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Ford Mustang Roush Powered By E85 - Alternative Gas, Experimental Power
Don Bowles Pushes The Limits In Open Comp Using A Ford Factory Experimental Engine And E85 Fuel.
At 68 years old, Don Bowles has spent his adult life providing and discovering new ways to power our lives. He's a coal miner from Kentucky whose energy production has lit up countless neighborhoods and cities throughout the United States. Don is also a big proponent of the renewable fuel and media darling, E85-a corn-based fuel aimed at reducing the United States' dependency on foreign oil. When not digging for coal or growing crops, Don can be found traveling the NMRA Keystone drag-racing circuit with a Roush Performance-backed Mustang that has doubled as race car and developmental piece for Roush and Ford Motor Company.
Don runs his racing team like he does his life-finding alternative ways to go faster or create power. He's an accomplished drag racer who has been through a variety of organizations and classes over the years, including NHRA. He has also forged a friendship with Jack Roush, the two having raced a variety of cars together, including Thunderbolts, Mustangs, and other fast Fords. Once the golden age of drag racing quieted down, Don spent his time growing his various businesses-until recently, that is, when he got the bug to race again.
For the past several seasons, Don has competed on the NMRA circuit, running in either the Modular Muscle or Open Comp index categories. Today, he continues participating in the drag racing scene and enjoys event weekends with his family, a variety of Roush employees, and others-including Roush's daughter, Susan, and her husband, Dale.
While Don hits the dragstrip exclusively in Roush Mustangs, they aren't the same ones you can buy off the showroom floor. Instead, he works with Roush engineers and members of Ford to help design, develop, and flog parts. His continuous push forward has brought forth new camshafts (emission-legal ones), crate engines, and other vehicle development. He also played a big part in bringing Jack Roush back into drag racing.
Don's first foray into NMRA drag racing two years ago was with a Stage 3 Mustang that ultimately paved the way for the Roush Drag Pak Mustang. Within a year, the Roush Stage 3's performance was pushed to the low-10-second zone. It left him wanting more, with the desire to start a new project. He handed the car down to his son, Don Jr., who competes with it in the Modular Muscle class. Don's next project would push the boundary of Ford performance and provide a platform for Roush and Ford to test various engine programs. The new car also forced him into a different racing category, NMRA Open Comp.
A Stage 3 car was stripped and put on a strict diet of carbon-fiber body panels, which were developed on Don's first Stage 3 race car. Next on the list was to cut away the rear section of the chassis and replace it with a dedicated drag-racing back-half configuration. Roush engineers collaborated with the folks at Mark Williams to design a four-link rear suspension befitting for this long-wheelbase Mustang. The front half is mostly stock save for an Anthony Jones Engineering K-member and A-arms. Strange Engineering was tapped for the adjustable shocks and struts.
The transmission of choice is a G-Force GF-5R five-speed with a McLeod clutch. It was the first time anyone has attempted to install that type of transmission in a S197, and the Roush crew spent considerable effort fitting it in place. As you can tell, custom fabrication and trying something new has been a consistent theme with Don's Roush racers.
Last year, this '06 Roush race car utilized a Ford GT engine that relied on mostly stock internal engine components, low-compression Wiseco pistons, custom Roush camshafts, ported GT heads, and moderate boost. With 650 rwhp, it pushed Don to the mid-nine-second range at 145 mph. The team utilized a FAST fuel-injection system to dial in the dual injectors and keep the engine running cleanly.
Just a few months ago, the Ford GT engine was removed-replacing it is an engine that could set the performance world in a tailspin-a new Ford V-8 powerplant designed to be bigger, stronger, and better than any current Blue Oval-performance engine in production today.
In conjunction with Roush Engineering and Ford Motor Company, Don has fit an experimental engine under the hood of his Roush Stage 3 Mustang. The mysterious engine made its debut at the NMRA event at Milan Dragway (Milan, Michigan), and it performed admirably with a best of 9.10 at 145 mph. That was accomplished without the aid of a power adder and in less-than-stellar weather conditions. On-track performances were run at a race weight of 3,300 pounds, which puts output in the 800hp range.
Naturally, we went wild when we saw the new engine and how it performed. Unfortunately, Ford execs will say nothing-not a word or a peep other than that it's a V-8-even though we tried really hard to squeeze them for info. We've been shut down everywhere we turned for information on the mystery motor.
Finally, after some creative investigating, we uncovered what we think are rock-solid answers to the obvious questions. For starters, we're sure this engine is big. Our source in Detroit tells us it's 7.0 liters (about 427 ci), and it can go as big as 7.5 liters. We also hear it has favorable 4.250-inch bores, and from that we can calculate that the stroke is roughly 3.75 inches, offering nice revability. As for the heads, we hear the valves are laid out in a Hemi-style configuration, and we think there's a camshaft in the block and some pushrods in there.
This version sports twin injectors per cylinder with an individual-runner manifold and EFI. Of course, there could, and likely will, be numerous manifold designs to accommodate the variety of vehicles the engine will be plugged in to.
Like the current V-8s, we believe this new plant will serve a dual-purpose, showing up in everything from trucks to new Mustang special-edition models. For now, it's a race engine, and it's turning heads. Additionally, this engine is powered by E85 fuel, an alternative fuel that provides an excellent octane rating (110 octane).
Testing is scheduled to continue as the team will push the limits of the new bullet and find its weaknesses and strengths. Using test data, the Ford engineers will refine this V-8 and ensure it will stomp the LS-series and Mopar Hemi engines that are running around the streets. Thanks to Don, this engine will be well versed at going fast on the dragstrip.
While our Ford contacts remain tight-lipped, they did tell us a full media presentation will go down in due time. We hope it's soon-a big V-8 is just what the Ford fanatics have been waiting for.