K.J. Jones
April 8, 2006
What more can we say? Dart Machinery (248) 362-1188; www.dartheads.com, with its Iron Eagle line of 302 and 351W race blocks (8.2-, 8.7-, and 9.5-inch deck heights), has emerged in the last two years as the undisputed leader throughout the entire all-Ford drag-racing scene when it comes to the engine blocks found in almost every class where aftermarket engine blocks are permitted. Iron Eagles are made of superior iron alloy and are available in bore sizes of 4.000 (standard) and 4.125. Each block features five splayed, four-bolt main caps, and 8.2/8.7s have a standard-302/2.249 main-journal diameter and 9.5-deck blocks take a Cleveland/2.749 main bearing. Super-stout cylinder walls support a 0.185 overbore. That kind of durability is exactly what a racer needs to produce max power with a naturally aspirated or power-adder-assisted small-block. It makes no difference whether you're new to the hard-core racing game or an old vet-when it comes to building a powerplant for your 'Stang, Dart has proven to be a winner.

Horse Sense: There currently are two major sanctioning bodies dedicated to hard-core, Ford-only and Mustang drag racing: The National Mustang Racers Association and Fun Ford Weekend series. These groups, as well as several other fastest-street-car/door-slammer-style drag-racing organizations nationwide, are the lifeblood for those who are addicted to racing hard-core, heavy-hitting 'Stangs in various heads-up classes.

Here's the deal: You want to go Mustang racing. You've got a car, you've got a plan and, in a perfect world, you've even got a full-house sponsorship deal and are set up with enough cubic dollars to get you through five seasons of hard-core, heads-up drag racing-let alone one year. You're pumped and you think you're ready to play the game on a serious level. That's great! We should all be so luc... CUT!

Stop the melodramatic music-let's get real here. Our world will probably never be that perfect, especially when it comes to the Sportsman level of racing we're involved with-really, on a grand scale, even Pro 5.0 racers are still sportsmen of sorts. By their own admission, while their cars and equipment are all major-dollar, the spoils-when there are spoils-of racing victories are not paying the bills. Sure, sanctions such as the National Mustang Racers Association and Fun Ford Weekend have grown to become the premiere series for heads-up and bracket-style 'Stang drag racing, but they're still pseudo-professional, since most competitors have day jobs, families, and lifestyles that make it all but impossible to compete on a fulltime, all-I-do-is-race basis.

But the question is, what does it take and what do you need to go racing at this high level? Dedication, time, and the all-important money are the obvious requirements, but they're certainly not the only ones a race program needs. We thought it would be interesting to give current and potential racers and Mustang-racing fans a look at some of the parts, tools, and racing equipment we think are essential for being in the hard-core 'Stang-racing game-from the entry-level, Open Comp classes all the way to Pro 5.0.

We've compiled this broad-ranging synopsis of trick pieces-some common and some not so common-that are offered for today's serious Mustang racer. When we say "serious" Mustang racer, we're not ranking one type of racer over another. We're simply referring to the guys and ladies who battle for glory on the NMRA, FFW, or other heads-up circuits each season, from the entry-level classes to the pro categories. Our selections were based on many of the products we hear about or see at industry trade shows, in the manufacturers' midway at race events, on Mustang enthusiasts' Web sites, and from conversations with hard-core racers themselves.

Contrary to widespread belief, not all hard-core race Mustangs are run with fuel injection. These two carburetors by Barry Grant (706) 864-8544; www.barrygrant.com-the 750-cfm Race Demon DR (drag race) shown here and the 1050-cfm King Demon DR pictured below-are two examples of the parts you need if carburetion is more your speed.

Hard-core racers bust their butts and their wallets each year in their quests to get it done. By considering and investing in some of the parts, tools, and racing equipment discussed here, we believe a racer will have an easier go at achieving the main objective, which is, of course, winning! We're not saying one piece carries more importance than another. This is not a ranking, but rather a rundown of what we believe is a variety of some of the true, must-have items for a racing program to gain an edge.

We encourage anyone to make a move into the Mustang-racing madness. And to those already involved, keep up the great work. Hard-core 'Stang racing is hot right now and the action can't be beat. As you take your plunge into this insane world, remember that racing isn't cheap. Establish a solid plan and make good investments in parts and equipment. Hopefully, some or all of the products featured in this rundown will help put you on the right track for success when you go racing at the NMRA/FFW "big-dog" level.

