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Up Close & Personal With Brian Wolfe - Right Man For The Job - Brian Wolfe Interview
For Former Mustang Drag Racer Brian Wolfe, Doing The Right Things At The Right Places At The Right Times Led Him To His New Pos
MM: You started drag racing the Fairlane, right?
Wolfe: Yeah, I had it at the drag strip when I'd had my driver's license a week. I was thinking it was going to be fast with a 428 Cobra Jet, 4.56 gear, and B&M transmission. I thought it was going to run 12s. I think the car went 14.60. That was the first awakening of what it took to have a 12-second car. I think the car eventually went 12.80, maybe 12.70 at 108 mph. Like I've always told people, I could never figure out how to make carburetors work well. Then I bought the Mustang brand-new in 1986. I remember I bought it at the end of the 1986 model year when the '87s were coming out because it had a good rebate on it. I had owned the car around three years when I put the GT-40 heads and intake and 9-inch rearend in it.
MM: How did you get involved with Ford Motorsport?
Wolfe: I was working on the car and a guy I worked with, Wally Beeber, was in the 5.0-liter engine group. I told him about my Mustang and he told me he had just sent some GT-40 heads and intakes over to Ford Motorsport because they weren't going to be putting them into production. He said Ford Motorsport was going to see if they could sell them in the catalog. So Wally introduced me to Hank Dertian, an engineer at Ford Motorsport, and he said, "Let's put them on your car to see what they'll do." The first day out, it went either 12.40 or 12.50. The best my CJ Fairlane ever went was 12.80. I was thinking, "This is way too easy." That same combination, after tweaking and calibrating, ended up going 11.66 at 115. That was the article you did on the car in the January 1990 issue of Super Ford.
MM:Then all of a sudden you were involved in this movement that became known as Pro 5.0.
Wolfe: At that time, it was really cool because it was like reliving the history of drag racing. We got to where we were running 11s and that was really fast. Then 10s, then nines. And other people were doing the same thing, whether it was Stormin' Norman Gray, Gene Deputy, Joe DaSilva, Jimmy Larocca, or Nitrous Pete. And then you had promoters like Fun Ford Weekend who gave us a place to take the show. And like anything that's a heads-ups sport, it starts to get more and more aggressive. Now the cars are going sixes with Pro Stock bodies. Of course, it's the modular motor now, but that's the evolution.
MM: It's interesting that the evolution was also taking place on the parts side. All of a sudden the 5.0 Mustang was the '57 Chevy of the 1990s.
Wolfe:I don't know how many times I've heard, "I used to be a Chevy guy but the Mustang was so cool and so inexpensive I had to buy one. Then I started to modify it, and then I had to buy an F150 so I could tow it to the drag strip. Then I bought my wife a Taurus." That's just a summary of how the whole thing is supposed to work. As a performance enthusiast, I was only looking at the racing side and having fun doing it. From the corporate side, you saw a story of people switching their alliances, getting them to buy Ford cars and recommend them to friends. But back then, I wasn't putting two and two together.