There was a time when a Modular-based drag event didn’t have staying power. Whether it was a lack of aftermarket support, not enough competitors, or just the wrong time of year, we remember the Modular-based events from years gone by. Thankfully, as evidenced by the turnout at ModNationals 2018, things have changed. New ideas, new venues, new dates, and more importantly, the support of the performance aftermarket has changed the Modular Mustang landscape for the better.
Perhaps the biggest change is that Mustang performance enthusiasts have embraced the Coyote engine, which has caused a trickle down/competitive effect on the Modular engine community. If you don’t have a Coyote-powered Mustang, it seems you want to beat a Coyote-powered Mustang. The Coyote engine has created more competition between Mustangs, which is good for making sure someone is in the other lane at the dragstrip.
At ModNationals 2018, there were plenty of competitors in the other lane at South Georgia Motorsports Park. What’s more, mix a sticky racing surface with cool, fall temps, and personal records didn’t have a prayer. Several racers recorded personal bests at ModNationals 2018 in just about every class. The good thing about ModNationals is that there’s a variety of classes for just about every Modular- or Coyote-powered Mustang or Ford. There was a Modular Outlaw, King of the 4V (Cobra vs. Coyote), a 6R80/10R80 class, and even an Underdog class for Two- and Three-Valve cars.
For the full-skinny on the 2018 ModNationals, peep the captions. Hopefully this will keep you going until the 2019 version, which is scheduled to take place November 13 -17 at South Georgia Motorsports Park.
Bart Tobener has never met a race he didn’t like. The Race Parts Solution front man competed in Mod Outlaw at ModNationals, but a little too much grip caused his car to wheelie against eventual winner Eric Leeper. “I didn’t have anything for him…car has only been 4.50s in that trim, but I was trying,” Tobener said. He had to short-shift, causing a loss of boost, allowing Leeper to get the win. Tobener uses an MPR-built 305-inch Coyote with a Holley Sniper intake, an 88mm single turbo, a Holley Dominator EFI and 160 lb/hr injectors and JGS wastegates. Behind the Coyote is a Proformance Racing Transmissions Powerglide with a ProTorque GenX converter. The car’s 25.3 chassis was built by Scott Black at Chassis Pro, and features a Cobra Jet rear suspension.
One of our favorite race cars from ModNationals was Keith Ciborowski’s Dark Shadow gray 2003 Cobra. Competing in King of the 4V class, which is designed to pit 2003-2004 Cobras against Coyote-powered Mustangs, Ciborowski ran in the 7.50s at the ModNationals, and that was good enough to get him to the semi-final round, but not past Jake Conant. Ciborowski’s Cobra boasts a sleeved Coyote engine from Rich Groh Racing Engines/JPC complete with Oliver rods, Diamond pistons, a stock crank, ported heads, and JPC turbo cams. His power adder of choice is a Precision ProMod 85mm single turbo, while tuning is done via a Holley Dominator ECU. Sticking with the JPC theme, Ciborowski tunes the car with help from Eric Holliday and Kevin MacDonald. A TSI/JPC Powerglide is in the tunnel with a ProTorque GenX Converter.
Donnie Gilder had a great weekend in the Unicorn. His S550 features a Fast Forward Race Engines powerplant, a Hellion Power Systems twin turbo system, a Brett LaSala built 6R80, a Steeda Autosports suspension, and a Sai Li tune. At ModNationals, Gilder busted out a 1.24 60-foot time, on the way to an 8.63 at 165 mph. The car is just at home on the street, as well, and weighs in at 3,880 pounds. Racing in Heavy Street, Gilder bowed out at the hands of eventual class winner, Thomas Benavidez, in round 3.
Marty Balintfy brought his 2004 Mystichrome Cobra to ModNationals to compete in Driver Mod and True Street. His Cobra had been stuck in the 10.0s, but he was finally able to break into the 9s with a 9.98 at 142 mph. In True Street, Marty ran a 10.05, a 10.001, and a 10.33 for a 10.129 average. In Driver Mod, Balintfy did very well before running up against Yandro Ulloa’s Minion in the semi-final round. Balintfy’s Cobra features its stock engine with Comp cams, a supercharger pushing 22 pounds of boost, Metco pulleys, a Fore fuel system, Kooks 1 ¾-inch long-tube headers and 3-inch X-pipe, and a Bassani 3-inch after-cat. The stock T56 is beefed up with a 26-spline input shaft and a McLeod RXT clutch, while the chassis benefits from a Racecraft K-member. The IRS has GForce Performance half-shafts, Viking shocks, and 3.73 gears.
Eric Leeper arguably has one of the nicest Mustang drag cars in existence. What started out life as a 1966 Coupe was turned into a more aerodynamic fastback by AC Carcraft in Coral Springs, Florida. The body was transformed around the chassis, while a MPR-built Ford GT 5.4 is nestled under the hood and filled with Diamond pistons, GRP billet aluminum rods, a billet crank, and Bullet Racing cams atop Navigator heads. Boost comes from a Garrett GTX Gen2 88mm turbo plumbed with Race Part Solutions tubing and fittings, along with a Chiseled Performance intercooler and ice tank. Leeper does the tuning with a Fueltech FT600 and the combo gets its fire from an FTSpark CDI ignition. A ProTorque Revolution converter is coupled to a Proformance Racing Transmissions-built Turbo 400, while Santhuff struts reside up front with Precision Racing suspension-tuned Penske's in the rear. Those shocks and struts do the job of taming the Weld V-series wheels custom-coated by Mr. Speed on Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pros, and The Brake Man’s best brings the fun to a stop. Speaking of which, no one was able to stop Leeper and his fastback in Mod Outlaw, and he was able to take the win over JPC’s Justin Burcham in the final.
