Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
February 1, 2008

Step By Step

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Mmfp_0802_01_z 2007_shelby_gt500 Burnout
Kansas City International Raceway kindly let MM&FF and the Aeromotive team make a couple of smoky burnouts as well as some 60-foot hits for the photo shoot.
Mmfp_0802_03_z 2007_shelby_gt500 Rear_view
Mickey Thompson tires wrapped around Weld Magnum wheels have provided enough adhesion for 1.02-second 60-foot times.
Mmfp_0802_04_z 2007_shelby_gt500 Aerial_view
Liquid Powdercoat Finishes of Kansas City, Missouri, painted the carbon-fiber body and included numerous subtle touches, such as the bugs on the front of the car. Each of the smeared insects feature one of Aeromotive's competitors' logos.
Mmfp_0802_05_z 2007_shelby_gt500 Engine
Chassis builder Larry Larson says, "The neatest thing about the car is how many people come up to it and are impressed with the fact that it's a modular engine." Said powerplant has made more than 2,000 hp on Kenny Duttweiler's engine dyno, though the team has yet to unleash all of those ponies at the track.
Mmfp_0802_06_z 2007_shelby_gt500 Custom_distributor
Matusek noted that they completely ignored much of what many people in the industry said they couldn't do with the car. One of these things was using a distributor. Brad Waddle of Innovators West (Salina, Kansas) created the custom distributor drive system, which is driven off of the crankshaft and uses an MSD crank trigger ignition and conventional MSD racing coil. "It's a bolt-on, bulletproof solution/alternative to trying to drive eight coil packs," Matusek says.

Some time last year, we got word that Steve Matusek, president of the popular fuel-component company Aeromotive Inc. (Lenexa, Kansas), was building a modular-powered, Pro 5.0-style tube-chassis car. A press release and accompanying artist's rendition confirmed the rumor.

A modular-powered Pro car is nothing new, as both J.R. Granatelli and John Mihovetz have both been pioneers in this field. To our knowledge, Mihovetz recently set the record for such a vehicle at 6.35 seconds at 222 mph.

The concept of the new Aeromotive car was to create a high-tech, high-profile Mustang that used state-of-the-art technology with a powerplant consumers could relate to. As it is, the engine is based off of an '07 Shelby GT500 DOHC 5.4 powerplant.

"These engines appeared to have enormous potential," Matusek says. "It seemed that if we could get behind it and garner help from our peers in the industry, it would be possible to take this package far beyond where it had gone before. We felt this car was a testament not only of Aeromotive's resident knowledge and experience with fuel systems, but also with racing and performance."

It was decided that this new ride would be a multipurpose machine, legal for numerous sanctions including the NMRA, NMCA, and Fun Ford, as well as the NHRA's Competition Eliminator class. With the concept laid out, it was time for construction.

"When I decided to build the car, I wanted to go with someone who could not just design and build the chassis, but also someone who could help us with managing the car down the track," says Matusek. "I've known Larry Larson for years, and every time I went to a racetrack, he was there. Larson Race Cars (Oak Grove, Missouri) is responsible for building some of the fastest cars in the country for drivers such as David Schorr, Mike Moran, Tony Nesbitt-the list goes on and on, so we went with him.

"It has been an awesome experience working with Larry, from the thought put into not just building the car, but also to weight distribution, maintenance, and setup. He has been there for every race and was responsible for teaching a rookie driver, setting up the car, and managing our mistakes without missing a beat."

Constructed from 4130 chromoly, Matusek's Mustang is based on a traditional tube-chassis Pro Stocker design, featuring a single framerail. Front-suspension components include tubular A-arms with Strange Engineering shocks and springs. The full-floater rear suspension uses Koni shocks with Strange springs. The axle assembly is a Larson-built, sheetmetal housing with Strange axleshafts, 4.11:1 ring-and-pinion gears, and a spool. Total build time was around five months.

Whereas many of today's turbocharged Mustangs have the turbos mounted in front of the engine, Larson opted for a slightly different position. The turbos are placed off to the sides of the engine, which improves the balance of ballast in the car overall. Shorter header tubing means the turbochargers spool up quicker, and having the turbos tucked down in a relatively unused area allows for easier access to work on the engine. That ease of maintenance was also a priority with regard to intercooler placement.

"I've seen too many guys trying to work on the clutch with the intercooler in the way, so I wanted to mount it up front to allow more room inside the car," Larson says. The intercooler and associated plumbing was shuffled around up front for about a day or so until a position that offered neat and tidy plumbing, along with easy maintenance, was found.

On our MM&FF tech sheet, Matusek filled in the Horsepower box with "A Lot" and the Torque box with "Stupid Amount." Matusek and his team had planned to use a modular engine as motivation, but before he got started, he consulted famed turbo tuner and engine builder Kenny Duttweiler regarding his engine choice.