Michael Johnson Associate Editor
September 17, 2010

When someone asks me what I do for a living, I simplify my response by saying, "I write about cars." However, the longer I do this job, the more I realize I don't write about cars-I write about people.

At least, that's how I look at it. Cars come and go. It's the people behind the cars that are more important, and a story should be about the person, not the car. The car is just part of the bigger story, the story of how the owner got to this point in life. That's what makes the car special.

If you've been a follower of 5.0&SF magazine, you already know about Tim Matherly's Mustangs, and his track record. However, you probably don't about the man behind the wheel.

"Dad wasn't into cars at all," Tim says. His dad was a Ford man, but beyond buying them, he didn't do much else to them. Tim's brother was 14 years his elder, and he was the one to plant the automotive seed.

However, Tim's life hasn't exactly gone the way it's supposed to go. He lost his mom in 1981, his brother in 1985, and his dad in 1990. Sure, some people have had much worse happen in their lives, but more of us have had it way easier. But Tim's not bitter about life's curve balls. He's taken the hits and kept on going.

Tim's Uncle Dennis had the biggest impact on Tim from an automotive performance standpoint. His summer consisted of spending summers with Uncle Dennis and his Shelby Mustangs. That's where Tim fell in love with Mustangs. Then he met his wife, Lisa, while in high school. When they first met, Lisa wasn't old enough to drive, but her love was for Mustangs with four legs and one horsepower. She easily made the transition to multiple-horsepower Mustangs, so Tim decided to keep her around, and she's still by his side today.

Thanks to family examples, Tim's first Mustang was a '69 Mach 1 with a 351 Windsor. Though it's not the same car, Tim currently has a '69 Mach 1 in the garage at home. Lisa's first car was a '66 Mustang that the couple put together. Lisa did much of the work, even building a 302 for it. "(She's) pretty handy around the car when she needs to be," Tim says.

Lisa's second Mustang was a '70 Mach 1. By that time Tim had moved up to a '70 Cougar Eliminator with a 428 SCJ. However, Tim traded the Cougar for a '93 Cobra. One would think the Cobra was the car to set Tim on the path to quarter-mile domination, but that's not the case. What started that successful run was a nitrous-injected '85 GT that ran 12.20s. Following the GT, Tim had an '87 GT that ran 11.20s on the spray. He ran that one season in Fun Ford Weekend's early days.

After the GT came the infamous '87 coupe with the trademark Tim Matherly paint scheme, applied by Curtis Cook at Cook's Customs in Chilhowie, Virgina. The coupe ran big-inch Windsor power with spray for the longest time in the early Pro 5.0 days. Back then, Tim battled it out with Vic and Jimmy Keen, Matt and Jay Scranton, Billy Glidden, Les Baer, Doug Mangrum, Greg Brittingham, Ken Boomsma, Jon Bennett, Ronnie Crawford, Willie Figueroa, George Greco, Steve Grebeck, and Elias Delatorre, among many others. Despite the heady competition, Tim carried the number one designation into the first year of Pro 5.0.

During the mid-'90s, most Pro 5.0 cars were converted street cars, and Tim's '87 coupe was no different. At the end of that car's gestation period, it featured a turbocharged Four-Valve, but that combo was short-lived before the car was pushed into a corner at MV Performance, which is where it remains today. It's screamin' for a nostalgia Pro 5.0 class.

After a few years off from organized drag racing, Tim was ready to get back into the mix in 2003. Pro 5.0 had gone off the charts as far as budgets go, so he looked for a class his customers could identify with, a class that would bring him and MV Performance much-needed publicity. As you know, he settled into the NMRA's then-fledgling Real Street class.

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