May 10, 2006

Enthusiasts who travel a different path are inspiring, because it takes a lot of guts to be different. These folks inspire us with their courage. Courageous are the folks who stuff double overhead-cam Ford V-8s in classic Mustangs. Bold are those who manage to fit huge engines where they weren't designed to fit. Gutsy are those who try something no one has ever tried before, like a four-cylinder Ford diesel-powered '65 Mustang hardtop--actually done by Jim Gorman in Mansfield, Ohio, 25 years ago.

Drag racer Kelly McLearran of Tucson, Arizona, is equally as gutsy for even more reasons. She and her husband, Will, decided to build a turbocharged six-cylinder Falcon sedan and wound up blowing the doors off a sizable percentage of their V-8 counterparts with 12-second time slips, currently 12.49 seconds at 109 mph.

You might be inclined to ask why. Why a six-cylinder compact sedan instead of a V-8 Mustang? Kelly's inspiration for something different originated December 7, 2001, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30. At this age, breast cancer is one of the last things a woman expects to hear from a physician during a routine checkup. Kelly, faced with her greatest challenge ever, chose to go after both the cancer and a new-found desire to race.

Kelly caught her go-fast passion from Will while watching him drag race late-model Mustangs, but her efforts took on a different meaning. She was drag racing to help raise breast cancer awareness. Kelly coined the phrase "Quarter-Mile For A Cure," and her proceeds have gone to support breast cancer research ever since.

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When Kelly and Will were looking for a drag racer, they didn't expect to find a low-mileage original '63 Falcon Futura two-door sedan with the original factory paint from Mt. Sterling, Illinois. If taking a low-mileage original and turning it into a drag racer disturbs you, take heart. The McLearrans purchased the car from someone who was already in the process of building a drag racer for the V-Stock Eliminator class using the original 170ci six. The first time Kelly and her husband took this car drag racing, it clocked in a whopping 20.52 seconds at 65 mph on the quarter-mile, not exactly enough to detach the retinas, but it was a start.

For the inline sixes, the McLearrans used the mindset of Will's experience with turbocharging small-block Fords. Because the 170 lacked sufficient bottom-end support and displacement, it just didn't make sense to go forced-induction with the car's original iron. Will started with a bare 250ci block, which employs a greater stroke than the 170 or 200 sixes. Will and Kelly then laid out a plan for turbocharging. They went to the Ford Six Performance Parts Web site for ideas and components and were set up with the right camshaft and valvetrain that included roller rockers for improved top-end performance.