Although clearly designed more with a handling bias in mind, the Stage 3 is still a piece of good ol' Detroit muscle, so strip time was a must. If anybody was going to wring some serious numbers out of this car on the quartermile it was Joe Da Silva. After getting used to the car, Joe found it best to shift at 5500 rpm. One thing that did strike us, was how consistent the Stage 3 was at launch. He'd get on it out of the hole and just bang out 1.90 60-foots all day long. With Sunoco 94 Octane fuel (the tank was almost full by the way) and no tinkering with the car (yes, that means taking stuff out and dickying with the tire pressures), Joe got it running consistent 13.2s at around 104 miles per hour. Roush claims the car will run 12.6s - maybe we should try some more runs in cooler weather(it was the end of June when we did our testing).
The more time we got to spend with the Roush, the more fond we grew of it. This is a car that you can hop into and drive everyday, yet can pound out on the track or down the strip.The factory setup with the blower is fairly conservative, but to be honest, 500 horsepower is largely for bragging rights and for us, 415 ponies and 385 lb/ft of torque is more than enough for most situations. We already know the S197 Mustang in base form is a capable car, but Roush Performance has taken that package and injected the regular car's DNA with a ton of sporting prowess. That's how ingrained and integrated this car feels. With our time over and having relinquished the keys, we looked back on our time with the Roush Stage 3 and tried to find a selection of words that could sum up this car. In the end we didn't need to. On our way out of the Roush Performance lobby, we stopped by a poster. It said 'between a race car and a road car is a Roush car'. As far as the Stage 3 Mustang is concerned, we couldn't agree more.
First, Waterford Hills is an amazing little track. I say 'little' because you can stand at most points of the track and see most other points. The course layout packs a lot of challenge into a surprisingly economical amount of land. This, of course, can have its greater and lesser issues. On the greater side, it is certainly a driver's track. There are elevation changes, including a blind crest, on-camber turns that let you nestle the car into the next slingshot launch, and a shortish back straight where you can - briefly - let it all hang out. There is also a particularly challenging set of three (or is it four?) infield turns that take forethought and planning to traverse in the minimum amount of time. It is almost an autocross-like pace through the course that leaves the uninitiated with no time to plan ahead ... only to react. Against this backdrop, but without prior knowledge of the track, we climbed into the pilot's seat of the Stage 3 Mustang. An instructor occupied the right side and his objective was to get us familiar with the track and its nuances in the minimum time. From the time we first hit the tarmac, it seemed as though the next 15 minutes passed in about three heartbeats. Don't ask me how fast I was going up the back straight, because I have no idea. My first couple of laps were slow, so we changed places for a little tour. In those couple of minutes, it dawned on me that this car could be pushed far harder than I had expected. Back in the driver's seat, we began to search for a limit. In the end, I think that we were running through 30 percent of the course with the BF Goodrich g-Force KD tires squealing.
Three good things came out of this experience. First, I kept the shiny side up and didn't modify any landscaping at Waterford Hills. Second, a new and broader appreciation of the Roush Stage 3 Mustang was gained. The suspension is superb in these conditions and the enormous torque from the ROUSHCharged engine simply lets you leave the car in third gear and concentrate on learning the course. Yeah, it's kind of a wussy approach, but it's also nice to have the option. Through the entire session of pushing the car harder each lap, the only time it ever broke loose was when I got a little greedy with the throttle. Even the instructor commented positively on the durability and effectiveness of the brakes when we were done, which might tell you something about my driving.
Susan Roush-McClenaghan (middle) and husband dale with their open comp 1967 cougar.
What? The third thing? Oh, yeah... Please, sir. I want more. - Don Roy
All In The Family
What Initially Started as a fun way to spend some summer afternoon time together has now become an obsession for the Roush family, with the launch of the Roush Performance Drag Racing Team. Susan Roush-McClenaghan in her 2003 Ford Mustang and her husband Dale McCleneghan, piloting the 1967 Mercury Cougar, both in the NMRA Open Comp class. Jack Roush, Jr. stepped into the seat of the 2001 Ford Mustang that is being used as a modular engine development vehicle. Susan is the oldest of Jack's three children, rounded out by sister Patricia and Jack, Jr. Growing up with Jack Roush as your father tended to skew some life experiences. Susan recalls, "Instead of learning to cross the road safely, I first learned to cross pit lanes." She and husband, Dale, are literally high school sweethearts, having hung out together since age 14.