Bobby Byrd's FR500C
To anyone with such interests, a first view of the specs for the 2005 Mustang immediately suggested that this was going to be a far better handling car than its predecessor. The six-inch gain in wheelbase promised an end, or at least a significant reduction, to the car's nose-heavy affliction. Coupled with a two-inch increase in front and rear track, visions of sugar plums were dancing in the heads of any open track racers with a Mustang bias.
Doubtless, one of those was Dan Davis, the director of Ford Racing Technology, who revealed plans for a factory-built Mustang race car in November, 2004. "The Mustang is synonymous with performance modifications and competitive racing," Davis said at the time. "It has an unparalleled pedigree in many forms of racing, and the all-new 2005 Mustang makes a terrific platform to continue that history of racing competition and victories."
It wasn't long before Davis was walking the walk. In the 2005 season-opening Grand-Am Cup 200 race, co-drivers Ian James and Tom Nastasi drove the Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang GT to victory at Daytona International Speedway. It was the debut race for the car, and it was the first Grand-Am Cup Series overall victory for a Mustang of any generation. "When we started this program our goal was to build and sell identical Mustangs that people could win with and I think we proved that today," added Davis.
The Grand Am Cup cars were built by Multimatic Motorsports, near Toronto, under the guidance of resident Ford engineers. Multimatic had previously been enlisted to help develop a Daytona Prototype car that went on to win its class in the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race, in 2003. One of the Ford people helping out on that project was Jay O'Connell. After the success of the Daytona Prototype, Ford Racing awarded Multimatic the task of developing the FR500C Competition Mustang. O'Connell was key in developing chassis and suspension upgrades for Ford's effort in the Grand-Am Cup Series. Jay O'Connell subsequently returned to vehicle development as Ford SVT's Chief Vehicle Engineer.
The FR500C 'Boy Racer' Mustang continued to dominate the Grand Am Cup races until series officials began issuing technical restrictions. The car's original 4.10 ratio rear axle gears were outlawed and 3.55 gears became mandatory. An air intake restrictor was mandated and the car's regulated minimum weight was changed a couple of times.
Based on the car's success by mid-season, Ford Racing decided to authorize production of 'up to 25' additional cars through Multimatic. By the season ending race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), a total of seven Mustang FR500C's appeared in Virginia, including two new entries from Blackforest Motorsports, bringing their team stable to a total of three cars. The FR500C 'customer cars', such as the one you see here, were made available through Ford Racing Performance Parts dealers, at a cost of $125,000 each. By the 2006 Grand Am Cup season opener in Daytona, a total of 12 FR500C's were on the entry list (plus another three SVT Cobras). The new Mustang racer represented almost one-quarter of the 51-car field.
Bobby Byrd likes to go fast and he's got the Mustang affliction ... bad. Before picking up this FR500C, Bobby campaigned a 1993 Mustang in open track events, including the inaugural American V8 Supercar Series event at VIR. The 1993 car featured a 347 stroker engine and evolved as Bobby's skills grew. The Charlotte-area landscaping contractor jumped at the opportunity to pick up a new FR500C when it came out. From there, he's never looked back.
No Pimpin' Here
Were he to take the time, he could have seen what happened to his car. His car arrived, at the Multimatic facility in Canada, as a bare steel shell. The car body had already made a trip through Watson Engineering to have its Multimatic-designed roll cage installed. Every open seam in the body structure of the car was welded to increase the structural rigidity of the car and improve its durability under the extreme conditions of road racing.
Preparation and paint came next, then it was time for assembly to begin in earnest. Initial fitting begins with chassis items needed to create a rolling shell. Suspension build-up includes special 3-way adjustable struts and shocks, along with coil-over springs all around. Multimatic was quite involved with suspension development on the 2005 Mustang, including providing their proprietary design for the front lower control arm. The dampers used on the FR500C provide for adjustment of both high and low speed compression, as well as rebound characteristics. Upgraded urethane bushings are used throughout the build of the front and rear suspensions.
