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1989 Mustang LX - Eat. Race. Die.
Mustang Racing Legend Mike Murillo Reemerges With A Sick, Twin-Turbo Outlaw 10.5 LX
Mike Murillo's rise to Mustang-racing stardom began behind the counter at the now-defunct Chief Auto Parts in his home-town of San Antonio, Texas. Selling parts gave him the cash needed to scrounge together bolt-on parts to build power and speed. Eventually, he took his prized '89 Mustang LX coupe to the tracks in San Antonio and nearby Houston, looking for some quarter-mile fun. There, Mike encountered MM&FF's True Street class, and he quickly became obsessed with modifying his Mustang. He jumped into the FFW Mustang racing scene with both feet. After many wins and some of the most interesting and popular late-model Stangs ever built, the charismatic Texan has become one of the legends in Mustang Shootout drag racing.
As time passed, the kid from San Antonio converted his MM&FF True Street ride into an FFW Modified 5.0 class-legal racer. The class eventually morphed into Outlaw 5.0 and, ultimately, into what we know today as Street Outlaw.
Racing Mustangs paved the path for Mike to open Texas Jam Racing, one of the first specialty Mustang shops. A personable and fun attitude allowed him to sell his knowledge and experience to fellow Mustang owners while filling his need for all things Blue Oval. The mantra for the Texas Jam shop was Eat, Race, Die-exactly Mike's philosophy on life. His desire to race brought him to destinations all over the country, competing with his black coupe. Through his outstanding performances and efforts, Mike became one of the first Vortech factory-backed racers. Proud of his native Texas, he then came out with the "Star" car, which amounted to the LX being covered with a huge Texas state flag paint job. To say this car was popular would be a gross understatement.
And then came the wins, as he collected five FFW titles before making the switch to the newly created NMRA circuit in 1999. It took three years for Mike to make it to the top of the podium in NMRA Super Street Outlaw, a feat he accomplished in 2002. "Winning the SSO championship was one of the toughest things I've ever done in my life," he says.
After that, Mike's attention switched to raising his family and building Murillo Motorsports. But he still needed to race, and his FFW and NMRA championships were followed with yet another championship at the '01 World Ford Challenge. As if seven national titles weren't impressive enough, he beat up on the brand-X racers in the Clash of the Titans, where he gathered three more series' titles.
While Mike took a hiatus from heads-up drag racing during 2003-2007, he stayed busy at the racetrack with an assortment of toys. He wanted to have something to show customers he was still on the cutting edge, and in fact, MM&FF featured one of his eight-second street cars during that time ("Back to the Streets," Jan. '05). He had a few other hot rides that saw weekly action at San Antonio Raceway, among other tracks in Texas. As Murillo Motorsports grew and his kids got older, the itch to race started again. "I wanted to get back to racing, but also to do it the right way," Mike says. "We took our time with this car and did everything the way it's supposed to be done."
It took three years of chopping, cutting, and rebuilding an existing Outlaw 10.5 Mustang, but the wait was worth it. Mike bought this LX as a roller in 2002, and it was raced for the duration of that season. It was then parked after a violent wheelie destroyed important pieces and components.
Mike had Bill Buck Race Cars of Austin, Texas, handle the chassis upgrades that included an SFI-certified 25.2 chassis specification, a new rearend housing, suspension components, and many other odds and ends needed to get the '93 up to snuff for an attack on the six-second zone. The front struts and rear shocks are Santhuff pieces, custom built for 10.5W-type racing. Bill Buck will handle all of the chassis tuning, including making sure the four-link rear suspension is set up properly.
Once the chassis was a complete roller again, it was covered in multiple layers of DuPont black paint, just like Mike's original legendary race car. The old-school look is complemented with new technology in the form of a rear-mounted turbo system. "We decided to go with the turbos in the back mainly because of weight distribution," he says. "It keeps weight in the back of the car instead of the front. We were originally concerned with spooling, but that hasn't been an issue." He was also happy to report the weight-bias is probably the best of any turbocharged big-block Outlaw 10.5 Mustang on the circuit.
The header design is custom, and Mike is quiet about the specific setup. He spent considerable time forming the two 3.5-inch oval pipes that run under the car and feed the turbochargers. Two 88mm Precision turbo-chargers in the trunk feed a large intercooler-custom built by Mike Noriega for Bell Intercoolers-and sits in the back-seat area. One single pipe runs through the passenger seat and back into the engine bay. The entire system, including the headers and piping, was done in-house at Murillo Motorsports.
On the receiving end of the 30 psi of boost is a 541ci engine built by Kotzur Racing Engines. An aluminum RDI block was punched out to 4.500 inches and stuffed with a 4.500-inch crankshaft, keeping engine size under 550 ci so they can run NMRA Pro Outlaw 10.5. The heads are Trick Flow A460 units that have been given the full treatment. Intake valves measure a monstrous 2.300 inches, while the 1.880-inch exhaust valves whisk away the gases. The Comp camshaft was custom cut to 0.724/0.715 inch lift with a duration of 258/262. It's not as wild as one would think for a 2,500hp powerplant. The rest of the valvetrain is from Jesel.
The Trick Flow intake was converted to fuel injection by Murillo Motorsports, and it houses 212-pound fuel injectors, custom rails, a TurboSmart fuel-pressure regulator, and an Accufab 105mm throttle body.
Mike has many different digital boxes to control all aspects of this wild ride. He tunes the engine using a Big Stuff 3 EFI system, while an MSD 7531 digital box manipulates the timing curve. The 30 psi of boost is thrown at the engine in various stages due to the tire and traction limitations. For that, an AMS-1000 boost controller calls the shots, while TurboSmart wastegates and blow-off valves do the work. Racepak was tapped for a 30-channel data-logging system so Mike can assess the situation after each run. Transferring the power to the custom 9-inch rear and Mickey Thompson 33x10.5W slicks is the job of a Lenco transmission with a Bruno automatic conversion. The Bruno add-on unit allows the use of a torque converter, which was sourced from Neil Chance Torque Converters.
At the time of the photos, the car was just finished and readied for its debut at the '07 SEMA show. Immediately following SEMA, Mike and crew went testing. At press time, they managed a best of 7.26 at only 179 mph, shutting off early. This came with a very loose torque converter and low boost. Sixty-foot times were an impressive 1.15 on the 10.5W tires. "We're planning on running consistent 6.80s, and we'll compete in NMRA Pro Outlaw 10.5 in 2008," Mike says.
Given his history and experience, he just might be adding another championship to his collection.