Michael Galimi
July 27, 2010

By now most readers are familiar with the all-new 412hp 5.0L that is standard in the '11 GT. It might be the most powerful base-model Mustang in the storied history of America's Pony car, but that didn't stop speed shops from tearing into brand-new cars for the sake of speed and glory. Within days of cars shipping to dealers, we heard of one shop banging off 11-second times in naturally aspirated trim. That's when we got the call from Justin Burcham of JPC Racing.

"I am on my way to Virginia to pick up a 2011 5.0L Mustang GT," he stated. "Get down here tomorrow. We want to run 10s before anyone else." We learned a longtime ago to never doubt Burcham-he delivers on promises, and this time would be no different.

The race to 10s was accomplished in a little over 24 hours from time of purchase to the scoreboard lighting up-and it was done under a veil of secrecy. There were two other shops vying for the first 10-second timeslip, so Burcham had one night to do it.

"I am not leaving anything on the table," was his comment. Back at the shop, his team was preparing for an all-out thrash, while Burcham motored back to the JPC digs in Millersville, Maryland.

First, the GT went on the dyno. With a mere 221 miles on the odometer, the 5.0L cranked out a respectable 349.4 rwhp, in Fifth gear.

Once the car cooled off, they tore into the beast with astounding efficiency. The rearend was replaced with a fortified 8.8 housing that was built while Burcham went to pick up the car. They used a spool to eliminate any chance of breaking the stock differential.

The rear suspension was also modified with Metco control arms, adjustable rear shocks, and an Eibach Drag Launch kit. The team added Eibach adjustable struts and springs, and a Racecraft front sway bar removal kit to help transfer weight.

By midnight, the car was on the ground and rolling on Bogart big 'n' littles with Mickey Thompson rubber. The next morning, Jeff Reinoehl of Insane Racing Fabrication, located next door to JPC, fired up his cutting torch and welder. He cut away the after-cat exhaust system, fabricated a 3-inch X-style pipe, using a Bassani crossover, and then reduced it down to Bassani 2.5-inch mufflers with turndowns.

Once the exhaust was completed, it was back on the dyno. Tuning software wasn't available, so Burcham crossed his fingers and prayed to the speed gods. The moment of truth was upon them and the response was interesting. "All the warning lights came on. The Airbag light was on, as was the Check Engine, ABS, Traction Control, and tire pressure-it was a freaking light show. There was even a light with tire track/burnout marks; I didn't even know what that was for," laughed Burcham.

At this point, we concluded the X-style pipe and steeper rear gears caused the computer to freak out, but the dyno result was a stout 370 rwhp. It turns out the new 5.0L doesn't like the gas tank to run too low while at WOT.

While on the dyno, the team wired up a dual line-lock and pulled a Zex nitrous system ('05-'10 kit) off the shelf. Burcham put in the smallest nitrous and fuel pills in the single nozzle (75hp), which was plumbed into the air-inlet elbow. Burcham wouldn't give out the exact size pills, but he did show us the dyno graph. The 5.0L laid down a mild 430 rwhp and 400 rwtq on the spray.

"The PCM uses two wideband O2 sensors and was constantly trying to keep the air/fuel at 12.4:1. That is definitely not a good air/fuel ratio on nitrous. This engine will run much better and cleaner if I can get in there to control the air/fuel better and alter the ignition timing," stated Burcham.

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Would it be enough? That question was answered three hours later as we departed for Maryland International Raceway (MIR). Originally, Burcham was going to head north to Cecil County Dragway's Wednesday night test-and-tune program. The plan changed given the secrecy of the project because a rival shop was likely to be at Cecil. So Burcham called in a favor from Jason Miller at MIR, who set up a private rental. Miller hustled to prep the track, and get his ambulance and emergency crew assembled.

The night started off with two naturally aspirated runs, both far from expectations. The first hit resulted in a missed shift, and the second run just didn't feel right, so Burcham aborted.

"I was thinking too much about driving the car and watching the tach. I was trying to hit the gear precisely before it hit the factory rev limiter at 7,000 rpm, which was actually closer to 6,850 on the factory tach. The throttle blade would close shut between the gear changes-even under full throttle, no lift shifts-because we were so close to the rev-limiter." He went on to say, "The car pulled the hardest close to red line, so every shift was crucial. I messed up the first couple passes because of this, but I said 'screw it,' let's get right down to business and spray this bitch."

They drained the pump gas by jumping the fuel pump relay and then added VP 110 octane. As Burcham put it, "The high-octane fuel was our only safeguard on nitrous because we couldn't change to colder plugs or alter the ignition timing."

"I made one non-powershifted pass on the juice so we could at least check the air/fuel and get the car to the finish line under full power. That resulted in an 11.31 at 122 mph." He made one change and upped the nitrous jet by 0.004-inch in order to lean the mixture out. By an experienced estimate, the nitrous hit was the equivalent to a 125hp shot.

The next run would seal his name in the record books of Mustang drag racing. He used the same launch technique as earlier by leaving at 6,000 rpm. The car left with both front wheels dangling and it dug in for a 1.46 60-footer. Burcham breezed through the gears, power-shifting each one with accuracy at 6,800 rpm.

"I could feel the throttle letting up on each shift," commented Burcham. He kept his foot in it and only lifted slightly when he banged it into Fifth. "I didn't want to risk missing Fifth." He got it into gear flawlessly and the scoreboard lit up: 10.96 at 125 mph-mission accomplished!

"I would like to give special thanks to all the guys at the shop for busting their humps to get this done-it would not have been possible otherwise; Shannon Murphy for finding me the perfect car, other than having a six-hour round trip to go get it! Bill Talley Ford (Richmond, Virginia) was also great in making the purchase and pickup super-easy. My wife, Melanie, and our kids for not killing me after buying another Mustang, and also letting me totally rip it apart in my personal quest for another Mustang barrier. She's a saint.

"We also couldn't have done it without Jason Miller and Maryland International Raceway. He dropped everything for us."

Editor's Note: We also send thanks to the author of this story, Mike Galimi, for traveling 10 hours round trip to cover this wild fiasco. There were no guarantees we would get this done with a brand-new beast that we really knew nothing about.