Note: It's important that you consult a sanctioning body's rule book before purchasing some of these parts or any hard-core performance part for your race 'Stang. Never assume that a part deemed legal for one class or organization is going to be accepted by others.

The Race Demon directly replaces 4150-style carbs and is well suited for stroker 302 and 351-based Ford engines, while the King Demon ably fills in for Dominator-style units that are commonplace on the naturally aspirated and nitrous big-block combinations found in Pro 5.0.

Drag-race Mustangs in many of the heads-up classes reach speeds of more than 150 mph and must have serious braking power to help them come to a safe stop. US Brake [(866) 369-2643; www.usbrake.com] offers the right stuff with its new medium-duty front drag kit for '79-'93 Mustangs (PN 7250-0004). This brake system is designed with the hard-core race 'Stang in mind and features billet 6061 aluminum F33i four-piston calipers and 7075 forged-aluminum hubs featuring dual bolt patterns, extended-length studs, lightweight drilled and slotted-steel brake rotors, and SD3 compound drag-racing brake pads. While four-wheel disc brakes are recommended for ultimate braking performance and will make for an overall lightweight brake system, this front-brake kit provides great performance for Mustangs that run in the 9s, even when used with the OEM rear drum brakes.

No, Tech Editor KJ Jones hasn't taken on super-human strength. The 4.6, Two-Valve engine he's lowering into the Fox Mustang's engine bay is one of the many replica engines (PN 3050; note the 5.0 long-block on the ground in front of the car) available through P-Ayr Products [(913) 651-5543; www.payr.com]. We consider these replica blocks, cylinder heads, transmissions, and accessories must-have items for anyone building a race Mustang. Their factory dimensions, but much lighter weight, help save time and take away the pain of installing and removing much heavier, real parts when mocking up a new race car. While we're on the subject of must-have lightweight parts, note Canton's aluminum, 7-quart, drag-race oil pan for 4.6 and 5.4 modulars [PN 13-784A; (203) 481-9460; www.cantonracing.com] attached to the mockup engine. This pan is half the weight of Canton's steel pan, and it features a diamond-shaped, four-door baffle that gives oil no other place to flow than to the pickup, especially under high-rev race conditions. Towers Racing Products [(512) 818-1813; www.towersracing.com] makes the aluminum, Two-Valve cam covers seen in this photo.

When it comes to rear suspension components, the insane racers who jockey mega-horsepower Mustangs on true 10.5 slicks and any-size Drag Radials come to mind, as these racers can benefit the most from using these rear shocks. They're VariShock QuickSet 2, double-adjustable coilover shocks (PN VAS 11211-615) and 150-lb/in rate springs (PN VAS 21-12150). They're nothing but the truth when it comes to easy-to-tune suspension components that are designed to help a traction-challenged 'Stang hook. The shocks feature 256 different settings that can be dialed in by rotating either one or both of the two knobs for "bump"/compression or "rebound"/extension). They're mounted at the base of each shock, and you don't have to remove or even unbolt the shock. The big plus about VariShocks [(800) 722-2269; www.varishock.com] is their repeatability. "It doesn't matter how you set them, soft or hard-they do what you set them to do every time," said one racer we asked about suspension parts. A spanner wrench is necessary for making height adjustments with coilovers. The long-reach unit shown here is made by Fast Intentions [(818) 882-2788]. VariShocks are also available for Mustangs set up for classes that require stock-style shocks.

We're always giving high praise to the way cold-air systems help produce power. In another spin on cool, we think this Heat Sink fuel cooler from Barry Grant [(706) 864-8544; www.barrygrant.com] is a simple but great piece of racing technology derived from the old-school cool cans. Remember, an engine will make great power with a dense air/fuel charge. Cooling the fuel is the other aspect-the seldom-thought-about aspect (again, cold air is the most popular) of the air/fuel equation. Heat Sinks can be plumbed directly inline on any return-style, or non-return-style fuel system and are available with either -8AN (PN 178000) or -10AN (PN 178001) fittings.

No, you're not seeing things-tires are in our collection of must-have items, but we're not talking about slicks, drag radials, or front runners. These new, ST225/75R15 8PR radials (PN DS-2100) from Duro Tire and Wheel [(866) 788-2060; www.durotire.com] are specifically manufactured for your trailer and have a maximum load capacity of 2,450 pounds each. A set of eight-ply, trailer-specific tires is a must for towing your car and equipment to the track and back-and don't forget a spare.

