KJ Jones
Brand Manager, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
March 3, 2010
Photos By: Courtesy Of Sutton High Performance

Horse Sense:
We've received several reports of S197 owners' taking advantage of Ford Racing Performance Parts sale of Cobra Jet parts through Ford dealerships' parts departments. The practice is a direct throwback to drag racing's heyday (the late '60s), when enthusiasts literally could transform their brand-new Mustangs into race cars before taking delivery by simply checking the appropriate boxes on an order sheet. The GT is capable of running mid-12s at the dragstrip, but of course, going quicker and faster is usually the priority for 'Stang drag racers As one would expect, the pieces worked well on the street, providing the low and mean stance that makes Mustangs look hot, and improving cornering and overall handling

There are hundreds of variables that have some type of an influence on our Mustangs' performance before, during, and after we run them down the quarter-mile. Some of these influences are minor and some are fairly major.

One particular factor ranks near the top of the importance chart, for each and every 'Stang that hits the strip. Care to guess what it is? If "traction" is your guess, you're 100 percent correct!

Basically, horsepower, reaction time, and weather conditions all contribute to a Pony's on-track situation. The truth of the matter is, none of them really matter all that much if your horse has a hard time getting out of the gate and covering the first 60 feet of the dragstrip.

While Randy Mohrbach's '06 GT isn't one of the project Mustangs in our lineup, we have been monitoring its progress as a street/'strip, R&D vehicle, and business card of sorts, for Sutton High Performance; the go-fast subdivision of Sutton Ford Lincoln Mercury in Matteson, Illinois. Randy is the store's general manager and founder of its high-performance extension, and he has been diligent about keeping us abreast of the Pony's upgrades, and how they affect its performance.

Prior to this exercise, installing Ford Racing Performance Parts Cobra Jet drag suspension for '05-'10 Mustang GTs (PN M-5649-CJ; $995), the crew at Sutton has methodically transformed the red S197 from stone stock, to moderately hopped-up. Its performance features include cams, long-tube headers, Sutton's-own CNC-ported heads, and several other bolt-ons. It's currently producing 380 rwhp without using a power adder.

The GT is capable of running mid-12s at the dragstrip, but of course, going quicker and faster is usually the priority for 'Stang drag racers. "Right now, we're trying to get into the low 12s or high 11s with this car," says Randy. "I bought this Mustang to use as a car that we could present to enthusiasts who visit Sutton High Performance, and to demonstrate the different mods that are possible for S197s."

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Randy initially went the "slammed" route, bolting on Ford Racing Performance Parts' lowering springs and aftermarket upper/lower rear controls arms. As one would expect, the pieces worked very well on the street, providing the low and mean stance that makes Mustangs look hot, and improving cornering and overall handling. But at the dragstrip, in this suspension trim and with Mickey Thompson drag radials mounted on lightweight Bogart racing wheels, the Pony's best 60-foot time was 1.68.

"If you're trying to seriously drag-race an S197 Mustang, one of the car's biggest drawbacks to achieving good traction is its suspension system, which is not conducive to front-to-rear weight transfer," says Randy. "Our car was lowered, and that hurt its ability to hook and launch hard even more. I had been keeping tabs on how well the new Cobra Jet Mustangs have done at the track over the last year, and decided to try the bolt-on suspension kit on our car."

An antiroll bar is a tubular leverage device that attaches to a Pony's chassis and rearend housing, and helps increase or decrease the rear suspension's firmness. The adjustable bar basically works against chassis roll (brought about by torque), enabling a Mustang to plant both rear tires and launch squarely.

Of course, we've got photos and details for you straight away, so keep reading and see how Bryan Stepinski and Louis Sylvester Jr. (that's right, the NMRA Factory Stock racer) handled this bolt-on project, which takes about two-and-a-half to three hours to accomplish using basic hand and air tools.

On The Dragstrip
With the new suspension pieces in place, Sutton High Performance's return to the track and logged much-improved 60-foot statistics (1.62 compared to the previous best of 1.68).

"We're impressed with this setup," says Randy. "According to Kyle, the launch is much different and solid, with no roll and great hook. I'm sure we can get into the 1.50s with this suspension."

Since the upgrade, the Sutton HP crew has been fighting the challenge of getting the 'Stang to leave without bogging the engine. "The car now dead hooks when Kyle launches at 6,400 rpm. It never did that with the lowering springs and stock antiroll bar," says Randy.

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