Eric English
August 1, 2004

When walking the pits at any kind of racing venue, it's hardly remarkable to find a particular marque's faithful gathered around its most impressive racers. a mean-looking '69 Z28 will be surrounded by bow tie fanatics, the wicked '71 Hemi 'Cuda will garner plenty of Mopar faithful, and that fully prepped '66 GT350 will have adoring Shelby fans craning for a closer look. But truly impressive recognition occurs when guys take note of a competitor from the other camp (usually because said car has just handed their hero its head on the proverbial plate). Such was the case with the gorgeous '65 Falcon Sprint featured here.

It's been several years since we first saw Randy Dunphy from Renton, Washington, tearing up the big bore grids at West Coast vintage races, but it's always a terrific show. Dunphy's Falcon usually starts near the front of the pack based on qualifying laps, with the rest of the field made up of the more expected race car fare-'Vettes, Shelbys, Camaros, Tigers, Mustangs, and an occasional Cobra or Jaguar spicing up the mix. By now, we expect Dunphy to be consistently dicing for top honors, but spectators and fellow racers who aren't prepared for the Falcon's stellar performance can scarcely believe their eyes. how can a vintage legal Falcon go head to head with the likes of Chevrolet's premier sports car? C'mon, a small-block Ford running with big-block Chevys? How does a live axle and front discs compete with IRS and rotors at all corners? Whatever the answers are, Dunphy and company have obviously figured it out. In fact, in the dozen races the Falcon has entered since its debut in 2000, the striking red compact has won roughly half the time, and placed in the top 3 in all but two events. We'll do our best to chronicle the goods that make this Falcon such a success, but first we need to state the obvious by pointing out Dunphy's talent behind the wheel.

Dunphy's vintage career began in 1994 when he took his '65 GT350 to Dralle Engineering for a competition makeover. Dave and Dan Dralle did a masterful job on the Shelby, and several years were spent perfecting both the car and the owner's driving skill.

By 1999, Dunphy was ready for a change. The value of the Shelby was always in the back of his mind, and the desire to be different had taken hold. A casual conversation with Edelbrock's Mike Eddie alerted Dunphy to the availability of Eddie's '65 Falcon project-a rare-for-'65 Sprint model that was in the process of being transformed to race car status. It proved the opportunity Dunphy had been seeking, and before long the Falcon was on its way to Dralle's Willow Springs facility.

Much of the Falcon's race prep would be along the same lines as one of Dralle's Mustang builds. Keeping in mind the sanctioning body's tight period requirements, the suspension is straightforward and consists of high rate springs, Koni shocks, an adjustable front sway bar, a panhard bar, and race spec bushings throughout. Braking comes from the FoMoCo parts bin, as it did back in the day. Up front you'll find big Lincoln discs and calipers, while 10x2.5-inch station wagon drums handle the decel out back. PS Engineering built the custom 15x8-inch rims, optimizing backspacing to get as much rubber as possible inside the Falcon's tweaked, but diminutive, fenderwells. Simplistic as it all sounds, you know there's got to be some tricks of the trade that Dunphy and Dralle hold close to the vest. After all, we've seen this bird really fly!

Underhood is a full-race Dralle short-deck Windsor-vintage legal, of course. Clearly out of bounds are modern niceties such as aluminum heads and roller rockers, but since compression and cam timing are virtually unlimited, suffice to say there's plenty of both. The short-block consists of a Boss 302 block and crank, Carrillo rods, and JE forged pistons, while the cylinder heads are fully prepped 351 Windsor castings. The whole shebang gets plenty of VP race fuel via a Holley 750 and single plane intake, while the remnants of combustion exit through Doug's headers, an X-pipe, and a short stretch of 3-inch tubing. Power is said to approach 500 horses as measured at the aluminum flywheel.

The inside of Dunphy's Falcon is a functional mix of old and new. Among the former is an original '65 Shelby steering wheel, an R-model-style bucket seat, and a Hurst shifter for the close-ratio Toploader. The latter includes a fire system and an array of Autometer gauges. The dash-mounted red light serves to immediately notify the driver of low oil pressure.

From a visual perspective, we're smitten by the Falcon's shimmering red topcoat and white stripe-a factory color scheme laid down in Deltron at Gantz Enterprises in Redmond, Washington. All closed-roof Sprints were of this hardtop variety, and while taking a back seat to the Mustang in the sales department, the few sightings these days are a pleasant change from the norm.

Even more pleasant is seeing Dunphy lead a pack of Chevys at 140-plus mph (a figure we came to by computing engine rpm and tire height, since the spartan cockpit lacks a speedometer). The speedo is one of the first items Dunphy eliminates on a race car, and not because of weight savings. "I don't want to scare the ---- out of myself," he said.

No doubt Dunphy will continue to put the scare in the opposition-a tribute to skilled driving, top-notch preparation, and a little Ford with a big case of overachievement.