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Race-Prepped Steeda Ford Mustangs - Angry Ponies
Lapping at speed in three race-prepped Steeda Mustangs.
Driving Steeda's No. 20
Straight away, the No 20 is a different breed of racecar. Not bound by rules, Steeda's Pony was far more radical in terms of engine and suspension. There's no minimum weight to meet, nor is there stingy engine and suspension rules, or a limit on tires and brakes. And with that Steeda assembled a 650hp supercharged and intercooled Three-Valve, plus the Stang sports racy hardware like the fabbed NASCAR-style dash, superlight steering column, and massive brakes.
I was anxious to get it on, but first Steeda's crew helped me get adjusted to the seat, the belts, and the controls. Once fitted I rolled to the grid and pulled tight on the belts.
"We wanted you to experience a full race-level suspension that is completely streetable," said Orlando. "[This car] creates a world-class package that can compete with supercars, but with a change in suspension bushing type, is fine for the street," he added.
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The full-race components he technically refers to are the end links in the suspension and the spring rates. "The top-level stuff is really for a niche group, those who don't mind a bit of NVH but want the best in handling," explained Orlando.
Having turned laps in the A/S Mustangs I was cautiously nervous because of the additional 250 horsepower, but the car was so balanced that it was easy to drive. With the tires and brakes warmed up I experimented with late-braking and aggressive turn-in, and quicker throttle application on corner exit. Dario assured me it would be easy to drive—he on point.
The Mustang was so balanced and neutral that it was a breeze for me to drive. The raw cockpit transmitted those wonderful noises of exhaust and wind and I made a great connection with that car. As my confidence built up I found speed with every lap. With only a handful of laps under my belt, I was using throttle to oversteer coming off a few corners, and I could keep the throttle planted amazingly deep into the straights and late-brake to get slowed in time to make a smooth corner entry and nail each apex.
"Our Steeda Watt's Link system is fully adjustable and allows you to dial in corner weights for balance. We raised the front roll center on the 20 car (not legal in A/S), there are different techniques for keeping the car balanced. For instance, at Sebring you don't want aggressive shock valving because of the bumps, but you can go stiffer on smoother tracks," Orlando explained.
Steeda's Stang was spot on with power and grip and best of all it was predictable. It was a great car for Sebring because it had seemingly unlimited braking and grip for the technical sections, and great power to get me hauling down the straights, where my estimated speed approached 170 mph.
Needless to say, I had a great weekend. Ultimately, I would have like more seat time in each car, but who am I to complain. I basked in the thrill of yet another Track Guys Performance Driving event at Sebring and I can't wait to return in 2013. Rotating through three totally different racecars is a challenge, but I enjoyed the experience and soaked up the fun like a sponge.