Chris Hemer
August 1, 2005
Photos By: Steve Turner

It is written that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. It's an eloquent way of saying, "no matter what you are facing, you can't accomplish it until you start." For Mustang racers, it's a proverb that rings true-it's common to start off with something small, then work your way up to the kind of horsepower you really want. But in the case of Sam Brickey, he took this ideology to the extreme. Sam started off with just a handful of horses, then traded up to more than a thousand in less than three years.

"I ran go-karts and built Briggs and Stratton engines for local karters while running the WKA circuit," Sam explains. "After winning the stock championships in 1985, I turned my sights toward a completely different type of horsepower." If you're guessing this is where Sam talks about his transition to 5.0 Mustangs, just wait a second, it gets better. "American Saddle bred show horses," he says. "I traveled to several states and went through a number of horses, showing at major shows, winning numerous classes, and bringing home a nice share of trophies." But when Bristol Dragway, located about an hour away from Sam's hometown of Dungannon, Virginia, started its "Street Fights" a few years ago, Sam started to think about a horse of a different color. "I thought since racing and 'horse'-power seem to be a constant in my chemistry, I decided to sell out of the show horses and saddle up a different type," he says.

Sam brought home this '89 GT in the spring of '01, with the goal of transforming it into a 10-second car. Sam and his father, Dan did most of the work themselves, setting up the chassis with a 10-point rollcage, Maximum Motorsports subframe connectors, and Eibach drag springs. Front end details consist of a tubular K-member and control arms by AJE Racing, Koni struts, and Maximum camber plates. The rear uses Racecraft upper control arms, Maximum lower control arms, QA1 shocks, and a Maximum antiroll bar. Weld Alumastar wheels, Mickey Thompson tires, and Wilwood disc brakes are used at all four corners.

"We started out in '03 with a 302 stroked to 340 cubic inches, then added a Vortech YS-Trim supercharger, a C4 transmission, and a 125hp shot of nitrous," says Sam. With help from Rick Anderson and the crew at Anderson Ford Motorsport as well as Beau Dunnivant of Blue Oval Classics, Sam was able to rip off 9.7s at 143 mph-well below his 10-second goal.

Of course, it wasn't long before Sam felt the need to add still more horses to his stable, so he contacted Bennett Racing for a full-tilt 351W stroked to 400 cubes. The engine spins a Scat billet crank, Oliver steel rods, and forged 8.7:1 pistons wearing Speed Pro rings. A Bennett custom-grind roller cam actuates massive Del West 2.08 intake/1.60 exhaust valves riding in AFR 205 CC aluminum heads ported by J&J Machine Shop in Kingsport, Tennessee. Topping it all off is a ported Edelbrock Super Victor intake, 160-lb/hr injectors, and an Accufab 90mm throttle body.

Since this engine could make use of significantly more huff, Sam stepped up to a ProCharger F2 unit, which now blows 28 pounds of boost through a Precision Turbo intercooler mounted under the dash. The C4 was replaced by a Neal Powerglide with Neal Chance 5,500-rpm converter, which puts more than 1,000 hp to the tires with help from a Mark Williams driveshaft and a Ford nine-inch rearend.

"We worked tirelessly to make sure each bolt, wire, clamp, and so on were properly positioned, welded, and secured in anticipation of the extra power," Sam says. To say the hard work paid off is an understatement-the car has since run a best e.t. of 8.56 at 163 mph, and captured the win at the NMRA World Finals in the Wild Street class with consecutive runs of 8.67, 8.62, and 8.60 all in the 163-mph range.