5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
Fox Mustang Drag Car - Fire Storm
With J.R. Granatelli At The Wheel Of Raphael Morkvenas' Sso Car, A Storm Is Sure To Follow
Horse Sense: Aside from Profile Racecraft, which is Raphael's side project, his main source of income is from his business, Automated Solutions. The company builds machines for the home improvement and construction industries, specializing in machinery designed to make countertops and kitchen cabinets for home and hotel/motel installations.
There seems to be a trend lately. We've been writing stories about people who started life as Chevy fans, only to find greener grass on the Ford side of the fence. "I started out as a Chevy guy with a Chevelle," says Raphael Morkvenas.
We don't know anyone who could own a Chevelle and not race it, so we're not surprised to hear that the car saw regular dragstrip duty. Raphael still owns the Chevelle, but he has turned his serious racing efforts over to the Super Street Outlaw Mustang you see here.
Raphael-or "Ralphy" or "Wiggums" as he is affectionately known to his friends-grew up around Bob Kurgan and Mike Post. Being around racers and going to events fueled his love, so he bought his own 5.0 Mustang to get in on the action. Eventually, the car received a 351 Windsor with a Vortech T-Trim supercharger, a C4 transmission, and a TRZ Motorsports suspension. Bob repeatedly tried to get Raphael to join him, Mike Post, and Chocolate Chip Havemann in the NMRA's EFI Renegade ranks. Raphael didn't want to race against his friends, so he decided to go in the Super Street Outlaw direction.
However, when upgrades for that direction took too long, ultimately becoming outdated before the car was finished, he took the bull by the horns-or should we say, the sawzall by the handle. Basically, Raphael went nuts on the car by cutting everything out and starting over. Hence the birth of Raphael's side project, Profile Racecraft. Thankfully his friend Rob White owns LRT Chassis in Streamwood, Illinois, and he was able to show Raphael the chassis-building ropes. Rob came over in his spare time and helped Raphael line up the chassis, assisting with measurements and alignment. Raphael credits much of the work on the car to Rob and his expertise.
Thankfully, Raphael's family background is in machinery, so the mechanical and tool knowledge was already there. Profile Racecraft came about from Raphael's need to get things done on his car in a timely manner, without having to wait for another shop to fit him in. Profile Racecraft has one full-time employee, but it's mostly an after-hours playground for Raphael. After this article hits the streets, we expect more employees will be needed.
When the car was completed, Raphael needed a driver. He reasoned it would be easier for him to oversee the maintenance of the car and let someone else handle the driving duties. Bob knew J.R. Granatelli was looking to get back in a race car, so he put the two of them together, putting J.R. in the seat for at least 2007 and 2008.
J.R. needs no introduction, but for those that don't know, he owns Granatelli Motor Sports. His family has deep Indianapolis 500 roots, at one time he owned Paxton Superchargers, and he has several storied years as a Mustang racer.
Raphael has raced the car, running even quicker than J.R., but he would rather not stress over the driving. "I couldn't have found a better person to drive the car," Raphael says. "He's conservative, which is what I like. Some people get in a car and put it on the roof right away, but I knew J.R. wasn't going to do that." Well-there was that small fire at the NMRA Reynolds, Georgia, race, but we won't dwell on that. Otherwise, the car ran unscathed in 2007.
The car's fastest pass in 2007 was 7.70 at 186 mph, but the ultimate goal is to be the fastest in NMRA Super Street Outlaw land. "We want to run with the best," Raphael says.
We hear a storm brewing...