Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
April 10, 2014

Steeda Stampede

In years past, attendees were hesitant to leave the Steeda campus to attend other events. As such, Steeda decided to make its annual Stampede—a car show/open house/dyno day—into a full-day celebration. It sounded like a good plan to us, so we hopped in Project Vapor Trail and cruised down to South Florida to take in the event.

Rather than acting as a precursor to another activity, the Stampede provided a day for South Florida Mustang enthusiasts to hang out and learn about Steeda's wares. Even Editor Turner's PVT braved tickets from the highway patrol to attend.

While this new format got off to a bit of a rocky start due to some morning rain, the weather wasn’t enough to chase off hundreds of Mustang enthusiasts. Fortunately, the weather cleared and attendees were able take in tech seminars from Steeda main man, Dario Orlando, peruse scratch and dent deals in Frank’s Garage, and enjoy lunch while being entertained by a DJ.

We had a great time getting to check out the cars and chat with the Mustang fans in attendance. If it sounds like a good time to you too, the company will be doing it again this year. Stay tuned to its web site ( and social outlets for an announcement of the 2014 Stampede date.

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When it comes to endurance racing, there is no greater event in the United States than the Rolex 24 at Daytona. And for many years, the dominant team in U.S. long-distance sports car racing has been Chip Ganassi Racing, which has championed the Grand Am/IMSA Daytona Prototype class the last four years straight.

Ford’s main partner in IMSA’s Tudor Sports Car Series is Chip Ganassi Racing, which fields two of these Riley-chassis’d mid-engine prototypes. The preeminent prototype team, Ganassi’s 2014 effort features an impressively strong and deep driver line-up. One of these is the crafty, demon-fast Scott Pruett, who started his career with Ford in Trans Am, and includes Indy 500 winner Tony Kannan among others.

Now Ganassi has teamed with Ford for their engines. Dearborn is eager to highlight its EcoBoost technology via a surprisingly stock, yet 650hp, 3.5 EcoBoost V-6 as more commonly sold in the Taurus SHO, Explorer Sport, and F-150 pickups. We were able to get an insider’s tour of the 3.5 EcoBoost racing program during The Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the race’s official test session held in surprisingly chilly weather immediately just after New Year’s.

Just as surprising is how many stock parts carryover from the production 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 to the race version built by Robert Yates Racing Engines for Ganassi. Depending on who’s talking, somewhere between 65 to 75 percent of the race engine is stock Ford production parts, an amazing figure for a pro-race engine. These parts include the block, cylinder heads, and the majority of the valvetrain. Many of the parts changed for racing are different not because they are inadequate to the job, but rather for packaging in a mid-engine race car. These include the front cover, which incorporates engine mounting ears in the Riley-sourced Daytona Prototype chassis Ganassi runs, and the valve covers, which can be more compact because they no longer need to house the variable cam timing gear because it is banned by IMSA.

Other parts are changed for weight savings, including the billet crankshaft, which saves 6 pounds of rotating mass. Changes mainly for power or durability include dry-sump oiling, the stock sized but upgraded exhaust valves, the hand-fabbed, Inconel exhaust manifolds, the custom composite intake manifold, and, as expected, the significantly larger Borg-Warner EFR turbochargers. The engines are choked by IMSA-spec restrictors, turn 7,500 rpm, run Bosch engine management and are integrated into the car’s traction control system via fuel intervention.

A unique long-runner intake manifold has proven especially beneficial to the 3.5-liter EcoBoost Daytona Prototype engine due to the relatively low 11.5 pounds of boost. It features a pair of large, tapered, curved plenums atop tall runners.

All told, the Daytona Prototype EcoBoost engine is an impressive showcase of the power and durability of the 3.5-liter V-6. Our visit was early in the program—the Daytona test marked just the third time the engine had powered a car—and neither Ganassai, Ford, or Michael Shank Racing—which is also running the Roush-Yates EcoBoost 3.5 with Ford’s blessing—had hard data on how much fuel the new engine might save over the out-going 5.0-liter.

All said the savings were real, but it might end up a wash. The 3.5 is about 100 horsepower more powerful than the 5.0, so whatever savings realized by the smaller displacement engine might likely be consumed developing the extra power. This will be an interesting angle to monitor as IMSA’s Tudor Sports Car Series works its way through its varied schedule.

From the marathon 24 hour slog at Daytona, to the rough Sebring 12 hour and various street and road course races, the Tudor series promises a strong test of the largest of EcoBoost engines.—Tom Wilson

5.0 Feedback

Stripped Down

I prefer the stripped-down, all-go version of cars. I want to be completely disconnected from the world when I’m behind the wheel banging through the gears. The only exception for me is digital music. As much as I too get nostalgic when I think back to slamming the huge eight-track tapes into the dash, the media music gets better and smaller with each passing generation. 

