Vinnie the Hit Man
July 1, 2006
Photos By: Peter S. Linney

As the old saying goes, first impressions mean a lot. Many long-term judgments are based on initial experiences, but in this particular instance, it's the second impression that matters the most. You see, this Pony has been a labor of love for Derrin Griffin as he's watched this GT transform over the years from showroom stocker to road course shocker.

It is no surprise that people approach him after each session with, "Dude, that was some great driving." However, it is often the reply of, "That wasn't me, that was my wife," that gives them plenty to think about. Talk about putting your foot in your mouth. Vicky Griffin sure loves the look on their faces as she glances over and adjusts her tire pressures.

The Griffins have worked on their Mustang together ever since they took delivery of this '99 back in 2000. Starting with the limited modifica-tions that the SCCA rulebook allowed for Solo2 autocross, they installed every legal bolt-on imaginable to help the car handle the cones with greater ease. The Stang remained mostly stock, but Vicky wanted more. She just didn't know where to turn (pun intended.) On one hand, she was becoming rather successful at attacking the autocross, but on the flipside, she was looking for a new passion to pursue.

Then, one fateful day during an SVTOA meet at California Speedway in 2001, Vicky found her want-her passion, if you will. It was called the open track, and once the high-speed hijinks got under her skin, it was road course action from that day forward.

In transitioning from Solo2 to open track events, Vicky soon found there were no restrictive rulebooks to adhere to. No longer were specific tire sizes, suspension components, and other items dictating the way her car was to be built. As a matter of fact, she took it upon herself to have the safest, best-handling GT she could afford. Working along with Derrin, a new game plan was set, and the toolbox was opened.

Vicky Griffin has come out hard with her GT, and as she continues to perfect and modify it (yes, she turns the wrenches right alongside hubby Derrin) there's no telling where she will land.

As with any road course machine, the bulk of the budget was spent on the suspension and chassis. Starting with the front end, the Griffins hired the help of good friend Gian Bowles to install the Maximum Motorsports caster/camber plates, bumpsteer kit, and aluminum rack bushings. Hans Racecraft subframe connectors tie the two halves of the car together and greatly stiffen up the ride. Boxed lower control arms with Delrin bushings connect to stock spindles to the holy grail of dampers, the Koni double-adjustables. Out back, Steeda's all-encompassing 5-Link suspension kit securely locates the 8.8 rear from all angles and gets beefed up with 31-spline Superior Axles and an Eaton diff.

The suspension is only as good as the tires it uses to contact the pavement, so Nitto NT555Rs are used all around. Measuring a massive 275/35x17, they give Vicky's GT plenty of stick. Luckily, the 17x9 Cobra Rs add form to function, allowing for perfect offset on the front end despite the ginormous footprint.

With engine mods open to anything an open tracker can afford, Vicky decided to keep reliable performance a priority without sacrificing instan-taneous power. Fundamentals include Hedman Tork-Step longtubes, MagnaFlow mufflers with turndowns, a 70mm Ford Racing throttle body, and an SCT Big Air 90mm meter in front of it. Big news is the Allen Engine Development Rev II supercharger that stuffs 6 pounds of positive pressure into the otherwise stock engine at any given moment.

Tuning is set with an SCT programmer for the EEC V and an Innovate Motorsports wide-band O2 helps dial in those 36-pound squirters. With the '03 Cobra heat exchanger removing the torrid thermals from the liquid-to-air intercooler beneath the blower, power is bumped to about 390 effective and reliable ponies at the crank. On a road course, that's plenty stout, and it's strong enough to fend off those ever-dominant '03-'04 SVT Cobras. To keep things out of the red, a Ford Racing oil cooler kit with an MMR Racing oil pan keep oil temperatures in the happy zone.

As one of the most respected board members of the SVTOA, Vicky could not carry on as the western regional director without a car that looked stock. To make her Bright Atlantic Blue GT stand out, she decided to add functional and good-looking modifications. Eric Bayliss of Sierra Paint and Body of Santa Clarita, California, helped match and paint the ABC Exclusive SVO 3-inch cowl hood and GTR-V2 front bumper. This would match the Steeda rear spoiler perfectly and blend in well with the Classic Design Concepts lower rear valances. The black and blue motif was chosen for the beatings given to all those who have tried to pass Vicky. OK, we can't back that last one up, but it sounds cool, right?

With a custom four-point rollbar installed by Mike Howard of Impact Customs in Santa Clarita, the extra piece of mind goes a long way when you're cinched into the Cobra Daytona Sport seats by the Schroth Sport harnesses. The rollbar is also welded to the B-pillar for added stiffness and ties the rear shock towers together for greater structural strength. Eventually, a full cage and rear-seat delete will be installed for increased safety, albeit at the expense of streetability. But, as Vicky tells us, when the car becomes track-only, it will be a perfect excuse to pick up a new Shelby GT500.

It's not easy being the queen of the road course. It takes a lot of perseverance, guts, and a rock-solid car to make it happen. Luckily, Vicky has all three essentials, and we see her going far in her Mustang career. As she relates, "Being a woman in this industry is not easy, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to gain the respect of your colleagues."

Well, Vicky, you've certainly earned ours.