Don Roy
November 1, 2006
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

A Stout Frame
Beyond the engine, Mark takes a balanced approach to performance and has reworked the chassis and suspension to his specifications. That portion of the development began with a set of Max-Cros subframe connectors, Eibach Pro-Kit springs and Pro dampers. Saleen was called on to provide the caster/camber plates that allow wheel alignment adjustments, as required. BBK upper and lower control arms help keep the rear end in shape, while their sway bars were used to flatten out the car during cornering. The SAAC events that Mark attends do have an emphasis on open track performance and this led him to revise the suspension a second time, in search of even more giggles. A Sean Hyland Motorsports tubular K-member and tubular A-arms replaced the heavier OEM components. Along with that came new Koni adjustable struts and shock absorbers, as well as a Strange Engineering coil-over conversion for the front end. An Optima battery has been relocated into the trunk, courtesy of a Taylor kit.

Responsibility for keeping the 'Whoa' in balance with the 'Go' falls to Pro-Racing and their brake kits. Thirteen-inch slotted rotors in the front are clamped, when needed, by dual piston calipers. The rear binders were also upgraded. Russel stainless-steel braided brake lines are used to maintain a solid feel and consistent response from the hydraulics. Bolted on to those rotors are 17 by 9-inch chromed Cobra R-style rims. BF Goodrich supplied the G-Force KD tires in Cobra-sized, 275/40R17 versions for all four corners. Keeping with the Shelby-inspired theme of the car, Mark replaced the wheels center caps with Shelby versions. Ford Racing supplied the needed pieces to have the rear axle 'built', including 3.73 ratio gears, rear axle girdle and driveshaft safety loop.

Inside the coupe, you'll find that safety is supplemented by a 6-point roll cage and 5-point restraints. When it comes to driver information aids, you'd swear that Mark got used to flying a plane at some time in his past. Auto Meter Lunar series instruments abound. The factory instrument cluster has been replaced with their special version, while a matching Monster tach, boost gauge, oil pressure, nitrous pressure and water temperature gauges keep the data flowing. A ScanGuage ODB-II code scanner, as well as a G-Tech Pro performance meter are present and accounted for. There's not much that's going to get by this driver! Well, that is unless he's listening to the tunes that can be pumped out by his Pioneer DEH-4600MP receiver unit. A pair of MTK Thunder 564 amps pump up the output and feed into JBL speakers in the front, Pioneer 3-ways in the back and a Bose Audio 12" subwoofer with its enclosed box in the trunk.

A Faithful Friend
There's little doubt that Mark Blankensop loves all things Shelby and he's not afraid to show it. He's added a few more Shelby bits on the exterior, including the quarter window scoops from a 1967 Shelby. The distinctive Banshee SR-71 hood and Ram Air system add a particularly aggressive edge to the car's stance, as does the Team Shinoda front spoiler. If it never rains in California, there's likely even less chance in Nevada, so Mark has replaced the windshield wipers using a delete kit from UPR, who are also responsible for the shortened antenna.

This car owner's enthusiasm is hard to hide... and hard to miss. For Mark Blankensop, his pony has provided a great deal of pleasure and gratification. "I enjoy going to car shows and Shelby American Auto Club meets," he told us. When you're busy fighting fires for a full season, you'd have a lot to look forward to enjoying this and other Mustangs in the cool, verdant meadows.

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