Brembo 4-piston brake calipers are installed at the front end of the car, with production level brake components providing the needed services elsewhere. When the car is ready for final delivery, those brakes will be hooked up to Fiske 18 x 10-inch forged modular wheels at both front and rear, along with Hoosier 275/35R18 Grand Am Cup specification race tires.
When it comes time to fit the drivetrain, Ford's 5-liter Cammer crate engine is the star of the show. This engine features a Ford Racing 356-alloy aluminum block, that was specifically designed for the 5.0L engine program. Fitted with high-flow cylinder heads, 12mm lift camshafts with unique valves, springs and rocker arms, the top end of the 4-cam is as about racy as you can get. The bottom end is just as well kitted out, with high-strength connecting rods, forged pistons delivering an 11:1 compression ratio and a variable geometry long/short runner magnesium intake manifold.
Working along the driveline, you'll also find a Ford Racing Performance Parts clutch, Tremec 6-speed gear banger, single piece aluminum driveshaft and a Trac Tech C Locker differential in an 8.8-inch axle. The Trac Tech product is a positive action, ratchet-type locking differential, which many consider to be the best for road racing use. Early FR500C's were built with 4.10 rear gears, but Grand Am later required a change to Ford's 3.55 cogs. Since Bobby doesn't run in the spec series, he's stayed with the numerically higher set for maximum grunt out of the corners and even tried a set of 4.30s for a time.
If the interior of this high speed Pony looks sparse, that's just because it's all business. After the wiring harnesses are installed, a center mounted switch panel provides most control functions. Perched atop the steering column is an EFI digital dash system, that provides instrumentation and data logging capabilities. Mind you, you might not rush out to pick up one of these for your own Mustang unless you're very serious about your data - a fully configured EFI Level II System comes with a five-figure price tag. At the gripping end of the column, you'll find a Personal 320mm quick-release steering wheel. Elsewhere inside, you'll find a cable-operated fire suppression system and a Sparco racing seat. Willans Harness' 6-point safety straps from Stockbridge Racing in the UK add restraint where it's needed most.
All of this work has been proven to provide one of the winningest road race packages available. Widely available to both professional and amateur racers, the FR500C Mustang builds on both Ford's and Multimatic's intimate knowledge of the S197 Mustang. So when it comes down to it , $125,000 isn't a heck of a lot for a thoroughbred - of any kind, come to think of it.
Bobby Byrd's FR500C Mustang
Brembo 4-piston front brake calipers; ATL custom dual dry break fuel cell, 20 gal. capacity;
Unit body structure is fully seam welded with integrated safety cage added by Wilson Engineering; Willans 6-point safety harness; SPARCO racing seat, cable activated fire extinguisher; EFI digital dash system for data logging and display; Personal 320mm quick release steering wheel
Dynamic Suspensions' (a UK-based division of Multimatic) inverted struts, 3-way adjustable (high/low speed compression & rebound), ride height adjustable coil over front springs, caster/camber plates, urethane bushings, adjustable front anti-roll bar, coil-over rear dampers, 3-link rear suspension with panhard bar and urethane bushings
Wheels And Tires
Fiske 18 x 10" front and rear; Hoosier 275/35R18 Grand Am Cup specification race tires
Bobby Byrd's FR500C Mustang
Ford Racing 5.0 'Cammer' V8
Ford Racing 356 alloy aluminum block, specifically designed for the 5.0L engine program, high-flow cylinder heads, 12mm lift camshafts with unique valves, springs and rocker arms, high-strength racing connecting rods, forged pistons with 11:1 compression ratio, variable geometry long/short runner magnesium intake manifold; Walbro 255 l/h fuel pump; Ford Racing Performance Parts clutch; C&R aluminum radiator with integrated oil cooler; custom Bassani exhaust system
Tremec T-56 6 speed transmission; Ford Racing 4.10 ratio rear 8.8" axle; Trac Tech C Locker differential
400 flywheel HP (est.)