Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
October 29, 2012

When it comes to drag racing, there are two schools of thought. One group subscribes to the notion that real race cars have three pedals, while the other contingent believes an automatic transmission is the best way to get from Point A to Point B in the shortest amount of time. Stick-naysayers' argument is that forward momentum is killed on gear changes. An automatic...they'll tell you, maintains forward momentum on gear changes. Stick bangers answer that argument by simply saying, "You must not know how to drive a stick!" And that's their only argument, and frankly, besides saying a stick car is more fun to drive, in their head, that's the only argument they need.

Then there's the argument of which transmission is easier on equipment. There's no question an automatic is easier on surrounding drivetrain equipment. A power-shifted stick delivers a sudden shock to the drivetrain, whereas an automatic doesn't hit so abruptly. The drivetrain has a chance to gather itself with an automatic, but with a stick, unless the car has a slipper clutch, the car goes from standstill to go-time... right now!

Because of that shock, stick bangers also run into the issue of perhaps too much power combined with too much traction, which can significantly reduce clutch life, or kill a clutch altogether on one pass. Sounds like a lot of work, huh?! Well, running an automatic isn't any easier. We've heard of guys changing converters many times over in an attempt to come up with the right balance of tightness, slip, and stall speed.

Many people think swapping to an automatic is an end-all answer to going fast, but ask anyone who's made the swap, and they'll tell you different. The trial and error between both transmissions is much the same, but both deal with the power-engaging component, the clutch or the torque converter. When it comes to drag racing, the decision to race an automatic or a stick is based on class rules. Many times there are weight breaks that come with running an automatic, as opposed to running a stick.

Unfortunately for Joe Charles and his Coyote Stock classmates, there's no weight break for running an automatic instead of a stick. However, Joe wanted to see how his car would react with an automatic so we're following along as he adds Performance Automatic's C4 Coyote Stock Pro Heads-Up Package and a Hurst shifter.

Horse Sense: The car Joe Charles pilots in Coyote Stock was originally his car, but MV Performance's Tim Matherly bought the body-in-white from Joe and built it into his Real Street car. Now that Tim has moved to an SN-10, Joe is "borrowing" the car for Coyote Stock.

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Before Tim moves up top to install the shifter, he installs the Dynotech Engineering Services aluminum driveshaft in place. An aluminum driveshaft reduces parasitic drag through the drivetrain because of its light weight. You may have to order a custom driveshaft for the swap so do your measuring before blindly choosing a driveshaft. If you're not sure about how to measure for a driveshaft, give Dynotech a call, and the company can walk you through the measurement process.