For Justin Jordan, it’s been a race to the 6s, no matter the venue, event, or track. At the ModNationals, every pass it seemed everyone was waiting for a 6.9-something to light up the scoreboard. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, but one thing that did happen was that Jordan got the win in the King of 4Vclass. Jordan uses an MPR-built engine with a Hellion twin turbocharger system featuring Precision 6466 units, a TSI Powerglide with a ProTorque converter, a BMR rear suspension, a Pro Fab Performance anti-roll bar, and a Racecraft front suspension with Santuff struts. Watch for a full feature on Jordan’s car in a future issue.
Tom Benavidez won Heavy Street in a car built by Small Blower winner Oscar Morin, who says the car was built in five weeks. The car wasn’t even ready when they left for ModNationals before arriving at Triangle Speed Shop to finish it up. The team used the qualifying runs to dial in the 2013 California Special, which boasts an MPR-built engine, a ProFormance Racing Transmissions Turbo 400, a BMR suspension, Viking shocks and struts, a TigVision 10-point cage, and a custom twin turbocharger system consisting of Precision 67/66 units. Oscar says the high 7-second car has more in it, and can’t wait until ModNationals 2019.
Like Justin Jordan, Yandro Ulloa was also trying to eclipse an elapsed time hurdle by getting his car into the 7s at ModNationals. With every pass, everyone was looking for the scoreboard to light up a 7-second pass. Fortunately, our dreams, and Ulloa’s, came true when he ran a 7.99 at 178 mph, and then backed it up with a 7.92 at 180 mph. The Minion features a Levin Motorsports-built and tuned Four-Valve with a pair of Precision 6870 turbochargers, an AEM Management system, and a Tremec T56 Magnum tricked out by RPM Transmissions. The car is looking good thanks to Truline Collision in Tampa, Florida. Ulloa won the Driver Mod class after beating Ben Stoner in the Fathouse Fabrications 2011 Mustang GT.
Taylor Baker wasn’t necessarily happy about being in the Driver Mod 2nd chance race, but sometimes you have to keep moving. Baker was busy tracking down a bad sensor, and an exhaust leak that became worse as the event went along. The sensor failure is what knocked him out of the main race. However, he had enough to take the win in the Driver Mod 2nd chance race. Baker’s ride is a 2004 Cobra, featuring a stock bottom-end, MHS-ported heads, PAC valve springs, KMS custom cams, Accufab and Shelby Mike Racing timing components, twin Precision 6466 turbochargers, a face-plated T56, a 9-inch rear, a ProEFI Engine Management System, Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pro 275s, and E85 in the tank. Baker says the car is still a full-weight car, as it has a full interior, A/C, power steering, and power brakes. “It was saying 3,610-3,660 the past few times I crossed the scales,” Baker says. He adds that he is just now starting the figure out the tune at its current power level. He keeps it safe since it sees a lot of street action. “It went 8.30’s at WCF and then 8.20’s at ModNats on pretty much the same tune-up aside some fueling changes,” Baker says.
If we were just going off the elimination sheets from ModNats, we would be talking about Jim Brown, but thankfully, the winner was actually Jim Braun in his 2012 Mustang GT. Braun relies on Fast Forward Racing Engines for machine work, but the engine, along with the car’s turbo system and 10-point roll cage, is self-built. The 6R80 in Braun’s car has a lot of Brett LaSala’s billet parts in it, along with a Circle D converter, and the rear has Strange Engineering 35-spline axles in it. Braun’s GT is usually in the 8.0-range at around 178 mph, and he plans on doing a lot of racing in 2019. For 2018, Braun closed out the year with a ModNationals win in the 6R80/10R80 class.
Oscar Morin was a busy man leading up to ModNationals 2018. His shop Shrek Motorsports specializes in Coyote builds, and this 2016 Mustang GT (far lane) is owned by Ariel Salinas. Morin drove the car, nicknamed “The Toro,” and it has an MPR sleeved Coyote, a Gen 3 supercharger ported by Jason Teixeira, a Triangle Speed Shop tune, a BMR suspension, Viking shocks and struts, and a Double AA Performance K-member. Morin made it look easy by running consistent 8.60s at over 157 mph to get the win. “Shout out to Daniel and Craig Pachar from Triangle Speed Shop for their support,” Morin says.
In the Battle of the Underdogs, which is a Two-Valve vs. Three-Valve class, Andrew Lavender was the last man standing with his 2003 Mustang GT. Under the hood is a garage-built Two-Valve with PI heads, custom Todd Warren cams, and a single BorgWarner 76mm turbocharger. Lavender uses a Holley EFI system, a Turbo 400 transmission, and Mickey Thompson ET Drag Radial Pro 275s. This combination is good for 8.50s and a Battle of the Underdogs win at the 2018 ModNationals.