Michael Galimi
September 1, 2010

In the modern world of EFI, our engines are controlled by a computer system that relies on input from several sensors. The ECU (electronic control unit) constantly evaluates these sensors to provide proper ignition timing and fueling to the engine. These sensors include the TPS (throttle position sensor), IAT (inlet air temperature), O2 for reading oxygen content in the exhaust, CAT (coolant temperature sensor), and a bevy of others, all for the purpose of keeping the engine running within its programmed parameters. With OBDII and today's available electronic tuners/monitors, virtually anyone can scan the parameters of the engine, even in real time.

Just like the ECU, keeping tabs on certain engine parameters allows you to fine-tune your Ford for maximum performance, or you can use the information to troubleshoot problems when the results are less than spectacular. Knowing what is going on under the hood is important-as the power increases so do the stakes. After all, you spent your hard-earned cash on the right go-fast goodies, so you should get the most from each component.

One of the more popular ways of keeping track of what's going under the hood is to install an assortment of aftermarket gauges. A-pillars and dashboards are littered with gauges placed in plain sight of the driver. The feedback from those gauges is great, but this data is often un-recorded for playback after the fact. A driver cannot be tasked with concentrating on hitting the shifts or the apex while evaluating each gauge. That scenario can be solved with the addition of a data-recording device so the information can be reviewed after the run on the track or dyno. "It used to be that you thought you knew what was going on under the hood," said Rick Anderson of Anderson Ford Motorsport. "With a data logger, you now know exactly what is going on."

Users of the Programmable Engine Management System (PMS), sold through Anderson Ford Motorsport (AFM) or an AFM dealer, have the opportunity to data-log the factory sensors and other inputs with the new FlashACQ data logger. FlashACQ is available for $299 and doesn't require a laptop to be in the car. It's a simple box that installs in under 10 minutes between the PMS piggyback ECU and handheld keypad.

The handheld continues to operate while the FlashACQ records the data from the factory sensors, or up to 20 other inputs. A laptop or desktop PC computer is required to review the data using the PMS InterACQ software. It will log 20 channels for the duration of the memory stick, which can be up to 30 minutes. As Anderson said, "t are getting really big," and that allows for more data storage for increased data-log time, making it perfect for dyno runs, quarter-mile action, or road-racing fun.

Knowledge is power and we recently put the FlashACQ to the test. Actually, it proved to be a valuable tool for Dave Salardino, who took home a win in the MM&FF/Tremec True Street class at the recent NMRA event in Atco, New Jersey. If you're unfamiliar with his coupe, it's described using the adjectives clean, fast, and ridiculous. Salardino cruises the local New Jersey streets regularly and enjoys competing in various area True Street events-it's a class MM&FF formed in 1993 for legit street cars.

The FlashACQ data logger has allowed car-builder Jim Chahalis, of Prepared By Jimmy C, to fine-tune the supercharged engine and dial-in the new UPR Pro Series rear suspension. This year, the coupe consistently knocked off low 9s at 150-plus mph, all while being driven to the track each time.

Driving a low-9-second Mustang on the street sounds easy, but that is far from the truth. Salardino has competed in True Street without any problems, but he found the car would generate a lot of heat on cruises longer than 30 miles. A few test cruises and dyno pulls with the FlashACQ showed the coolant (water in this case) was excessively high, as well as high air inlet temperatures. The radiator wasn't up to the task of cooling the supercharged 347ci bullet, and the overly hot air was hurting performance. Two changes were made-the addition of an AFM Mr. Freeze methanol injection system and a Be Cool Extreme radiator-with-electric-fan combo.

"Now I can cruise for a few hours and the water temperature won't go above 160 degrees," said Salardino. The meth kit helps cool the air-inlet temps as well as allow him to run 20-plus pounds per square inch of boost and 22 degrees of timing without detonation.

The FlashACQ was also a valuable troubleshooting tool when Chahalis was tuning the car on Radical Racing's chassis dyno. As we watched Chahalis bring the coupe to redline, there was definitely something wrong. The car didn't pull as clean as normal, the air/fuel reading was all over the place, and power was down by nearly 60 rwhp.

The first thing Chahalis did was remove the thumb drive from the FlashACQ and plug it into his laptop. He checked the boost log, but that showed a smooth curve with a peak of 23 psi at 6,300 rpm-no problem there. Then Chahalis reviewed the IAT (inlet air temperature) sensor readings, which had soared to 220 degrees, a far cry from the normal 140-150 degrees.

It was apparent that the meth wasn't spraying. We knew it wasn't a faulty pump because the Mr. Freeze relies on manifold boost to pressurize the system and deliver the methanol/water mix. Salardino had just filled the reservoir before the dyno pulls, so it wasn't out of fluid.

The culprit turned out to be a missing cap on the Mr. Freeze reservoir, causing the system to fail. With the cap on and meth system operating properly, Chahalis cracked the throttle and the power shot up to an impressive 780 rwhp through an FB Performance AOD transmission and down to the tires.

On track, the power translated to a three-run average of 9.18 for the True Street event win and a new personal best time of 9.03 at 152 mph. With a little more tuning (through the use of the Flash ACQ) and cooler weather, there's no doubt this coupe will soon be in the 8s.

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