We've seen too many cars being towed on trailers sporting rubber that isn't rated for towing heavy loads, and we've also seen enough fenderless enclosed trailers that are victims of those same inferior tires after they've blown out on the highway. So, having the right stuff is critical. Our selection of Duro is based on tire quality and towing safety, which should never be compromised or overlooked.

More and more, we've noticed that drivers are electing to use quick-release/removable steering wheels in their race cars. Ease of entry and exit is probably one of the reasons the factory wheels are being ditched for the Grant Products Performance GT [(800) 952-6947; www.grantproducts.com] GT 13-inch steering wheel you see here (PN 622). But the cool factor that's inherent with being able to detach the steering wheel after you've returned to the pits is also one of the reasons there's been a boom of removable steering wheels in race Mustangs. This wheel features a smooth-feel, hand-stitched vinyl covering and holes for installing transbrake, nitrous, or any two accessory switches or buttons you can think of. Combine the Performance GT-also available with a bold, yellow top marker to let you know which way is "straight" when you're in a monster wheelstand and all you see is the sky-or any other Grant wheel with this new bolt-in race-'Stang steering column. This replacement for the larger, heavier factory column bolts directly in the factory location and features a manual-rack linkage shaft with Flaming River hardware. The steering-column kit also includes a quick-release/removable hub that easily attaches to any Grant Performance GT steering wheel. The column is available through Wild Bill Hickok Race Cars [(760) 677-9078].

An 11-pound Halon 1301 fire-suppression system (PN ASP-305) such as this SFI-approved, all-inclusive kit by Phoenix [(541) 383-5968; www.phoenixfiresuppression.com] can be one of the most important pieces of equipment on any race car, regardless of class or speed/performance level. FFW's tech requirements mandate a minimum 10-pound system on cars racing in all of its power-adder, heads-up classes. It could be the difference between being badly burned or losing your life or car in a fire or walking away with everything still intact. While serious accidents that include fire are not common in hard-core Mustang drag racing, the potential for such an accident is one of the few negatives that can be associated with the hobby. Your life is too precious and your investment too great not to outfit your race car with a fire-suppression system. Aren't you and your pride-and-joy worth more than the 400 bucks this system costs?

NHRA rules mandate that an enclosure or firewall, better known as a bulkhead, be installed in any hatchback-style car to separate fuel cells and batteries from the cockpit if they're not already secured in their own approved box or boxes. NMRA racer Andy Burnett [(309) 235-2530; andyb2001@mchsi.com] makes this trick, perfect-fit bulkhead for '87-'93 hatchback Mustangs. Made from painted (white, black, yellow, red, blue) or mill-finish 0.040-inch aluminum (NHRA rules require 0.032-inch minimum thickness), Andy's firewalls fit cleanly between the factory interior panels or can be custom ordered to work with most mini-tub setups.

Andy also makes bulkheads for '79-'93 notchbacks. Up front, sealing all the holes in the firewall separating the engine compartment from the cockpit is an important safety measure for any drag-race Mustang. While we aren't sure if Cartech still markets a one-piece, drop-in cover for this area, a filled-in firewall is a project you can take on yourself with a little time, effort, and patience. It provides an extra measure of safety to your race car.

We're starting to hear more about Wild Rides' "S"(tang)-box [(732) 751-1113; www.wildridesracecars.com] being the torque box/rear-upper-control-arm-mount repair or replacement of choice for 'Stang racers. This is one stout structure, comprised of 1/8- and 1/4-inch steel plate and fortified with killer welds throughout. Three mounting holes for the control arms provide a greater range of rear-suspension adjustments and allow for radical changes to a 'Stang's instant center, which affects how hard the tires are hit when the car launches (top equals softer, middle equals stock equivalent, bottom equals harder).

Many sanctions require racers to provide a fuel sample after each run to verify that only the specified racing gas is being used. This super-efficient, fuel-sample valve is a must-have for EFI or carbureted race Mustangs. It taps into the fuel line anywhere in the engine compartment, usually at the fuel-pressure test port/Schrader valve on EFI 'Stangs. With a press of the thumb it opens the line so a fuel sample can be drawn quickly and safely. The fuel-sample valve (PN FSV-18) is available through NHRA Stock Eliminator racer Clark Holroyd [(909) 591-4320]. Our friends at Aeromotive Industries [(913) 647-7300); www.aeromotiveinc.com] also offer a slick, new billet sample valve (PN 15631) that works well.

