Steeda S550 Race Car 001
Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
April 5, 2017
Photos By: Courtesy of Steeda

It was a great weekend for the Steeda racing team as they hit Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR) on March 10 and 11, 2017 for the Bud Merrill Memorial Double SARRC ECR Challenge. Drivers Dario Orlando and Glen Vitale, wheeling Steeda’s yellow and black #20 2017 Ford Mustang Q500R, nearly swept the weekend, taking two wins and a second place finish in the triple-race, Bud Memorial Double SARRC ECR Challenge. The event included two 20-minute sprint races and a 1.5-hour Enduro that included refueling and a driver change.

Orlando, who drove both sprint races, qualified its Q500R on the pole in both twin South Atlantic Road Race Championships events. Admittedly rusty, he struggled at the start of the first race and spun on the second lap—but despite having not competed in over two years, he gathered the Mustang and fought his way back to grab a second-place podium finish. “It was great to get back in competition,” said Orlando. “We’ve worked diligently to produce a Mustang with greatly enhanced handling performance, but one that’s easy to drive at the limit. Our Q-series Mustangs are balanced and do well on the street or the track. In fact, one of the reasons we race is to show enthusiasts they can have the very best parts whether they drive on the street or track,” Orlando added.

The second sprint race saw Orlando getting his groove back, so to speak, as he started off great and was able to hold off a vicious challenge from the number 52 BMW, maintaining his lead and taking the victory. “It was a challenge staying ahead of the supercharged M3,” stated Orlando, “However, the Steeda Mustang prevailed and it was really exciting to take a win. Our Q500R utilizes a tuned 5.0L Coyote engine, a stock transmission and our full Steeda G-Trac suspension, with Pro Action adjustable shocks. It’s stuff you can buy and adapt easily to any S550 Mustang. This system really enhances performance and we offer a few levels depending on your demands.”

The team concluded the weekend running the 1.5-hour ECR Enduro, where Orlando took his third pole of the weekend. SCCA regular and Steeda team driver, Glen Vitale, took the first stint behind the wheel, making the most of Orlando’s P1 starting position. Vitale jetted to the lead, poured the coals to the Steeda Q500R and never looked back. He led the race until half way, when he pitted for fuel and a driver change, handing the reigns to Orlando. With 30 minutes to go, Orlando got back in the mix and held off the field for a true flag-to-flag victory.

“It was an amazing race weekend for our team,” said Orlando. “The car performed well, the only glitch was a wiped stock clutch during the end of the last race. We plan to upgrade to an Exedy clutch and we’ll be back to the track. We use this car to develop new Steeda parts, so we’re always pushing and learning. And we can’t want to get back, take a look at the Mustang and then do our job making the best parts for our customers.”