September 1, 2004

As with so many cars that are featured in magazines, this '91 hatchback has been a project of a dedicated father and son team. This is a common thread in the performance aftermarket because there's nothing dads enjoy more than teaching their sons how to make the family hot rod go a little faster.

Big Kenny Chonoski got his start in the Ford world with a '67 Mustang fastback that he bought when he turned 16. That car taught him plenty about how to modify a Mustang, and just as importantly, what not to do to a car that you want to drive daily and still be able to run 12.50s. Even after the '67 was long gone, Big Kenny still had the need for speed. He answered that calling by driving a bracket Ford pickup for a friend that went well into the 10.20s. It's easy to imagine that while all this was going on, it must have left an indelible impact on the psyche of his son, Kenny.

Now a 20-year-old MRI technician who is training to be a professional pilot, Kenny has picked up where his dad left off. Of course, Big Kenny has been there every step of the way, helping with funding, experience, and-most importantly-adding the guiding touch only a father can provide.

"My father first purchased the ['91] when I was 14 years old," Kenny says. "It had only 36,000 miles on it, and it was super clean. It was so nice, we didn't want to do anything to it. It took us six months before we did a full exhaust and tires on it. The plan was to drive it for five years, buy another car, and park this one. It was just so clean-I just couldn't [make a race car out of it]. I began driving it to high school, and that's where it was stolen."

That's right. Some rat stole the family's 5.0 from the high-school parking lot. The car was returned to the family five weeks later, but the thieves had gutted it-stripping it to the bare shell. In an ironic twist of fate, however, the car had been transformed into the perfect starting point for a race-car buildup. The thieves had actually done to that Mustang what the Chonoski family couldn't bring themselves to do. With the insurance money and a stripped Mustang, Kenny suddenly found himself presented with a unique opportunity-it was time to go racing! To put a positive spin on things, Big Kenny even named their team Stripped For Me Racing, and the moniker stuck.

When the car emerged a couple years later, it looked much the way you see it before you today. The 5.0 mill was gone, and in its place was a rock-'em, sock-'em 422-inch Windsor just waiting to be slapped with the gas. C&T Race Cars of Houston installed a cage and a ladder-bar suspension to make the most of the small-block Ford, and the Chonoskis were off to the races. Shakedown runs on motor resulted in a promising best of 9.83. But when the first nitrous run came-a 250-horse plate system-that's when the magic happened. With only 1,000 psi of bottle pressure, the silver hatch cracked off a promising 8.63. Reasoning that with more bottle pressure they could easily best that number, the father/son team heated up the bottle and went back to the starting line. The Mustang went instantly on its bumper, and the resultant landing crushed the headers and other undercarriage components. It was a rude welcome to the world of Texas-style Outlaw street racing, but Kenny couldn't get enough.

While he is still getting his feet wet in the world of competitive heads-up streetcar-style drag racing, he's already made a big impact on the scene. When we talked with him in mid-April, he had just won his first race at the the King of the Strip series, which is run at the eighth-mile tracks in Sealy and Evadale, Texas. Running in the Outlaw Street class, Kenny regularly faces off against 16-plus-car fields, with $1,500 cash going to the survivor of the heads-up eliminator. He's also made a huge impact on the true-10-inch-tired class at the Clash of the Titans.

"There's more eighth-mile tracks down here," Kenny says of the wild Outlaw racing that goes on in Texas. "They just put in another new one-that's five within 100 miles, and they all want to pay out for heads-up Outlaws. Toss in the Clash [of the Titans], and the racing is unbelievable down here!" For 2004, you can find Kenny at the Clash of the Titans as well as the King of the Strip, duking it out with his archrivals-the turbocharger cars-for the top prize.

Both Kennys want to thank their crew chief Brandon Perryman, their good buddy Jonathan Kraak, Mike Savoie, and Coach-as well as the rest of their family for putting up with all this Mustang racing in the first place.

The hatchback will soon be updated to the new SFI 25.2 chassis certification by Coach. Once Kenny's pilot career is in full swing, he wants to put a turbo-charger on the car. It seems a little odd to us the way Kenny has set up his car to take advantage of the turbocharged cars' weaknesses. You know, if he keeps beating the turbocharger boys, we may just see them switch their combinations back to nitrous. Now, wouldn't that be something?

5.0 TECH SPECS
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block SVO 9.5-in deck (351W)
Displacement 422 ci
Cylinder Heads Edelbrock Victor Race
Camshaft "Big" Cam Motion solid-roller
Intake Manifold Edelbrock Super Victor, ported
Power Adder NOS Big Shot Plate
and Fogger (225 and {{{300}}} hp, respectively)
Exhaust Kook's 2-in primary
long tubes w/4-in collectors,
DynoMax mufflers
Fuel System Barry Grant 280,
Aeroquip -10 lines; BG regulator
Carburetor Steve Taylor (PRC) 1050 Dominator
Transmission Trans-King Power
Glide w/{{{4000}}}-stall A1 converter
Rearend Dana 60 w/Strange
spool, 35-spline axles, 4.10 gears
ELECTRONICS
Ignition MSD 7AL2, MSD Pro Power
HVC coil, MSD plug wires,
NGK No.10s
Gauges Auto Meter
SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
Front Suspension
K-Member D&D
A-Arms Stock
Springs QA1
Struts QA1
Wheels Weld Drag Lites
Tires Mickey Thompson
Brakes Stock
REAR Suspension
Springs Aldan American
Shocks Aldan American
Traction Devices Ladder bars w/Panhard bar
Wheels Weld Drag Lites (15x10)
Tires Mickey Thompson 9.5x10.5
Brakes Stock
Chassis Stiffening C&T Race Cars full cage