race Cars shop [(248) 889-2542]. Paint is by Carl McCullach, and-as is the rest of the car-it is flawless. The front end is a carbon-fiber nose courtesy of Mark Wil-kinson at RaceCraft Inc. Wing, parachute and mount, wheelie bars, and all external details are courtesy of Skinny Kid (aka "The Real Slim Shady"). Rims are Weld Aluma Stars that wear M/T front-runners and a variety of M/T rear tires-the biggest of which are 33x10.5W steamrollers.

Since 2000 it has been difficult to pick up a Mustang magazine and not find something in there about Dan Millen and the amazing cars he's built from his Livernois Motorsports speed shop [(313) 561-5500]. We featured his '01 NMRA Super Street Outlaw championship car in our May '01 issue ("White Frightening," p. 108). Since then, and during Dan's run to the NMRA SSO '01 championship, 5.0&SF has been filled with stories of the exploits of this 26-year-old phenom.

The interior of this monster Outlaw car shows off the handiwork of Skinny Kid and the detailed perfection of the Livernois Motorsports crew. The full 25.1C-certified cage work keeps Dan safe and headed in a straight line. Inside are a full array of Racepak gauges, race seats, a removable steering wheel (to aid entry/exit), and the two rods and one reverser of the Hurst shifter for the Lenco three-speed trans in the transmission tunnel. While Dan has broken a used Lenco five times during his '02 run, the new unit in the car has been flawless. Dan can't thank Marty Chance of Neal Chance Converters enough for the dedication he has shown to this car and its performance. Datalogging is via a V300 Racepak. Dan typically launches at 5,000 rpm, shifts at 8,600 rpm, and goes through the finish line (at close to 200 mph) at 8,600 rpm. What a ride!

While his '92 notchback may have raised the bar in SSO competition with consistent 7.90s at more than 180 mph, Dan soon turned his attention away from the class. At the end of 2001, he slapped a bigger turbo on the car, along with a set of 29x10.5W tires, to try his hand at Outlaw-10.5 heads-up racing. The car responded with a 7.61-second e.t. at more than 187 mph, but it wasn't really competitive and the chassis was worn out.

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.

"We knew the car could have gone 7.50s if it had to," Dan says, "but we didn't want to turn it up. There were three reasons why we built this new car. We wanted something we could run anywhere-NMRA, NMCA, FFW, and the Outlaw-10.5 races. Safety was also a concern-especially now with the announcement that any car that can go more than 170 mph will have to be 25.1C-certified. And, the old car was built to go 8.60s, not 7.50s. We had really pushed things with [the '92 coupe]!"

You know where Dan headed-right back to Keith Engling and his Skinny Kid Race Cars chassis shop. Keith is the quiet genius who has helped his clients put together some of the hottest cars in the industry. It was Keith and Dan's vision to build a car that could compete in all those venues. That meant having a car that would be limited to a real 28x10.5-inch tire and ladder-bar suspension at NMRA SSO to the extreme of running 33x10.5W tires and a full-on four-link rear suspension. Combined with sanctioning-body turbocharger restrictions, that also meant being able to adjust for as much as a 500hp swing from the 91mm head unit to an outrageous 106mm unit. It was a groundbreaking project that no one else had ever attempted, but Keith sat down with his computerized suspension-design board and came up with an arrangement that would work. The project was a go by November 2001.

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.

Dan Millen (left) and Rick "Billy" Irvan.

But the WFC5 race was just the beginning of things for Dan and his amazing new '02 GT. By the time the NMCA hit Columbus, Ohio, Dan outfitted the car with the four-link suspension, 31x10.5W tires, and the class-limit 101mm turbo-again showing the adaptability of the new GT. Dan slammed down a fastest-ever pass in Super Street competition with a 7.29 second/195 mph effort (at 3,140 pounds).

From there it was off to the Clash of the Titans in San Antonio, Texas, where Dan and his Livernois team again made history. Running on 33x10.5W tires, with a 106mm turbo, and weighing 3,100 pounds, Dan's GT blasted off a string of the fastest passes in Outlaw-10.5W history-the best of which was a mind-numbing 7.17-second e.t. at more than 198 mph (1.21-second short time on the rear tires). On his way to dominating this event, Dan also ran a 7.20, a 7.26, and a 7.18.

For 2003, Dan will keep this car in action. His goal is to run 6.90s at more than 200 mph on the 10.5W tires-a performance plateau no one would have dreamed possible until Dan came onto the scene.

5.0 TECH SPECS
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block FRPP 9.2 aluminum
Displacement 392
Heads Brodix Neal
Camshaft Livernois custom
Intake Edelbrock Yates
Throttle Body Accufab 90mm
Fuel System Weldon 2345 pump, Weldon fuel-pressure regulator, Speed-Pro fuel rails, and 150-lb/hr Bosch fuel injectors
Exhaust Steve Grebeck/Bill Gilsbach headers and custom Bassani mufflers
Power Adder Precision Turbo
Transmission Lenco
Rearend Skinny Kid 9-in or 9.5-in w/Strange spool, Strange 3.89 gears (typically), and Strange 40-spline gun-drilled axles
ELECTRONICS
Engine Management FAST
Ignition MSD Digital 7
Gauges Racepak
SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
FRONT SUSPENSION
K-Member Skinny Kid
Struts Strange
Springs Strange
Brakes Strange
Wheels Weld Aluma Stars
Tires Mickey Thompson
REAR SUSPENSION
Traction Device Antiroll bar/four-link or ladder bar
Shocks AFCO double-adjustable
Springs AFCO
Brakes Strange
Wheels Weld Aluma Stars
Tires Mickey Thompson