KJ Jones Senior Technical Editor
May 1, 2009
Photos By: KJ Jones, Courtesy Of Paul Schmitz, Reflections Of Motorsports
Although suggested tire-pressure settings for Nitto's Extreme Drag Radials vary among the posts we read on Mustang message forums (we found that 12.5 to 14 psi works well), doing "a super-smoky burnout" definitely was a unanimous recommendation for achieving good traction and launches. A Two-Step (for launch-rev control)/line-lock (for front brake control) combo like the one we installed on our '02 Mustang GT is exactly what you need to get the tires clean and hot without torching the rear brakes, and also stage your 'Stang and launch with consistency.

Horse Sense: We're back on track (pun intended) with our '02 Mustang GT. On track in the sense that from our Dec. '08 issue to this April '09 edition of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords, we've been able to bring you three stories on the project's progress ("Letter-Perfect Power," Dec. '08; "Air Traffic Controlled," Jan. '09; and this report) without taking a full production year or better to do so. With this article, we're literally on track with the New Edge, as we finally get it out to the dragstrip for its long-awaited quarter-mile evaluation. A good thing comes to a very good end indeed.

Modern-day Mustangs-we'll say Ponies of '79-'93 vintage (and with this being the 30th year since the emergence of the Fox body, calling those cars modern is a stretch)through S197s of today-are like chameleons in many respects. Depending on an enthusiast's desires and, of course, budget, 'Stangs can be configured or adapted for use in a wide variety of high-performance (street, dragstrip, road racing, and so on) or show/display applications, similar to the way a chameleon changes its color and adapts itself to nearly any environment or situation with relative ease.

While street car (registered; insured; retaining most creature comforts, such as power steering, air conditioning, heat, stereo, and so on; and capable of being driven regularly without major drivetrain or suspension issues) is the universally accepted starting point and constant for most Mustangs that we focus on, we know that many of you either own or desire Ponies that go beyond simple streeters and are capable of holding their own in whichever alternative driving arena you choose.

Right now-and for a long time-the dragstrip and the chassis dyno have been the hands-down winners in the performance category. What it runs (e.t. and mph) and what it makes on the dyno (rear-wheel horsepower) are the two hot buzz questions we're always asked by readers who follow our 'Stang projects.

Dyno figures and making big steam (our new slang for lots of power) are usually the highlight of our bolt-on efforts. However, we also like to get 'Stangs to the track whenever possible, simply because we realize that running a Mustang on the quarter-mile is probably one of the most important and-to most hard-core 'Stang aficionados-official litmus tests for evaluating a Pony's performance progress as the car transitions from bone-stock to whatever levels of radical its owner desires.

We're installing this trick brake-control system (line-lock) made specifically for '99-'04 Mustangs from SLP Performance Parts (PN M25000; $159.95). Check out the prebent hard line that runs between the master cylinder and the heavy-duty solenoid, which is the heart and soul of the device. Everything you need for a trouble-free, bolt-in installation is included with this kit, which can be installed using just a few basic handtools.

The last two reports on our supercharged Two-Valve effort focus on B&D Racing's man with the laptop Brian Schapiro's efforts to tune the GT's D.S.S. SuperMOD 4.6 and ProCharger F-1A combination for power, and more importantly, good street manners. Remember, it's Crystal Jones who pilots the Mustang on a daily basis, not KJ, so making our unconventional race-blower/Two-Valve/street-car application easy to drive and as issue-free as possible is of utmost importance.

With Brian's pump-gas (91-octane) SCT tune all dialed-in and producing 535 hp at the rear tires with a relatively conservative (for an F-1A) 15 psi of boost, it's time to take the project car to the 1,320-foot proving grounds to see what it will run. However, before doing that, we decided to upgrade our supercharged street 'Stang with a few cool parts that we hope will help make it easier to run and more consistent at the dragstrip.

We're definitely suckers for the little touches that 'Stangbangers take the time to engineer into their projects. While turbochargers, superchargers, and multiple-stage nitrous systems usually are the stars of the modded Mustang show, unseen aftermarket performance accessories are also high on the props list, especially when they're effective and make a significant contribution to the greater good, otherwise known as covering the quarter-mile as quickly as possible.

Take away the built engine and the sinister scream of the ProCharger residing under the project GT's hood, and the Mustang falls right in place with so many other 'Stangs like Crystal's. They roll on deep-dish, 17-inch Bullitt wheels and fat tires at all four corners, and include not much more than billet body accents, similarly treated interiors (with gauge pods and Auto Meter instruments), and other basic pieces that give unassuming Brand-X jockeys a first-glance impression that the 'Stang they're sizing up will have a hard time running 14s, let alone anything quicker.

With this installation project, we're adding launch-assisting pieces from SLP, Hurst, MSD, Eaton, Strange Engineering, and Nitto. Those of you reading this report will know the deal, as will enthusiasts who are sharp enough to spot the additions under the hood or happen to look inside the car and see the pistol-grip shift handle (once it's in place).

