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MSD Launch Control Installation and Test - Rev It Up Or Not
Get Control And Be Consistent With The Easy-To-Install MSD Launch Control Two-Step For All Mod-Motor Mustangs.
Consistency is a term that applies as much to street/strip Mustangs as it does to all-out race cars. It's due to the trickle-down effect, and one such component to help anyone be more consistent in a street-oriented but strip-driven Mustang is a two-step rpm controller. It's a simple component that uses two rpm limits-a low-side and a high-side-to help launch consistency. The low side is used to limit launch rpm so you can floor the gas pedal and the revs won't go higher than the designated level. The second "step" is the high-rpm rev limiter, which does not replace the computer's rev-limiter, but is used in addition to it.
A majority of the Stangs we come across feature some type of lowering springs, shocks and struts that are either stock or tagged for general use, and a set of sticky drag radials. The cars feature a mix of comfortable riding and marginally better-than-stock performance. That combination of suspension and tires usually doesn't bode well for traction at the dragstrip. It's nearly impossible to leave the starting line with the tach needle in the stratosphere. This is where a two-step rev limiter will help you be more consistent and get the most out of your car. For those who participate in drag-racing competitions, a two-step will help you hit the Tree better by allowing you to focus solely on the lights and not worrying if the rpm is just right.
The problem with two-step rev limiters in modular motor applications has been the lack of a distributor and the difficulty of tying into the factory ignition. The new MSD Launch Control unit is specific for the Coil-On-Plug ignition system. Essentially, modular motors have a coil for each cylinder, which is charged/activated via the computer wiring harness. The MSD Launch Control interfaces with each coil and cuts spark to limit rpm. A separate activation switch (handheld button, clutch switch, micro-switch, and so on) is used to release the rpm limit and switch to the high-side limit. Of course, your Mustang has a factory rev limiter, but the stock unit cuts fuel to control rpm, where the MSD unit cuts spark. The latter is much safer, especially in forced induction or nitrous applications, where a lean condition can lead to engine damage.The installation is virtually plug-and-play, save for setting up the activation switch.
Mike Dezotell of Dez Racing volunteered to handle the install and subsequent track testing for this story. At the time we called the Seekonk, Massachusetts-based shop, Dez had just purchased a new shop car and was looking to test this two-step. The timing couldn't have worked out better for us. The new Dez Racing shop car is an '01 Mustang GT with a fortified bottom end, TEA-ported Two-Valve heads, Anderson Ford Motorsport F-42 camshafts, Ford Racing/Bassani exhaust parts, and a ProCharger P1SC (12 psi). The car also utilizes an Anderson Ford Motorsport Hi-Rev clutch, 3.73 gears, and a set of M/T Drag Radial tires. The innocent Two-Valve ride makes 464 rwhp and is as tame as a stocker. Dez estimated it would run mid-11s all day long in that trim, but with a stick shift and mostly stock suspension, he needed a two-step to be consistent.
We shipped the unit to Dez Racing, asked the guys there to get the part installed, and then meet us at Englishtown for some testing the following week. The goal was to evaluate 60-foot times and show the effectiveness of a two-step controller. When working off the tach, the driver is constantly looking and focusing on the gauge cluster. Dez says, "It's hard to hit the Tree and be consistent without a two-step. You're trying to watch the rpm and the Tree at the same time." Dez is an accomplished racer with championship titles in the NMCA racing organization. He's also a veteran in the NMRA Real Street category, which requires the use of a stick-shift transmission.
Thanks to construction and New Jersey traffic, our testing didn't begin until the afternoon. That meant we had to make quick work on the track and not beat up the car too badly. That way, our results would be repeatable. Dez made nine 60-foot runs-four without the two-step and five with it-in order to evaluate the consistency in the short times. We prevented him from running the car out the back door on each pass so we could keep it fresh for a barrage of 60-foot runs. The ProCharged Pony was run through the quarter-mile only a couple of times, and only because Dez couldn't help himself. The best time was an 11.50 at 122 mph. This was accomplished on a set of Mickey Thompson Drag Radials (275/50-15).
Dez started the day without running the Launch Control unit, and his inconsistency on the starting line showed it. On the first run, he left too high and clicked off an anemic 2.24 60-foot. This was with a 4,500-rpm launch, which he thinks changed when he glanced up at the Tree. Next, Dez tried to leave at 3,500, but with the same result, though not as bad. The car barked the tires with a 1.93 60-foot, but Dez again reported he couldn't be certain he left at 3,500 rpm when he took his eyes off the tach. He backed up the 3,500-rpm launch with a 1.94 on the next run. The third back-up hit at 3,500 rpm had a disastrous result with a 1.99 60-foot. He said he went above 3,500 rpm despite trying to keep it steady. "I couldn't even concentrate on hitting the Tree since this car is so sensitive with the leave rpm, especially while running on drag radials," Dez says about his frustration with the launch rpm.
It was time to turn on the Launch Control, and we started out at 3,800 rpm. The engine stuttered as the MSD unit did its job-not the harsh two-step sound like the typical bracket racer's car, but rather a smooth pup-pup-pup. Dez quickly let out the clutch pedal, disengaging the Launch Control in the process thanks to it being wired off the clutch pedal. The M/T tires chirped and the car clocked a 1.95 60-foot time. On the next trip, Dez lowered the leave to 3,500 rpm, and the car loved it. Away the silver GT went, covering the 60-foot time in only 1.87 seconds. Two more runs produced 1.84 and 1.86 60-foot times. Despite three solid runs (3,500-rpm leave) under our belts, we prodded Dez to do one more just to verify the 60-foot time. Sure enough, the silver Two-Valve flyer knocked off a 1.86 60-foot time.
We were satisfied, and Dez summed it up best, saying, "The Launch Control basically eliminates a major factor when driving. You just floor it and let the MSD controller do its job. Then I could concentrate solely on the Tree. It also makes the car very consistent, helps you find the sweet spot on the tach, and lets you nail it every time."