Rod Short
March 1, 2001

When it comes to putting together a car and finding a place to race, things get expensive pretty quickly. That's one reason why the Internet is often ablaze with car owners suggesting that someone add this or that class for the little guy, with minimal rules that don't require huge investments. In response to this, many sanctioning bodies have responded to those calls, only to see minimal participation because of travel expenses or costs start to soar as performance increases.

That's a big reason why the MM&FF True Street series continued to grow in 2000 as part of the Fun Ford Weekend race program. It is a starting place for every racer on a budget. To show how a lot can still be done with a little, MM&FF hooked up with Greg Thomas from Chillicothe, Ohio, at the Bristol Fun Ford event last year to look at his $4,000 11-second True Street car.

"We build them as cheap as we can," Greg said with a laugh when asked about his car. "I bought it from a boy at a shopping mall one night here in Chillicothe, followed him home and got the title. It could be driven, but it had been wrecked twice and had some frame damage in the back and such. It was really just a 4-cylinder beater. I really bought it just for a parts car, but my friends harassed me so much about tearing into this one that I just decided to make a race car out of it instead."

To get the chassis and suspension ready for competition, Greg simply added a 10-point roll cage from S&W Racecars and bolted on a set of Jeg's adjustable upper control arms. That was it-no replacement springs, air bags, subframe connectors, struts, shocks, brakes or anything else. Greg did drop the rear end for a salvaged 8.8 carrier from another car and packed it with 4.10 gears and Moser 28-spline axles. A C-clip eliminator kit, an aluminum driveshaft and mandatory safety loop pretty much completed all of the undercar work.

Up top, Greg finished the car with a 5-inch cowl induction hood, a small wing for the trunk lid and a paint job that was done entirely at home. Greg retained the stock seats inside the car and added some gauges to keep tabs on what was happening below.

With the car basically done, Greg then bartered and negotiated his way into a capable engine for his True Street car. "A friend of mine bought a Mustang for ten grand with a DSS short-block, Trick Flow heads and a blower on it," Greg began his story. "He pulled the engine out, put a GT-40 long block in so his wife could drive it and sold the engine, heads and everything for $650 to a buddy of mine just to get rid of it. My friend ran it in his race car for a season and then I traded a Windsor short-block to my buddy to get the DSS short-block and that was the beginnings of my race engine."

Greg dropped a set of cast iron Dart heads on the engine with 2.02/1.60 valves and a Ford Racing X-303 cam to run the show, then finished off the long-block assembly with a Victor Jr. intake and a single Holley 700 cfm Double Pumper. Extra motivation came from a CompuCar plate system, which was dialed to pump in about an extra 175 horsepower. With a used set of Hedman headers, a home made H-pipe and a pair of 2-chamber Flowmasters backed by a C-4 with a 3000 rpm stall converter, the car was pretty much ready to go. Subsequent trips to the drag strip netted a best time of 11.39 seconds at 118 mph.

"With the help of friends like Doug and Brian Keller, Aaron Shrake and Dale Redman, this car was built entirely in my home garage." Greg said. "All this goes to prove that you can still make a Mustang run fairly fast without a lot of cubic inches and money as long as you have some help from good friends and your family."

With NMRA having dropped Wild Street for the 2000 season, Greg intends to make the World Ford Challenge and as many Fun Ford True Street events as he can. Should more people take some clues from Greg on how he beat the budget racing blues, you can expect he'll have a lot of company.