A race Mustang's weight is always a concern, and racers can take many different routes to lighten their cars or, using racing vernacular, "put the car on a diet." The engine in the Orme brothers' '88 coupe is a great example of how lightweight G-line XF hose by Goodridge [PN Hose 910; www.goodridge.net; (877) 676-3277] can be used as part of a race car's weight-loss program. This stuff is super lightweight when compared with traditional, steel-braided hose. For example, while AN -10 braided fuel line weighs 0.2352 pound per foot, the same size G-Line XF is only 0.1351 pound per foot. With its smooth-bore liner, it has outstanding resistance to pressure and markedly higher flow rates than standard hoses. It's definitely an item to consider when it's time to plumb your 'Stang.

Believe it or not, information or raw data is critical to any drag-race program. Variables such as weather conditions, engine/driveshaft speed, amount of boost, fluid and gas temperatures and pressures, chassis setup, and track all have a direct impact on how well or how poorly a Mustang gets down the track. All these variables should be recorded in some manner before, during, and after each pass. Here are a few data-capturing tools we think stand out, and we strongly believe every racer must have at least one of them.

Here's where it all starts. Keeping thorough, accurate notes in a racing logbook is the simplest and least expensive form of data recording. Logbooks are available from Jegs (www.jegs.com) or Summit (www.summitracing.com), and many sanctions even pay contingency bucks for winning racers who use them. Entry-level Mustang racers should start with a logbook to become familiar with the type of information that's commonly referred to throughout the racing season.

Hard-core Mustang drag racers in all of the quicker, naturally aspirated and power-adder-assisted heads-up categories track a bevy of detailed data points about their cars after each pass, and the full-on data logger helps them do it. After evaluating the DL-32 data logger (PN DL-32) by Innovate Motorsports [(949) 502-8400; www.innovatemotorsports.com], we knew it belonged on our must-have list. This logger works in conjunction with Innovate's wideband O2 meters and definitely does it all. It has 32 channels of data-logging capability (rpm, MAP, vacuum, boost, EGT, acceleration/braking g's, and such) and LogWorks 2.0 analysis software that provides 3D charting and features a sweet math engine. The math engine can be used to create custom tuning programs (EFI and carbureted) because of its ability to determine peak volumetric efficiency at any rpm or load. In other words, LogWorks 2.0 is so bad-ass it can tell you not only what your air/fuel ratios are, but also what they should be. That's big when you look at it from a tuning perspective. In our book, any opportunity to stay away from the lean mixture is a good opportunity.

Auto Meter's [(815) 899-0800; www.autometer.com] Ultimate II Dual-Channel Playback tachometer (PN 6884) is a great example of the next level of data capturing and should be considered by racers competing in classes where clutches and stick transmissions are prevalent, such as NMRA's Pure Street and Real Street, as well as several other classes. The Ultimate II records both engine and driveshaft rpm, which can be replayed directly on the tach immediately after a pass, or downloaded to a laptop, where data can be reviewed in graph form using the Tach-Facts software that's included. The graphing capability of the program allows a racer to highlight any point of elapsed time during any of the four total runs that can be recorded. Detail areas of a graph-such as engine and driveshaft rpm at shift points, driver's shift response, and the top-end rpm as the car passes through the lights-can be isolated and saved to compare with other passes. The Tach-Fact software can process and display graphs of engine and driveshaft rpm together or separately, and the ratio between both, which can be a big help to a racer trying to sort out traction issues or clutch/converter slipping. Engine and driveline information is a big part of a racer's overall data scheme. This tachometer is one of the best parts available for capturing that driveline information.

As confessed tool junkies, it was hard for us to put a cap on the number of products we would include. While we acknowledge there are probably hundreds more worthy tools, this is a sampling of the products we think are among the coolest and most-useful pieces of equipment a racer can have at the track, at the shop, or even in the home garage.

