Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
August 25, 2003

After spending three years in Factory Stock, infamous NMRA racer Uncle Robin Lawrence decided to climb the next rung of the class ladder and turn his seasoned Factory Stock red notch into a Real Street machine. It wasn't an easy decision for Robin. His years in Factory Stock were an education, but his combination was often a tick behind, keeping the F/S championship just beyond his reach. Factory Stock not only honed his earlier skills, but it also helped Robin learn new ones--enough so that he felt ready for more.

The Real Street class has become quite popular, and Editor Turner predicts there will be a full field running in one of the NMRA's events this season. While the class has grown beyond the scope of the original plan (give a racer a rule book and he'll work every angle), the original concept was something Robin liked right at the start, even though he wasn't able to immediately move into the class. With streetable combinations and off-the-shelf parts mandated by the rules, the Real Street class was something Robin could easily relate to from his years of street tuning and building projects for other people. He already feels at home in the class. And few people recall Robin once fielded a nine-second, turbocharged racer that would have fit in the old days of Outlaw.

Horse Sense: As do many racers, Robin was waiting on new parts and throwing his new car together just a week before the NMRA season opener at Bradenton Motorsports Park. When we saw him a few days before the event, he had yet to scale the car and was looking to rent the local eighth-mile track for some testing. He must be on to something with his new combination--at Bradenton he was the number-two qualifier in Real Street and finished runner-up.

While Real Street may not be Outlaw or Renegade, it does have a unique rule set that differs significantly from the Factory Stock program Robin was used to running. Tubular K-members, coilover suspension, power adders, slicks (instead of drag radials), and more horsepower and lower e.t.'s (so everything happens faster inside the car as well) meant Robin had to start from scratch. Using his Factory Stock red notch, he went to work converting suspension, brakes, and more to ready the chassis for a new Real Street-spec'd engine. We received a lot of good feedback from Robin's article on building a Factory Stock engine ("Taking Stock," Sept. '02, p. 157), so when he came to us inquiring about the same concept for his new Real Street engine, we gave the thumbs up for him to get to work.

The buildup of Robin's new engine for Real Street is in the following captions and sidebars. Unlike last year's Factory Stock engine, he actually had this one in the car for the Bradenton opener, just as he promised.

138_0308_18z Ford_mustang_coupe Right_front_view
One week before Robin leaves for Bradenton, the engine is shown hereafter it was moved from Don West's dyno facility to Craig Baldwin'sshop. The car is still wearing F/S front and rear suspension at thispoint, along with the factory K-member.
138_0308_01z Ford_mustang Block
One of the first decisions to be made on Robin's engine program was whatblock to run. The major players included the Ford Racing PerformanceParts R302, the FRPP Sportsman, a Dart Machinery block, and, of course,a stock 5.0 casting. The R302 and Dart products are heavier than thestock or Sportsman block. In all the stock-block failures Robin haswitnessed, the problem has been in the main webbing of the block. Thisled Robin to choose the Sportsman block. He believes that with itslighter weight than other aftermarket offerings, yet beefier main websthan a stock-block, it's adequate for Real Street power levels. Here,the Sportsman block is being machined. Robin has the Car Shop stick thepiston out of the hole in his R/S engine combo. FRPP doesn't leave muchmaterial to machine on the decks, so Robin advises watching the pinheight.
138_0308_02z Ford_mustang Crank_shaft
Robin chose to stay with a 4340 forged-steel crankshaft from ScatEnterprises as used in his Factory Stock program. Initially he will usethe standard (read: heavy) crankshaft. While many people have theircrankshafts lightened, with the Bradenton NMRA opener looming, Robincouldn't afford the time. He will install one of Scat's lightercrankshafts when they become available. For now, he has installed thestandard crank as-is after Car Shop balanced it.

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