5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
Jason Cenora's 2000 Mustang GT: Competition
With 42 first-place trophies in the trunk, Jason turned car-show pro
Horse Sense: Since he's turned into a bit of a professional, Jason has learned to use every angle to keep eyes on his Mustang, which in turn keeps his sponsors happy. One such trick was having a video monitor and a PlayStation2 installed in the trunk. It keeps the kids occupied so their parents have more time to check out the car and ask questions. Clever, eh?
We've long been impressed with the kind of dedication of time and monetary expenditures shown by racers giving it all to win a race. These guys take sick pride in last-minute engine rebuilds, trackside tuning, and all-night repair jobs. Racers don't do it for the money or the fame, but the thrill of beating the competition. When you think of car-show contestants, the first images that come to mind are lawn chairs, wax jobs, and spray detailers-but the car-show world is changing, and it takes more and more outrageous cars to get noticed. Car-show participants are now more like car-show combatants trying to outdo each other's wild displays of excess.
One such wax warrior is Jason Cenora of La Mirada, California. He set a much higher goal than just winning a trophy at his local Mustang show, and he aggressively sought sponsorship across the aftermarket to make his goal a reality. "I set out to build a car that would win and not be your common show car," Jason explains. "It's rare to see a highly modified Mustang at a national-level (non-Mustang) car show. I wanted to have a complete car-front to back and top to bottom. Every facet of this car has been polished, painted, powdercoated, or anodized."
With one look at the car, it's obvious Jason takes this car-show business seriously. He took the basic Saleen look to a new level. As with most of the modifications on this car, Xtreme Mustang Performance got the call to add an APM Mach II fiberglass hood, a Saleen SR wing (originally designed for the SN-95 Mustangs, but retrofitted to his New Edge car), and XMP carbon-fiber front splitters. These parts and what remains of the stock bodywork were doused in the factory Atlantic Blue hue by Merzee's Paint and Body in Santa Fe Springs, California, which serves as a nice contrast to the Performance Silver lightning graphic adorning each of the car's flanks. Of course, wheels can make or break a car's look, and Jason wouldn't go halfway there, so he added 19-inch Falken Koblenz rims wrapped in Falken rubber. In total, the car's look exhibits a subtle flash that's refreshingly uncommon on most show cars of this caliber.
Like most Mustang enthusiasts, Jason was on his way to a serious modification addiction, and it wasn't just about making the car look good. Of course, he wanted to take a less obvious approach to stand out from the crowd. "I started out with the idea of having a fast, sleek, and cool car, but the obsession took over and it's never stopped," he says. "I wanted as much power as I could get out of the stock block and heads. Most guys would rather get the ease of power out of the better-flowing Four-Valve Cobra heads. I wanted to be unique and get the most out of the original setup."
Part of his unique approach was to select a Paxton Novi 2000 supercharger, but set it up with a huge Mondo blow-off valve to give the combination that hissing turbo sound. Supporting 20 pounds of air-to-air intercooled boost and a splash of nitrous from a full-boogie Nitrous Express system is no small task. Jason turned to his friend Bob Smalls at the aptly named Bob Smalls Performance to assemble a stout Two-Valve. The result is a 0.030-over, 284ci with a forged Cobra crank, Manley H-beam rods, and JE pistons with custom valve reliefs. The stock heads received a Stage 4 port job followed by an Extrude Honing to smooth out any imperfections. Likewise, Bob worked over a Reichard Racing manifold to clear the way. Huge 0.612-inch-lift Crower cams make all the right noises.
That's one wild Two-Valve, and Jason says its good for 709 hp as it sits, with the power crossing over 900 with the juice. That's our kind of show car, and apparently most other people like it too, as Jason has to be on the verge of building a garage to house all his trophies. In 2005, he says the car brought home four Best of Show awards, seven Best Engine awards, three Best Ford/Domestic awards, and a whopping 42 first-place trophies. Since he couldn't afford to make all this happen by himself, Jason became quite adept at wooing sponsors for his car-so much so that's he's turned show-car building into a small business. He now builds cars for outfits such as Paxton to display at trade shows and the like.
"With the support of my sponsors and family, I decided to trade in the time card for the freedom of doing what most of us guys love doing most-building cars," Jason says. "On a small scale, my company, Team Xtreme Motorsports, builds promotional vehicles to fulfill company needs for media/show exposure and market research." If Jason's company builds cars like his Mustang, getting exposure should be no problem.