KJ Jonesx
February 15, 2012
Photos By: KJ Jones

On the Dragstrip

"If it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all." Believe it or not, your tech editor was starting to feel that way about racing at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Luck had been nothing but bad in two previous attempts to compete at the PSCA's Street Car Super Nationals—broken T-top Coupe engine in 2009/broken '02 GT rearend in 2010—and apprehension about the third try was at an all-time high. Despite this, and with Big Steve along for the ride, we journeyed back to Vegas for SCSN7 in November of 2011, hoping the mechanical demons of the past would not play any role in this attempt.

We would love to tell you that SCSN7 was a picture-perfect experience for the 5.0&SF team and the other participants (including NMRA Hot Street racers such as Robbie Blankenship, Don Bowles, Ben Mens, and Mike DeMayo), who traveled from far and wide for the race. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Despite great weather throughout the weekend, carnage (mainly engine failures/oil leakage) wreaked havoc on the event's schedule.

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Adjustments in the schedule and minor gremlins with our Mustang (a grounded kill switch and broken blower belt) forced us to abort our two attempts at qualifying, leaving us with limited data going into the first round of eliminations in the Ford Racing Mustang Maddness class (an Open Comp-format category for Ford-powered Mustangs). Since we didn't have an e.t. recorded from a full qualifying pass, PSCA officials allowed us to select an index to use throughout eliminations. After deliberating over a full-out pass or actually trying to race and win one or more rounds, we chose the latter option and elected to run against an 11.00 index. In most instances, running an 11.01 on an 11.00 index is a package that's difficult to beat. However, with a 0.541 reaction time (to Kevin St. Clair's 0.067 light), T-top coupe hit the trailer after the first round.

How did the project car do on the track? Despite the lack of making a full run, excellent, mainly because we brought it back from Las Vegas without experiencing any catastrophic breakage.

A review of the car's XFI 2.0 datalog and the incremental data from the 11.01 run show that the coupe was on its way to a mid-10-second e.t. in its only round of competition despite horrendous inconsistencies in throttle and rpm (driver off-and-on the gas). The e.t. and mph at the eighth-mile were 6.808/100.97. When we look at the 6.80 time plot on the datalog, throttle position is barely over 42 percent, and never reaches a full 100 percent until 8.80--2 full seconds later--and rpm is barely 5,000-5,300. Add to that the revelation that--despite "thinking" the pedal was slammed wide open all the way through the run--the throttle blade actually was slammed shut from 1,000 feet through the end of the quarter-mile (the datalogger doesn't lie). The numbers show that Project T-top Coupe, with its 3,610 pounds (w/driver), 908 rear-wheel horsepower, and 700 lb-ft of torque, is by all means an animal that should run low 9s, or maybe even high-8 seconds.

We're definitely excited about getting Couptie back to the track and making a full pass in 2012. However, until that time comes, the 'Stang once again will see fairly regular cruise duty on the streets of SoCal's San Fernando Valley. After all, it is a street car.

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