Evan J. Smith
Mustang360 Network Content Director
February 2, 2012
Contributers: Marc Christ Photos By: Marc Christ

Mustang. It screams performance, whether you're looking for a V-6, GT, Boss or the new 650hp GT500. Ford also builds turn-key racer cars, both for drag racing and road racing. And these cars win!

And this winning comes as a direct result of the hard work, passion and dedication of the Ford Racing engineering and development team. Recently, we caught up with them at a private track test of the latest Cobra jet Mustangs.

When we were asked to join in on a test session of the yet-to-be-released 2013 Cobra Jet, we jumped at the chance. Ford Racing invited us to accompany its Cobra Jet development team for a research and development test session--and to drive the mighty machines. We were able to work with the engineers as they put the mechanical and electrical finishing touches on what will undoubtedly be the greatest Cobra Jets ever.

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The team--consisting of skilled technicians, suspension experts, engineers, calibration experts, and drivers--had one naturally aspirated 5.0L CJ and one supercharged version (also with a 5.0L). Since it was a development session, the team was ironing out a couple of issues, but spent most of the time testing hardcore race parts like torque converters and rear gear ratios. Not to mention trying to get as many runs as possible on both to quantify its evaluations and to see the effects of various launch rpm, shift points and chassis setup.

In fact, the team even tapped our own Evan Smith to test drive, and Smith whittled the e.t down with some tried and true tricks. While we can't yet publish elapsed times, the crew was very happy with the overall vehicle performance and durability.

"We are here to finalize gear ratios, torque converters, shock setting and a few other things," said Ford Racing's Jesse Kershaw. And the team made run after run, making changes and noting the results. Some stuff worked, while of stuff didn't, but in the end, a lot was learned. Ultimately, after three days of testing, both cars were turning competitive numbers, which will make them perform well in their respective classes.

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A Brief History
Very few manufacturers offer turn-key race cars, and even fewer do it like Ford Motor Company. From the Boss 302R, to the Focus ST-R, and of course the Cobra Jet, no other car manufacturer offers such a wide variety of ready-to-race cars--not even Porsche, BMW, or Ferrari.

And the original turn-key race car that started this lineage was the '68 Cobra Jet. In 1968, 50 units were produced, all modified from production-style Mustangs. In its first appearance ever, the Cobra Jet scored a win at the NHRA Winternationals. Though the project was a success, it was discontinued after its first year.

Then in 2008, Ford Racing Parts re-released the Cobra Jet to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the original. And like the original, it too won on its first outing--at the 2009 NHRA Winternationals!

The New CJ
Since then, Ford Racing Performance Parts has continued to produce the FR500CJ with a '10 model and a '12 model, and the program has been a huge success. Recently, Ford Racing announced it will build 50 '13 models to be equipped with either a naturally aspirated 5.0L engine ($85,490), or a Whipple supercharged 5.0L engine ($92,990).

The NA version features a special CJ induction system, CNC-ported heads, high-lift camshafts, and a low-drag accessory drive. The supercharged version houses a 2.9L Ford Racing/Whipple supercharger utilizing a 10-rib belt, CNC-ported heads, and a port-matched manifold. All versions are comprised of a lightened body optimized for weight distribution, EPAS, an optimized rollcage, Recaro seats, and many other features. Stay tuned for more exclusive information on the Ford Racing CJ program and more exciting news from Ford and elsewhere in the Mustang hobby.

For more information, call 800/367-3788 or go to www.fordracingparts.com/cobrajet.

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