The following photos and captions detail the project Mustang's new sneaky stuff, as well as the Pony's long-anticipated showing on the dragstrip. Although our job was done with the help of Saul "The Surgeon" Gutierrez of Extreme Automotive and Daryl Lashmet of B&D Racing (who handled the rearend upgrade), everything we've added can be installed by mechanically adept do-it-yourself enthusiasts in the friendly surroundings of their home garage.

This photo shows the difference between the factory brake line that runs between the master cylinder and proportioning valve and SLP's prebent master-to-solenoid line. SLP's line follows the same curvature as the stocker, but includes extra tubing, which compensates for the addition of a solenoid in the brake-line system and allows the line to be connected to the master cylinder without modifying or moving anything.

Bending brake lines for a perfect fit is arguably the toughest part of installing a line-lock device in a 'Stang, and the difficulty is doubled when you're working in the tight confines of a New Edge car. It's cool to see that SLP has thought this problem through and provided pieces to eliminate this tough task and make this installation easy.

If we weren't talking about it in this report, you wouldn't know SLP's Mustang line-lock is even in place on our project '02 Pony-until you saw the car standing stone-still in the burnout box with the rear tires blazing up a storm. Bleeding the brakes, then tapping into a hot power source and setting up activation switches are all that's left once the lines and solenoid are secured. We'll talk about that elsewhere in this story.

Hurst's Billet/Plus Competition shifter (PN 391 5035; $226.26) and pistol-grip shifter handle with momentary button (PN 1536200; $83.96) make up the second weapon in our GT's arsenal of undercover upgrades. This billet shifter (for Mustangs equipped with Tremec 3650 five-speed transmissions) is designed to shorten the throw between gears by 30 percent, which can definitely help quicken e.t.'s. While the shifter accepts the factory shifter boot and knob-which will leave curious challengers (or anybody else who looks inside the 'Stang) clueless as to what's going on down below when the car is in street mode-we're setting the pistol-grip up with connector plugs for a quick-and-easy swap when it's race time.

After removing the shifter boot and dust cover, then unbolting the shifter that was in the GT prior to this exercise and scraping away the Ultra Gray adhesive that was used to secure the original stick, Saul applies a fresh bead of silicone to the shifter housing before setting in place our new Hurst piece.

Our Hurst Billet/Plus gear selector fits squarely in place on the tranny (the ball on the bottom of the stick must be properly seated before securing the shifter). Hurst recommends tightening the included hardware with 15-20 lb-ft of torque. With this step completed, we move on to installing the third component in our stealth 'strip package.

MSD's Launch Master (2Step) for modular Fords (PN 8734; $221.40) is next. We're using this device with hopes that it brings consistency to our GT's launch, and, through trial and error, helps improve its 60-foot times as well. Incorporating the plug-and-play 2Step system in the sneaky scheme will allow us to make launch-rev adjustments (in 100- and 1,000-rpm increments) according to track conditions, the type of wheels and tires that are on the car, suspension settings, and more.

The 2Step is designed for coil-on-plug ignitions, and it features a main wiring harness that drops right on top of our project 'Stang's 4.6 and blends right in with the factory wiring. The system is completely plug-and-play and can be activated through a ground or a 12-volt signal.

The 2Step control can be mounted just about anywhere in the engine compartment and in any position. However, it's important to install the module in a place that yields easy access to the rotary dials so accurate rpm adjustments can be made. Our friend, Marc Rubin, suggested we mount the 2Step module on the passenger-side strut tower (so much for secrets), where it's easily camouflaged by the two connectors and wiring for the coils' signal (tan) and power (red).

Wires for the passenger-side-mounted module are routed below the core-support cover and across the radiator. We installed ballasts for our Mustang's HID headlights in the same location for the same reason: Nobody will know they're there.

The launch package (line-lock, 2Step, and pistol-grip shift handle) comes together on the bench first, where Saul brings wiring for the SLP and MSD pieces into two micro toggle switches that he installs in the shifter bezel, right next to the cigarette lighter/power port. The switches arm both devices, and they are linked into the momentary switch in the shifter handle, which is wired to work when the system is grounded. With our combination set up this way, we're able to turn on, use, and turn off either or both devices separately or at the same time before making a run, all through the single button on the shifter.

Here's a look at the project Pony's engine compartment with all of the electronic trickery in place. We left the wires away from the front of the 2Step for this photo. When the connectors are in position, you don't know it's there.

On The DragStrip
Our drastrip testing was done at the Pacific Street Car Association's '08 World Finals, which was held at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California. We entered the ProCharged '02 Mustang GT in PSCA's new Mustangs-only class. Over the course of two days, we made runs and subsequently changes to the rpm settings in the MSD 2Step-air pressure in the tires, shift points (for consistency with shifting, all gear changes were made as quickly as possible in speed-shift fashion and not power shifts), and more-to see how well the street-driven Pony would cover the quarter-mile in its every-day, as-is configuration (Eibach/Tokico lowering springs and coilovers, stock rear upper/lower control arms, big wheels all around, full interior and power everything, and a full trunk) on the dragstrip.