"A cordless impact gun . . . best tool ever made!" Those are the sentiments of Hot Rod magazine's editor, Rob Kinnan, and we concur with his opinion. This gun (PN ET1550) by Snap-On Tools (www.snapon.com) features a half-inch square drive and delivers 240 lb-ft of lug-nut-busting/tightening torque (2,700 blows-per-minute). For racers who swap rear tires from side to side after a few passes, this tool helps make the job a lot quicker and easier on the back.

Mustang racers and race fans have probably either used or heard the term "pinion angle" at some point. This refers to the angle that the rear-end's pinion shaft forms in relation to the ground. Pinion angle is most effective when an imaginary line drawn between the rear axle and a tire's contact patch is at 90 degrees in relation to the pinion shaft. This measurement is best taken when a 'Stang is sitting on its wheels, and the essential tool for finding the right angle is this driveshaft angle gauge (PN POW351032) from Powerhouse Products [(800) 872-7223; www.powerhouseproducts.com]. Pinion angle is crucial to a drag-race Mustang's launch and 60-foot performance. The gauge measures the angle from 0 to 8 degrees positive or negative, and it includes a magnetic mounting base that facilitates attaching it to the rearend housing or driveshaft.

Mr. Gasket Company's [www.mrgasket.com; (888) MR-GASKET, ext. 999] new FluidZap absorbent pads were given rave reviews by racers and shop managers. Made from highly absorbent cellulose core, FluidZaps are available in two sizes: 17x23-inch (PN 3699/sheets) and 18x28-inch (PN 3700/perforated roll). Custom sizes are also available. They're a must for controlling and cleaning up fluid spills in the shop, at the track, or inside the trailer. Each pad can soak up half a quart of oil (at 210 degrees) or other fluid, and it has a polypropylene backing that prevents fluid from leaking through. In our opinion, the tried-and-true shop rag has met its match. FluidZaps are a lot more eco-friendly, as they're 100 percent trash-can disposable. They do a much better job of keeping potential HAZMAT disasters in check when you have an oily or leaky situation with your race car.

Even in the lower-profile classes, just about every hard-core race Mustang in any sanction is packing an extremely sensitive, ragged-edge engine that pumps out a ton of horsepower, with or without a power adder. Checking compression to diagnose the engine's internal health and make sure all eight holes are ready to go another round is often part of a race team's routine between rounds. Powerhouse Products [(800) 872-7223; www.powerhouseproducts.com] offers this long-reach compression tester to make checking the condition of an engine a bit easier. The 0- to 300-psi Big Face (211/42-inch diameter) compression tester features a 16-inch heavy-duty, long-reach flex hose, a side release valve for multiple readings, and 14mm (standard and long-tip lengths), and 18mm spark-plug adapters.

A set of OTC [(800) 533-6127; www.otctools.com] Stinger Easy Roller (PN 1580) wheel dollies gives a race operation an easy, efficient method of moving a disabled or spooled-rear race Mustang or chassis around a shop or the pits. Four Easy Rollers are ideal, but we recommend a minimum of two. Using them is as simple as placing one at each wheel of any vehicle weighing up to 6,000 pounds (four dollies are required for the maximum weight) with tires as wide as 12 inches, then using the foot pedal, as demonstrated in the photo, to activate the unit's hydraulic lift mechanisms. With these dollies, moving a car is easy enough for one person to handle. They're also great at tracks, as they help speed up the removal process for cars that break drivetrain parts and don't make it all the way through the quarter-mile.

How's this for simplifying tools? You're looking at Powerhouse Products' popular, new, adjustable AN wrenches. Race-car plumbing usually includes a myriad of AN fittings of various sizes. For a long time, an equal number of wrenches that correspond to each AN size was required for installing and removing hoses efficiently and without damage to the fittings' soft aluminum bodies. Powerhouse Products [(800) 872-7223; www.powerhouseproducts.com] has broken down the typical, 18-wrench assortment (AN -3 to AN -20) into these two tools, and they're perfect for a racer's track equipment box, race car, or engine shop. The two sizes are: AN -3 to AN -8 (PN POW302000) and AN -10 to AN -20 (PN POW302001).

