Patrick Hill Associate Editor
October 1, 2007

Horse Sense: You don't necessarily need a V-8 to go fast. When the S197 Mustang debuted, it brought a new era in V-6 performance. From cold-air intake kits to exhaust parts, nitrous, cams, and power adders, the base Mustang can become a six-pack powerhouse capable of sucker punching unsuspecting V-8s.

Rebecca Starkey fell in love with her '06 Tungsten V-6 at first sight. She and her husband, Justin, installed the Pony Package grille, and Rebecca recently installed a smaller pulley on the Vortech blower for some added power. Now with almost 400 hp at the wheels, this V-6 can easily take Mustang GTs, or just about anyone else foolish enough to underestimate the 4.0's power.

After a short hiatus, Babe of the Year is back. Rebecca Starkey, our '06 Queen of the Mustang Maidens, isn't only a pretty face with a hot Pony. Our new Babe of the Year has no qualms about getting dirty to boost the horsepower in her 'Stang.

Before running her Tungsten '06, Rebecca drove and drag raced a '95 V-6 Mustang. While racing at Orlando Speed World one night, she ran against Justin Starkey and his '00 V-6. The two hit it off, and it eventually resulted in one of the few marriages that began with a drag race.

Justin's Debary, Florida, company, VMP Tuning, needed an S197 V-6 car for test and tuning development when he came across this Tungsten '06. Rebecca fell in love with the car at first sight, and the two drove off the lot with their new V-6 test mule. In January 2006, Rebecca parked her SN-95 in favor of the 4.0 S197 as her daily driver while the car was being used for tuning development. After a VMP Tuning cold-air kit, GT muffler, and tune, the car went from 186 to 210 rwhp and was ready for testing.

Rebecca raced the Mustang for the first time in March 2006 at the V-6 Ford Challenge at South Georgia Motorsports Park, with a best e.t. of 14.6 at 95 mph. This wouldn't do for her, and with a Vortech blower kit from Central Florida Motorsports sitting on the shelf at home, the next step was obvious. Since her classes at UCF were taking up most of her time, Rebecca couldn't install the Vortech until May. Along with the blower and a 3.6-inch pulley, she installed-that's right, she installed-a Vortech aftercooler, then had Justin put a VMP tune on the car. With 7 psi of forced induction, the car made 315 hp and 307 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. Rebecca took the Mustang to the strip and clicked off a 13.9 e.t. at 103 mph on the stock BFGoodrich tires.

During one of the drag tests with the 3.6-inch pulley, the Mustang fried its factory clutch while running slicks. Knowing the car's horsepower would continue to increase, along with plenty of dragstrip testing, Rebecca went to the clutch experts at SPEC for one of the company's Stage 3 units, along with a SPEC flywheel.

Still lusting for more speed, Rebecca installed a 2.87-inch pulley, boosting the car's power to 351 hp at the wheels with 347 lb-ft of torque. The car was running faster with 13 psi of boost, but there wasn't a chance to track test it. Still wanting more power, she installed a 2.62-inch pulley. This brought the horsepower to 395 at the wheels with 374 lb-ft of torque on 116-octane unleaded race gas, and 370 hp on 93-octane pump gas. At the same time, dual exhaust was installed. With 15 psi of boost, the Mustang ran 12.50 at 110, despite having some cooling issues while running at the track.

Rebecca loves driving the car, but she still wants more power. Future mods include twin-turbo power and a beefier five-speed to handle everything the 4.0 will put out. For now, Rebecca's drag racing career is on hold as she and Justin await the arrival of their first child, due right around the time 5.0&SF nation reads this story. Congrats on the new Mustang racer!

In between going to school at UCF [Editor Turner's alma mater. Go Knights! -Ed.] and working at VMP Tuning in Debary, Florida, with Justin, Rebecca spends her time wrenching her car, recently installing a 2.62-inch pulley for extra boost. Even still, the Mustang isn't fast enough for her. Future plans call for installing a turbo system to get the 4.0 near the 500hp mark.

VMP Tuning specializes in tuning V-6 and V-8 power Mustangs. It also offers other performance products through its Web site ( "I'd like to thank Justin and my parents, Ray and Cindy Shaw. They're instrumental to my success in all the things I do. They're supportive of all my endeavors. I'd also like to thank my sponsors-VMP tuning, SPEC Clutches, PMP, CFM, and Dynojet."

Bassani Xhaust sponsors our Babe of the Month contest. Darryl Bassani himself sent us shirts for our BOTY to wear during our shoot to show the 5.0&SF nation how good a Bassani shirt can look.

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5.0 Tech Specs
BlockEngine Management
StockStock computer w/VMP
Displacement Ignition
4.0, 242ciStock
Rotating Assembly Gauges
Stock short-blockStock
Cylinder Heads Stock
Stock, no portingA-Arms
Intake Manifold Stock
Throttle Body Stock
VMP Tuning 98mm unitWheels
Power Adder Stock
Vortech V2SQ Intercooled blower, 2.62-in Brakes
puley, 15lbsl of boostStck w/PMP Roll Control
Stock headers w/GT H-pipe, stock cats, andSprings
GT dual mufflersStock
Fuel SystemShocks
Stock fuel pump w/wiring upgrade, 42lb/hr Stock
injectors, stock fuel railsWheels
TransmissionStock Aluminum
Stock T5 w/SPEC stage 3+ clutch andBrakes
pressure plate, stock shifterStock
GT 8.8-in rear, 3.55 gears,
aftermarket driveshaft by Shop