After changing the shift knob to the Hurst pistol-grip handle, the line-lock/2Step/button system worked flawlessly. Burnouts were long, smoky crowd-pleasers that didn't incinerate the rear brakes, and launch rpm never went beyond the limit that was set before a run. We tried several rpm settings during our test, with 3,300 proving to be the best for 60-foot e.t (1.860) and 3,200 garnering the best e.t. and mph for the quarter-mile (12.472/119.10).

It's important to understand that the timeslip data represents the results of runs that were made on different days (Saturday qualifying, Sunday eliminations) under different weather and track conditions (beautiful Saturday, cold and windy on Sunday), which we're sure had a sizeable effect on the Mustang's showing at the drags.

These are the three flavors of shift knob that we'll be using: stock (left), Hurst's pistol-grip with momentary switch (center), and Hurst's new Sidewinder (PN 1630052; $76.08), a ball-style knob that also has a momentary switch incorporated in its case. Quick-connector plugs are used to route power, and facilitate fast and simple changes between the stock handle and either of two shift knobs that trigger our launch equipment.

As we said earlier in this report, the parts we installed are designed to help improve these areas and make the car more consistent. However, gaining consistency can only be done through testing and experimenting with various 2Step settings, pressure, and overall driving.

We're extremely pleased with the GT's showing. While we didn't record an 11-second timeslip, the data shows that the F-1As boost and SuperMOD 4.6's power combined to carry our 3,758-pound (with driver) project car to the other side with speed (119.10 mph) that represents low 11-second e.t.'s. Significant improvement (low 11s or maybe even something in the 10s) will be achieved with a suspension upgrade for improved traction, higher shift points (the transmission was shifted at 6,300 rpm on the best run), lightening the car and driver, and, of course, with lighter wheels and slicks. However, based on what we learned in this as-is evaluation of a daily driven, chick-owned, Two-Valve sleeper, we're pretty confident Crystal's Mustang will more than hold its own in minor skirmishes with stock Cobras, and mildly modified Snakes as well.

Run 1 Run 2 Run 3
R/T: 0.{{{240}}} R/T: 0.229 R/T: 0.395
60-foot: 1.860 60-foot: 2.047 60-foot: 2.108
330: 5.324 330: 5.607 330: 5.550
1/8: 8.111 1/8: 8.396 1/8: 8.275
MPH: 88.160 MPH: {{{90}}}.700 MPH: 92.540
1,000: 10.506 1,000: 10.744 1,000: 10.557
1/4: 12.483 1/4: 12.686 1/4: 12.472
MPH: 114.930 MPH: 116.{{{900}}} MPH: 119.{{{100}}}

At the suggestion of tuner Brian Schapiro of B&D Racing, we used VP Racing Fuels' Street Blaze 100 100-octane unleaded gas for our dragstrip tests. While we didn't change the PCM's tune, having the extra octane (versus the lame 91 octane of California's pump gas) is insurance against detonation and engine damage when pushing the car hard.

We learned online and through firsthand experience of track testing that air pressure is critical to racing with drag radials. Moroso's slick digital Pro Series tire-pressure gauge (PN 89562) was used to ensure pressure in the Nittos was precisely what we wanted for every run (optimum pressures ranged between 12.5 and 14 psi during our tests). Unbeknownst to anyone else, behind the deep-dish Bullitts, the GT's 8.8 rear has been fortified with Strange Engineering's S/S Series 31-spline axles (PN 3111; $249.50) and a Detroit True Trac locking differential with Motive Gear's 3.90 ring and pinion kit. The beefy C-clip axles are fully compliant with a New Edge 'Stang's factory rear brakes and parking brake, and we set up ours with stock-length lugs so everything looks normal when the wheels are mounted.

A quick note on safety: This collection of miscellaneous items was found in the back seat of the project Mustang after they flew out of the small, netted cargo holder in the headliner during a hard launch. Make sure this area is clear of such projectiles when you take your New Edge Pony to the track. Flying items in the cockpit are not only a distraction, they're dangerous!

The purpose of our track outing was more for experimentation than competition. However, we entered the Pacific Street Car Association's Mustang Maddness class (a Mustangs-only, Open Comp-format category sponsored by Ford Racing) with hidden hopes that the racing upgrades would help carry our street sleeper to a final round, or maybe even a win in its first outing. While there was no such Cinderella ending (Justin Keller ended our day in round two), we did learn quite a bit about the power that the Two-Valve/F-1A race blower combination makes, and how to finesse that power for better performance on drag radials by slipping the clutch and finding the sweet spot for launch rpm and tire pressure.