Dale Amy
September 1, 2008
Photos By: Josh Rosoff
This is what a 200-mph S197 looks like. It began life as a humble '06 V-6, but owner Greg Murray and builder Predator Performance have crafted what they hope will be a contender for the title in the Silver State Classic Challenge's gonzo Unlimited Class, where the only limit to speed is power and reliability-oh, and maybe common sense.

Horse Sense: If you're tied up in September, a twin event is held every May. Run over the same course, it's known as the Nevada Open Road Challenge. The air is cooler then, so your ride may run even faster.

Some readers may already be aware of that orgy of on-road vehicular velocity known as the Silver State Classic Challenge. Others may be dumbfounded to learn that there exists a stretch of public two-lane blacktop north of Las Vegas where, during one weekend every September, hard-core speed addicts can firmly nail the loud pedal to the metal for 90 miles without fear of incurring the wrath of Smokey, Big Brother, or The Man.

This sanctioned open-road race event takes place on a portion of Nevada State Route 318, a nerve-testing combination of long straights and twisty bits, beginning at Lund and running south to the finish line near Hiko. No, this is not Hollywood-style highway anarchy; Route 318 is obviously closed to the public for the event, and competitors are sent off one at a time to rip their way through the course.

There are a number of lesser classes, known as Tech Specs, where the object is to cover the distance as close as possible to a specified average speed-say 95, 125, or 150 mph-without ever exceeding that class' specific maximum speed. In the case of the 150-mph race, 165 mph is the maximum. Then there is the big-dog Unlimited Class, where the object is much simpler: Put those 90 miles of pavement behind you as fast as you and your equipment possibly can, and may the fastest, bravest soul win.

That brings us to Pennsylvania Ford-dealer Greg Murray, who has been running an '03 Terminator Cobra in the SSCC's Grand Sport 150-mph Class for four years. Greg finally decided he needed a new weapon in order to launch an assault on the Unlimited Class, because the speedo had better register over 200 mph to have any hope of being competitive. The basis for the project was a new '06 V-6 coupe off of his lot. Best we can tell, almost everything save for the basic shell was torn asunder to be replaced by hardware capable of attaining-and surviving-200 mph, all while remaining street-legal. Predator Performance in DuBois, Pennsylvania, took on the daunting task of building the beast.

Clearly, running essentially flat-out for 90 desert miles simply isn't going to happen without a great deal of reliability. Underhood, Greg opted for tried-and-true pushrod power constructed around Dart's Iron Eagle block, bored and stroked to 400 cubes. It all rests on a Maximum Motorsports tubular K-member.

Truth be told, he originally thought of going with a true big-block, but he succumbed to the logic that a force-fed small-block would breathe better in the hot desert air. In that vein, AFR 225cc heads were brought onboard to provide unrestricted passage to the focused hurricane of a ProCharger F-1R race blower, all distributed by Trick Flow's Box-R Series intake manifold. Though capable of much more, the F-1R is spun to only 15 psi of boost, at least for the time being. The custom-fab'd, side-exit, 3-inch exhaust is possibly overkill, as the combustion chambers are likely sucked dry by the car's sheer velocity. Just kidding-we think.

As for the chassis, Greg and Predator took no chances, relying heavily on the race credentials of Multimatic Motorsports-developed Dynamic Suspensions coilovers, as used on Ford Racing's Boy Racer and Man Racer road-race cars. The hood is also from Multimatic and appears to be the version used on the FR500GT racers. The bulk of the body's aero package is from 3dCarbon-including an underbody diffuser, but the rear wing is a GT 500 piece. Hunkered over 10-inch-wide Fikse rims at all four corners, the car gives a 200-mph appearance while standing still.

With an obviously huge investment on the line (not to mention his own carcass), Greg would have been foolish to chintz out on brakes, so race-caliber hardware from AP Racing is bolted up front and rear. Speaking of the rear, it consists of a strengthened 8.8-inch housing filled with Moser axles and a Torsen differential, all chilled by a Setrab oil cooler. Greg doesn't care to reveal the information on axle ratios, thank you.

The cockpit is race-car-Spartan but wickedly attractive despite its purpose-built functionality. Class rules, not surprisingly, dictate a full 'cage, as well as an onboard fire-suppression system. Other competition-inspired hardware includes a Sweet (the company, not our adjective) collapsible steering column with a removable steering wheel. And the Thermo-Control floor mats are likely a necessary luxury when thundering flat-out through the desert heat with the fiery breath of roughly 870 rwhp roaring by a few millimeters below the floorpan. Greg says the combo is good for plenty more power but is de-tuned for reliability.

So far, Greg says there are about 200 miles on the beast, so we guess it's been on the road for just over an hour.

Race-car equipped but still suitable for occasional street use, the cabin is enveloped in a 10-point 'cage, the floor mats are heat-insulating, and the collapsible steering column and removable wheel are competition hardware from Sweet Manufacturing. Notice the rally computer in front of the passenger Sparco bucket. As in a rally, a (brave, testosterone-laden) navigator must ride along with course notes to prime the driver on upcoming road features/hazards.

Will your engine churn out 870 rwhp and still survive a 90-mile, flat-out tear through the Nevada heat? That's what this 400-inch, Dart-based small-block is designed to do, which explains why its hulking ProCharger F-1R is dialed back to a mere 15 pounds of boost.

5.0 Tech Specs
Engine And Drivetrain
Dart Machinery
400 i
JE custom
Compression Ratio
Jones Racing Cams, roller
Cam Specs
0.660/0.646 lift at 0.50, 260/263 duration
AFR 225
Trick Flow Box-R Series
Power Adder
ProCharger F-1R
Throttle Body
Accufab 90mm
RC Engineering
Fuel Pump
Dual, in ATL Supercell 32-gal fuel cell
Custom 3-in w/Spin Tech mufflers
Tremec T56
Tilton 71/4-in
8.8-in, Torsen diff, Moser axles, Setrab rearend cooler

Engine Management
Auto Meter

Suspension And Chassis
Front Suspension
Maximum Motorsports
Control arms
Maximum Motorsports
Dynamic Suspensions coilover
Dynamic Suspensions coilover
Steering Rack
FRPP reduced-assist
AP Racing, 14.5-in, six-piston
Fikse, 19x10-in
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup
Rear Suspension
Dynamic Suspensions
Dynamic Suspensions
Control arms
Steeda upper and lower
AP Racing, four-piston
Fikse, 19x10-in
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup