Frank H. Cicerale
March 1, 2009

Winter performed the swap in the South Amboy, New Jersey, shop, gutting the Mach of all of the stock rear components and replacing them with the IRS parts and pieces. The hind end of Adam's Pony now showcases a Cobra IRS. The stock springs were also bolted in, but gone were the stock shocks, as they were replaced with a set of Bilsteins. Crazy Horse full-length sub-frame connectors with a seat support coincide with an x brace off of an '03 Mustang GT convertible to stiffen up the frame, while Maximum Motorsports IRS differential bushings were installed for longevity. As for the front, the stock springs and Tokico struts handle the weight of the Four-Valve, and work in tandem with Maximum Motorsports caster/camber plates, rack bushings, a solid steering shaft, and urethane front control arm bushings, sway bar bushings, and sway bar endlinks to take corners with authority. The stock 17x8 inch Mach 1 wheels still reside on all four corners, though the footprint of the car is enhanced with the rims being shod in Nitto 555 shoes. With handling comes braking, and to that end, Adam had a set of cross-drilled and slotted rotors put on, sized 13 inches up front and 11.7 inches out back, along with Hawk HPS pads and a Russell braided brake line.

With the drivetrain now up to snuff, Adam moved into the interior of the car to make it legal for competition. A Maximum Motorsports four-point rollbar was installed, and the bar, complete with the diagonal option and a 2.5 pound fire extinguisher, was given the stamp of approval by the SCCA tech inspection. The stock seats remain, though both Adam and passenger are fastened securely with G-Force five-point harnesses. A Speed of Sound pillar gauge pod containing Ford Racing water temp and oil pressure gauges was installed next, along with a Raptor LED shift light that illuminates brightly when the time comes to make the gear change. Before Adam fires the Mach 1 up for a high-speed blast up the hill, he dons a G-Force two-piece firesuit, gloves, and shoes, and then straps on the G-Force full-face skid lid.

When all was said and done, Adam's car was ready for the opening race of the season at Weatherly. While he didn't make all of the races during the season, he did make the final event, also at Weatherly, where we caught up with him. According to Adam and the rest of the drivers, the Weatherly course, which is one mile in length, features six turns and an elevation change of 340 feet, making it one of the more technical ones on the circuit. Two of the more interesting turns on the Weatherly course is a hairpin turn called "the Wall", which has a bank to it that is reminiscent of one seen at a NASCAR track. A little further up the course is "the Jump," which follows a hard righthand turn. This is where a lot of spectators like to go, as the cars will literally fly over the crest of the hill, pulling two, or in some cases all four, tires off of the ground.

While rain hampered the first couple of runs Adam made, the sun came out, the road dried, and he was able to put the hammer down. While only he and Steve Lewis' Mach 1 were running in the E/SP class, Adam was able to knock time off on each successive run up the hill, resulting in a best lap of 69.202 seconds, placing him Second in class. According to Adam, the quicker, more specialized cars can make it up the hill in a minute or less, so his 69-second lap in a street-driven Mach 1 Mustang with bolt-on parts is pretty darn impressive.

If you are looking for an interesting form of racing, then check out the PHA hillclimb events. Information for the PHA can be found online at www.pahillclimb.org, and don't forget to check out the Muscle Mustangs website, as we strapped our video camera into Adam's car for a couple of blasts up the hill.

Who knows-maybe one day you and your Mustang can get to the top of the rock. According to Adam Sampson, it sure is fun trying!