These are the "why-didn't-I-think-of-that" tools of the millennium, and once again the focus is race-car plumbing. Koul Tools [(928) 854-6706; www.koultools.com] has a set of ingenious socket-type devices that eliminate the pain and suffering that go hand in hand with connecting AN fittings to steel-braided hose. While the Small Kit (PN 468) covers AN sizes -4, -6, and -8, a Large Kit (PN 1016) is also available to handle -10, -12, and -16 hose and fittings. Koul Tools sockets come with spacers and sleeves of various diameters that can be used to tighten excess space within a capsule that's the occasional result of using different manufacturers' fittings. They're must-haves if you have plumbing work to do on your race car and you value the skin on your hands and the blood in your veins.

Busted, bleeding knuckles are a thing of the past if you use these short- or long-reach HeaderSockets to extract spark plugs from near-impossible positions on a Mustang equipped with equal-length short- or long-tube headers. The chrome-moly sockets feature unique slotting, which shortens their effective length and makes installation on a plug possible (using the short sockets) with slightly less than 0.500 clearance between the end of the spark-plug tip and a header tube or other obstruction. HeaderSockets come in short, mid, and full-length sets for both 51/48- and 131/416-size spark plugs (PN POW301150), and are available through Powerhouse Products [(800) 872-7223; www.powerhouseproducts.com].

Good things really do come in small packages. At barely two pounds, don't be fooled by the small stature of this CTEK battery charger (PN MULTI US7000) because it's plenty strong and it virtually eliminates the need for the big, service-style 12-volt battery chargers that are usually next to the hatch or trunk of a race Mustang during between-round servicing. No joke-the MULTI US7000 is the do-it-all battery charger of the next century. It has a range of 14.4 volts (for wet and most gel-style batteries) to 16 volts (for recovering severely discharged batteries where stratified acid may be present). It can also adjust charge output based on the condition of a battery. So, it'll revive a stone-dead battery in short order by steadily increasing, then adjusting, the percentage of charge output as the battery gets stronger. It'll also keep a maintenance charge on a battery that isn't being used. Like most CTEK [(330) 963-0981; www.ctek.com] battery chargers, it has plenty of amperage to put life back in fully discharged Optima Red and Yellow-top/deep-cycle batteries, which seem to be the 12-volt cells of choice for many Mustang racers. They're relatively new in the United States, and we knew CTEK chargers were the real deal when we learned that companies such as Harley-Davidson in Scandinavia and Aston Martin include a CTEK charger with every car and bike they sell.

Valve adjustments, clutch adjustments, finding TDC, and other similar work that requires bumping the starter are usually two-person tasks-one person to make the adjustment and a crew member or buddy inside the car to turn the key and trigger the ignition. This pushbutton, remote starter switch (PN POW301220) by Powerhouse Products [(800) 872-7223; www.powerhouseproducts.com] is simple to use and removes the need for the extra person, which makes those jobs a lot easier.

Where would Mustang racing be today if the "Big 3" power adders had never been introduced to our favorite ride years ago? Be it nitrous oxide, a blower, or a turbo, most of today's hard-core race Mustangs pack a little more than just strong engines. When it comes to power adders, there's a near endless amount of equipment available for each flavor.

"Blow-through" is the buzz term for the latest rage in centrifugal supercharger and turbocharger drag-race Mustangs-where forced air is blown through a carburetor as opposed to the EFI/throttle-body systems that have been the norm for years when using either power adder. Barry Grant's [(706) 864-8544; www.barrygrant.com] new, Mighty Demon BT blow-through series are the carbs to use when a non-EFI, forced-air-induction application is your plan. These carburetors are available in sizes ranging from 650 to 850 cfm and are baseline calibrated (metering and fuel-curve circuits) for your turbo or supercharged application prior to shipping. They feature pressure-sealed throttle shafts, three base-plate-mounted boost/vacuum ports, and milled choke horns for reducing air turbulence between the carb cap and carburetor itself. Mighty Demon BT carbs are must-haves for diehard carburetor aficionados who want to race with boost but without the higher cost of a full-deal EFI setup.