I don’t need to tweet, text, compute, or whatever. The rumble and screams of the engine are enough stimulation for me with Sammy Hagar yelling in the background. My Shelby was bought off the showroom floor, so I didn’t pick the options, but it only has two: HID headlamps and a Shaker 1000. If I could’ve ordered it any way I wanted in a perfect world, I would’ve left off the Shaker, SYNC, air conditioning, power windows, and power seat. I wouldn’t want launch control either, or my own in-dash dragstrip. But that’s just me. Don’t even get me started on paddle shifters...

Dale Carriker
West Caldwell, NJ

Thanks for writing in, Dale. To each his own, they say. You are going to be hard pressed to find a modern car with roll-up windows and manual locks, but you were able to shed a lot of options on your ride. That’s the beauty of making such tech optional.

He Likes It

In reply to your Bench Racer question of what we thought of the new Mustang. I like it. I’m glad it still looks like a Mustang. I was afraid it was going to be too Euro, but it looks good. I wouldn’t sell my ’06 GT for one but it’s a good transition into the next 10 years. I am waiting to see what the Cobra will look like. By the way, I subscribed to two other Mustang mags in the past, but enjoy yours the most, so now I only get one. My favorite articles are the ones related to road racing.

John Musial
Via email

It seems the latest Mustang is a polarizing figure for most enthusiasts. Some love it, and some hate it. We tend to believe that the haters will mellow over time. Clearly the S550 has European aspirations, but it seems like a great first step toward taking the beloved pony car in a more modern direction. Oh, and thanks for buying into what we are doing around here. We appreciate the support.

Full Coverage

Great viewpoint and comprehensive coverage of the birth of the S550! It beats Car and Driver’s and Motor Trend’s paltry efforts hands down. Are they GM shills?

Since you asked, I was in love with the ’15 Mustang before I even saw it. I was in Dearborn for the Mustang Memories show in 2012 and visited the test track, SVT shop and Flat Rock assembly plant. I could sense the enthusiasm the engineers and designers had for the project way back then. I knew Ford would unveil a truly world-class sports car with global appeal. When I first saw the Mustang on Good Morning, America, with Mr. Mulally bursting with pride, I was completely awed. I can hardly wait to see the cars in person in April at Charlotte. I heard that test drives might be available!

I have already called my dealer to let him know I will be placing my order for a Ruby Red one in the fall.

Art Kelly
Birmingham, AL

Thanks for the kind words regarding our coverage, Art. We’d have loved to provide even more detail, but it seemed as though some aspects of the car were still being finalized at the time of our visit. Ford had us from the moment they said that beating the Boss 302 around the race track was the goal for the S550. Knowing how good the Boss was, means this car should be a serious performer. The car is definitely better in person, so enjoy checking it out at the MCA 50th anniversary show. We’ll be there too.

Not A Fan

It’s a sad day in the Mustang community in my view of the latest addition to Ford. I would consider myself a huge fan of the Mustang and the longevity of years it’s survived and looking at its evolution, but all good things must unfortunately come to an end.

I own a ’93 GT that I’ve had since 2005; it had 36,000 original miles on it when I bought it. This past year I added an ’09 V-6 convertible to my stable, and both cars are my favorite because you can see evolution from past Mustangs in them. Well, you can see it in the ’09; the Fox not so much.

I have to admit I am certainly not a fan of the ’15 Ford Mustang/Fusion. It’s sad to see a great line of cars come to an end, but I just cannot get over the fact that they just took a Fusion and slapped a running horse on the front and called it a Mustang. This new Mustang will never find its way into my driveway. I’d sooner drive a Bow Tie than this car.

Tim Handy
Macomb, MI

We’re sorry that you don’t approve of the ’15 Mustang styling, Tim. You are certainly not alone in having a negative first impression of the car. Keep in mind that Ford tends to refresh its cars every couple of years, so you might like the next iteration better. Even if you don’t the good news is you have 50 years of previous Mustangs at your disposal. There’s no need to hastily move to Brand X.

Short Times

Our own Senior Tech Editor KJ Jones took home two prestigious awards this past January: the NMCA West Ambassador of the Year award and the MPMC Robert E. Petersen Media Award. Both awards recognized KJ’s ongoing contributions to the world of motorsports, and we couldn’t be more proud of him. Congratulations!... 5.0&SF feature car alum, the Mothers Polish RTR Spec 3 sold for $110,000 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. The entire proceeds of the auction benefit the TGen Foundation, which funds research to cure myriad ailments, including autism, brain tumors, diabetes, melanoma, and pancreatic cancer... Sam Pack, a Ford dealer from Texas, purchased the rights to the first retail ’15 Mustang for $300,000 at the Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona. The proceeds of the auction benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.