Eric English
October 31, 2006
Photos By: Steve Turner

Horse Sense: If you need a reminder of what makes the Fox Mustang a performance legend, consider this: Louis reports his '91 notch tips the scales at a svelte 2,950 pounds with driver after just minimal weight paring. With a general rule of thumb being 0.10 of a second in e.t. for every 100 pounds, just think how killer the new-gen Mustangs would be at a similar weight.

The recent birthday that marked Louis Sylvester Jr.'s 21st year was of special significance, but perhaps not in the way some would think. No, rather than partying it up with his buddies at every opportunity, Louis chose a considerably more constructive path-partnering with his father on the '91 LX Factory Stocker seen here. Purchasing a race car was a first-time event for both Sylvesters, but one that had been in the making for several years-a natural extension for a car-crazed father and son.

During his formative years, Louis was fortunate to have a good role model set before him as his father tinkered with several modified Mustangs. First was a '68 fastback, followed later by a '94 Cobra. Rather than being involved in a hard-core competitive environ, the senior Sylvester's choice was the street and show scene. Fact is, Louis' cousin John Leslie Jr. led the family to NMRA racing at the dawn of the new millennium, where Louis and his dad subsequently got their hands dirty helping out for several seasons before striking out on their own. By assisting John, the whole clan was privy to a steep learning curve, and Louis is grateful to his cousin for the opportunity.

It was just last summer when Louis discovered this LX notch being offered for sale by O&C Racing, at which point any thought of building a car from scratch evaporated. Here was a chance to get into a well-assembled turnkey car and jump immediately into the action. Needless to say, father and son seized the opportunity, splitting the financial impact fifty-fifty. With the NMRA tour already in full swing, Louis made just three races toward the latter part of the season, finishing 13th in the points standings among 29 participants. Of course, everyone expects a better showing the second time around, and the winter respite was an opportunity to change a handful of items that should help car and driver work better together.

From all indications, the Sylvesters bought themselves a rock-solid platform from which to launch a fruitful racing effort. From a visual perspective, the LX is a looker, with its Prowler Orange PPG topcoat, Kaenen cowl hood, and Bogart Billet Lite rolling stock. Clearly more important, however, are the mechanicals, where O&C also seems to have done the car right. Between the strut towers is a super-sanitary 302-inch powerhouse put together by Steve Petty at Pro-Line Racing Engines, featuring an internally balanced Scat 4340 crank, I-beam rods, and coated CP pistons. As per Factory Stock rules, the cam retains stock specs, and Louis runs the original E7 cylinder heads, which garner a 250-pound weight break compared with the better flowing GT-40 iron castings that are also permitted. Up top sits the class near-standard '93 Cobra intake, teamed with an Accufab 70mm throttle body, while the other end of the airflow stream features BBK headers, a Dr. Gas X-shape exhaust crossover, Spin Tech muffs, and 211/42-inch pipes.

Updates to the car since it was purchased include tuning via SCT and Sutton Ford High Performance, a revamped T5 by Pro Motion Performance, and rear-suspension alterations such as a TRZ antiroll bar, TRZ lower control arms, and QA1 adjustable shocks. Several other revisions were required due to recent NMRA rulebook updates, including replacing the spool in the 8.8 and axing the Strange front brakes in favor of the stock arrangement.

At press time, Louis hadn't cracked the top 10 in points, but he is anticipating considerably more success than his late introduction allowed for last year. If nothing else, making more events and vehicle familiarity would be a big help. Time will tell just how successful this father-and-son team will be, but we can say with certainty that Louis is full of enthusiasm, and his lot in life is looking pretty good for a young gun. We should point out that Louis not only gets to pedal this metallic orange racer, but he's also enjoying a sales job with Sutton Ford's popular High Performance division in Matteson, Illinois. As such, he's quick to thank Sutton for all its support, as well as other sponsors Indicom Electric Company and Crescent Electric-along with good ol' mom and dad.

We wish Louis all the luck in the world as he lets his competitive juices cut loose and look forward to the first meeting between him and fellow Factory Stock racer/cousin John Leslie Jr. Funny, something tells us all the good will Louis feels for John's tutelage will be suppressed when the inevitable face-off happens at the tree. May the best man win!

With Louis working in the sales department for Sutton Ford High Performance, it was a given that Sutton would be involved with tweaking the dimensionally stock 5.0. After all was said and done, the engine responded with a reported 300 horses and 350 lb-ft of torque as measured on Sutton's own Dynojet chassis dyno-enough oomph to run a best of 12.38 at 108 mph.

Per class rules, Factory Stock cars must retain a near stock interior such as Louis'. Exceptions include the obvious racing buckets, six-point rollbar, and Auto Meter gauges, while the rear seat can be removed as long as the area is neatly trimmed out.