KJ Jones Senior Technical Editor
February 1, 2009
Photos By: Steve Turner
As a Ford-dealership owner, it's a no-brainer that Carl Barnett returned to the driver's seat in a Mustang. This Shelby-esque beauty actually started life as an '06 Mustang GT. But thanks to Vic Custer and his team at East Texas Race Cars, the one-time stocker is now a full-blown race car that takes the concept of show and go to an entirely new level.

Horse Sense: "Race on Sunday; sell on Monday." As president and CEO of the Barnett Auto Group, a Houston-area dealership conglomerate that includes Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury stores, we're willing to bet that Carl Barnett has that idea in his head every time he takes his beautiful Outlaw 'Stang down the dragstrip.

As the NMRA enters its eleventh year, there are two things that are definite when it comes to the close encounters of a Mustang kind we experience throughout the season. First, it's pretty much a given that at each venue on the race tour we're going to see monster burnouts, wicked launches, and sometimes unbelievable e.t.'s and speeds, all laid down by the heavy-hitting Mustangs and hardcore 'Stangbangers that are-without question-the heart-and-soul of the association. However, for a magazine like 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords, in which some of the most beautiful late-model Ponies in the country are presented each month, the other sure thing we experience at the races-seeing new, feature-worthy street, race, or show-quality Mustangs-is sometimes a bigger deal, especially for the owners of the 'Stangs that catch our eye.

Such was the case during our walk through the pits at the '08 NMRA season opener in Bradenton, Florida, when we came across Carl Barnett's gorgeous, Shelbyized '06 Mustang GT, a supercharged rocket that is so nice, we can't figure out whether he was there to race or just park in the car-show area for everyone on the property to drool over it.

As it turns out, Carl did both at Bradenton. On the go side of his double-duty NMRA debut, 60-year-old Carl was only three years-and no true race events-into his "comeback" in competitive drag racing when he arrived at Bradenton. He entered the Turbonetics Pro Outlaw 10.5 class and qualified 11 out of 13 Mustangs with an 8.43 e.t. at 168.06 mph. However, when catastrophic failure prevented Carl and his team-his son, CJ Barnett; grandson, Dean Lenoir; chassis-builder Vic Custer; Kenneth Turner; and Thompson "Ace" Pearl-from racing, they decided to rely on the 'Stang's good looks as another way of hopefully leaving Florida with some type of victory. "We wiped it down, entered it in the car show, and left with top honors in the Best Race Car/Pro Street category," says Carl. The award is a testament to Vic's brilliant craftsmanship and the paint-and-graphics talent of Mike Bishop, who laid down the gray-and-green base colors, topping them off with green-and-yellow true flames and stripes that grab your attention with just a glimpse of the car.

As we said earlier, Carl's personal rebirth in the sport (prior to 2005, Carl had not been down the dragstrip since he stopped racing in 1974) was just taking shape when we met him last season. In the year that's passed, the 'Stang's ProCharger F-3-blown, 388ci bullet has been freshened and given a killer tune by NMRA Drag Radial standout Jason Lee, which enables Carl to cover the quarter-mile in 7.40 seconds at 190 mph in a 'Stang that performs equally as well when it's sitting still.