Pete Epple Technical Editor
January 1, 2013
Contributers: Kristian Grimsland

Have you ever had a car that you thought was the quickest and fasted thing on the road?

We all have. So you throw some sticky tires on it, head out on the street, or go to the track looking for someone to pick on. Maybe you beat a few people and inflate your ego a little more, maybe your bench-racing prowess has scared off the competition. Then someone comes along who's cool, calm, and collected that agrees to race you on your terms. His car doesn't look very far from stock, but just for a second you get that feeling in your stomach that you may be in trouble. Maybe you dismiss it, maybe you don't. Then, as quickly as the race starts, its over, and you're left feeling like a red headed stepchild (our apologies to any actual red-headed step-children) because you never had a chance. Guess what? That guy was Sean Kelley.

Yes, the parachute gives it away. But this is by no means a racecar. In fact, Sean drove 860 miles from his home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Bradenton, Florida, to compete in the 2012 Spring Break Shootout. We know your salivating, wondering what this thing runs, and what's under the hood -- and we'll get to that. But, realize that this Coyote-powered GT sees more street time than strip time.

Sean is the owner of Kelley Performance, in Virginia Beach, where he's built this silent but deadly killer. Sean explained to us that what he had first envisioned has transformed into something completely different and exponentially better.

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"My original goal for the car was to race it, but I also wanted something that I could get into and drive to the local tracks. But as we got further into the build I realized how reliable it really was," said Sean. "I really didn't expect it to be such a solid car."

Sean's idea of building a serious strip car came in early 2010. With Ford Motor Company's introduction of the Coyote into the Mustang, Ford fanatics couldn't get enough of the new powerplant -- including Sean. As fast as he could get his hands on one, he purchased a brand new '11 automatic GT in July 2010. With aspirations of being the first stock auto-equipped Mustang GT into the 8's, Sean had his work cut out for him.

Knowing that eight seconds would require some serious power, he started the build by contacting L&M Race Engines in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. There they beefed up Sean's 5.0L with new Diamond pistons, Manley H-beam rods, and reused the factory crankshaft. To compliment his new short-block, he equipped it with a new set of RGR/JPC Stage 1 cylinder heads and compression came in at 10:1. Now that he had an engine that could stand up to what was next on his mod list, he was ready to pair it up with a Paxton Novi 2200 and an Induction Solutions direct-port nitrous system setup for a wet 100 shot. With only an anti-rollbar added to the factory suspension, and still using the factory transmission, Sean was ready for the strip. Wearing a full-set of Weld RTS wheels, and Hoosier radials out back, Sean's Coyote would find its way to a 9.47 at 148 mph cutting a 1.38 60-ft. Yeah, you read that correct -- 9.47 on the stock suspension!

With his Coyote already deep into the nine's, his dream of an 8-second timeslip was within reach. After taking part in our Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords 5.0-liter Shootout in 2011 at Englishtown Raceway Park, Sean's plans would be temporarily put on hold. While visiting family, his Coyote gave its last hurrah that weekend, as it was totaled in an accident.

It didn't take Sean long to jump back into the game, as he was determined to achieve what he set out for, this time with a brand new '12 automatic GT. "It wasn't even a week before I took the engine out of my old 2011 GT and replaced my week old 2012 one with it," explained Kelley. "Hell, the '12 engine didn't even have a 1,000 miles on it before I pulled it out."

Starting where he left off, Sean took the already beefed up 5.0L and sat it into the new virgin GT chassis. Knowing that his new GT was identical to his last, he knew the potential and capabilities of his setup. Wanting a new personal best, while still being able maintain the driveability like his old GT, Sean installed a Circle D Specialties converter with a 3,400 stall, along with a set of UPR Products coilovers with 175-pound springs, as well as a full cage by Matt Wirt from Race Fab Engineering. With a plan to take his new Steed to the strip, Sean was ready to see what his new project could do. With the few changes he made, his GT brought home a new personal best of 9.24 at 151 mph, cutting a 1.43 60-foot.

As pleased as Sean was with his new time, he's still chasing that eight-second timeslip. Though we don't have enough time to tell you what Sean is working on right now, just know that his '12 GT still weighs over 4,000 pounds with him in it and averages close to 30 miles per gallon when cruising to the strip. So next time your at the race track and inflating your ego with that dignified smirk on your face, just remember it's the guys like Sean that will send you snarling back to the pits, wishing you had just stayed at home waxing your ride and letting the big boys race.

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