Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsFeatured Vehicles
Kevin Toothman is taking his hobby to the next level--and doing it quickly.
Kevin Toothman from Yulee, Florida, is a Goodyear master automotive technician with a passion for fast cars.
When we asked him how long he's been involved in the sport, he smiled and said, "Forever!" As a kid, it started with three-wheelers, minibikes, and go-carts, always making them go faster and enjoying the adrenaline rush.
Kevin progressed to working on friends' cars, then refined his skills as an aviation mechanic in the Navy. When it came time to build a project car, the choice was easy, having always favored Mustangs. The old adage of "I can't leave anything stock very long" applied when he purchased his '93 Mustang LX hatchback. He had less than 200 miles on the car before he began making major modifications. The goal was to create a quick street racer, but he shifted his attention to the strip after a highly publicized local street racing incident resulted in the death of a child. Kevin took a step back, rethought his approach, and decided to become active in sanctioned Fun Ford Weekend competition.
The transition from street to strip meant several changes were appropriate. Teaming up with Parker Chassis in Columbus, Georgia, Kevin began by beefing up the Mustang unibody with a 10-point rollcage and subframe connectors, adding 32-inch Chassis Engineering ladder bars, wheelie bars, a FAB 9 rear with a Moser centersection, and either 4.86 or 5.14 gears, depending on the track. He added 35-spline Strange rear axles and AFCO 14-inch coilover shocks, with a spring rate that's adjustable from 90 to 130 pounds.
The front suspension uses HAL lower control arms, a Flaming River rack-and-pinion steering, an AJE K-frame, and HAL short-body struts with HAL coilover springs set at 130 pounds. A drag chute and an Aerospace 10.25-inch Disk Drag kit with Wilwood adjustable valves converts the go into whoa. At about 6 gallons per mile, the weight-saving JAZ 2-gallon gas tank is just enough to get the car down the strip. The Mustang rolls on Weld Aluma Star wheels--15x3.5s up front and 15x10s in the rear. Hoosier skinnies (26x4.5) create directional stability, while the fat 28x10.5 Mickey Thompson ET Drag racing rubber in the back provides traction for the monster motor.
Under the hood is where the real action begins, with the original 351 SVO V-8 now boasting 399 ci with a 4.145 bore and stroker crank. After blowing the engine in the first year of the Fun Ford Weekend competition, Kevin decided to get serious about horsepower and contacted Tony Bishoff of BES Racing Engines in West Harrison, Indiana. Kevin wanted a top performer in the Street Bandit naturally aspirated class and Tony was the man to deliver the goods.
Working from the bottom up, a new lightweight Bryant billet crankshaft and GRP aluminum rods were connected to JE 16:1 pistons fitted with Speed-Pro rings. A Comp cam activates ARP studs using Jesel 1.75 ratio rockers for some extra leverage. The DelWest lightweight titanium valves use dual valvesprings and Comp Cam retainers. Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads were ported, polished, cc'd, and O-ringed to ensure an unimpeded flow of fuel from the huge 1,050-cfm Pro Systems carb on the custom-crafted sheetmetal manifold. An MSD Pro Billet electronic ignition with an HVC2 coil and 8.5mm plug wires light the fires, while a set of Kooks custom stepped headers (17/8-inch, 2-inch, and 21/8-inch) vent spent gasses through a coated 31/2-inch custom exhaust.
The awesome mix of high-speed parts creates 606 lb-ft of torque at 6,400 rpm and 865 hp at 8,600 rpm. All that raw power is fed into the custom Powerglide two-speed transmission, fitted with a 7-inch Coan Engineering converter, a Coan manual valvebody, and a JW Ultra bellhousing. Stall speed on the Powerglide is 7,000 rpm. Jamey Higdon of Pensacola, Florida, did the work.
Once the car was competitive, Kevin set out to make it pretty. One look and you can see this is not a stripped-down, no-frills, racer. Interior changes begin with mini-tubs to provide clearance for the huge Mickey Thompson slicks, a full rollcage, lightweight JAZ seats tastefully upholstered in gray and black tweed, five-point harnesses for safety, and a complete Auto Meter gauge package to keep track of all the underhood activity. Auto Trimmers in Jacksonville, Florida, handled the stitch work.
Outside, the hatchback was treated to a one-piece, aero-dynamic fiberglass front end by US Body Source, an SKRC aluminum rear wing, and a show-quality custom paint job. Paul Holman of Visual FX in Jacksonville sprayed the House of Kolor Candy Tangerine and black with Violet Flip-flop Pearl and silver graphics. The paint job is so nicely done, the car took Best of Show at a local competition against 85 other Mustangs.
How does this combination actually perform on the track? Going into the '05 campaign, Kevin's best time for the 2,900-pound vehicle was 8.89 at 153.6 mph. At the FFW season opener in Orlando this year, he qualified Third in Bandit with an 8.89 at a best-ever 155.30. He lost in the first round to eventual winner Matt Jones, despite running a new low-e.t. of 8.771 at 157.04.