Many hard-core 'Stang racers employ multistage nitrous systems (two-or-more shots) as their weapons of choice, and there are a lot of parameters involved with using these systems and getting them to work well with changes in track conditions. One of those parameters is activation time, and that's where devices such as this come in handy. It's the PROgressive timer (PN 0200) by Racing Instrumentation [(562) 492-1394; www.racing-instrumentation.com/progressive-controller]. This box is relatively new to the nitrous-timer market, but it's user-friendly and it complies with most sanctions' rules regarding controls/timers for nitrous systems. Timers for multiple stages are usually OK-it's the progressive nitrous controller devices that seem to get the Tech officials hyped, especially in classes where traction is challenged by limited tire sizes and/or rear suspensions. The timer includes several unique features that can be a huge benefit to the nitrous racer. Using the supplied software and a laptop computer, racers can apply timer maps, or programs, to as many as all six of the PROgressive timer's 20hz output channels. The timer goes to work the instant the transbrake button or clutch pedal is released. It can store two unique maps at one time, and either program can be selected at any time before a run by simply flipping a switch. The PROgressive also features a cumulative timer that enables it to pick back up where it left off in a "pedaling event," which is unlike the Digi-Set-style timers that have a delay before restarting after the wide-open-throttle contact has been broken. It also has a transbrake cutout function that prevents damaging the transmission by nitrous being prematurely fired while the transbrake is activated and the throttle is wide open. Yes-it's the new kid on the block, but this nitrous timer is cool, versatile, and it doesn't require a math degree to figure out. It's strongly recommended for multistage nitrous users looking for that extra edge.

This is an example of a boost controller for turbocharged Mustangs. A multistage, electronic controller (PN MSBC-1) from Innovative Turbo [(805) 526-5400; www.innovativeturbo.com] is pictured above, and the regulator, or "the knob," as turbo racers refer it to, is below. By the most basic of definitions, a boost controller limits boost to a set level at various points during a run by applying pressure to a wastegate on the exhaust and allowing air to vent into the atmosphere. This process repeats itself many times per second in order to create a consistent pressure.

The electronic controllers are popular because they give racers the ability to dial in several stages of boost control. The more common form of controlling stages is time delay. For instance, boost can be limited to 12 pounds to allow the car to launch, then after a preset time a second stage increases boost to 20 pounds, and so on. A finely tuned boost controller allows racers to make as much power as possible. It's up to the chassis and tires to hold it. The boost controller is critical to racing with a turbo at the heads-up level, but it's important to check out class rules before installing one.

Whenever a class's rules permit 8mm or 14mm cogs for superchargers, use them. What's the bottom line? Cogs are simply a must for hard-core blown 'Stangs. The cog drive helps protect the engine and supercharger because it requires much less belt tension during operation and thus causes considerably less deflection on the crank's snout and less wear on the blower itself. Cogs also promote higher boost pressures because they allow blowers to be driven faster without belt slippage and parasitic loss. For racers who must adhere to "no-cogs" rules, having an assortment of different-size pulleys to select from is important. As a rule of thumb, always pack a supply of new blower belts (serpentine and cog) to have at the ready if you need one at the track.

The snout of a small-block Ford crankshaft sustains the brunt of pressure and stress brought by the power that centrifugal superchargers are capable of producing. Aftermarket crankshafts are often designed with a larger snout that helps alleviate fatigue and failure. A crank support (PN 3FABB-025) like the one shown here by ATI ProCharger [(913) 338-2886; www.procharger.com] bolts to the front of the block and adds a level of protection to this vulnerable area by minimizing any deflection caused by the cantilevered blower drive. We believe crank supports should be considered mandatory equipment at the Outlaw 10.5 and True 10.5 level. Almost all the cars competing at these levels pack more than 1,900 hp, and the crank snout is called upon to help the blower meet the engine's airflow demands. In a sense, crank supports add an extra measure of safety, which alone is a prime reason they're part of the must-have collection for Mustang racers using the bigger blowers.

This new Autolite Revolution HT (PN HT0) is the must-have spark plug for '05-'06 Three-Valve 4.6 Mustang racers using power adders. Autolite's [(800) 862-7737; www.autolite.com] short-tip plug provides the coldest (heat-range) spark available for the Three-Valve 4.6. It features a 10mm design, which had been one of the bigger hurdles for S197 'Stangbangers who want to use larger shots of nitrous or more boost on their trey-valve engines.

Since this report is all about technology, we had to include the latest nitrous equipment from Nitrous Express [(940) 767-7694; www.nitrousexpress.com], as it's a prime example of how far nitrous plate-and-solenoid technology has come. The black nitrous plate shown here is the company's brand-new, Stage 6 Gemini Twin Phase-3 nitrous plate (PN NP604; 50hp-300hp) and Lightning Series solenoids (PN 15200L, nitrous and 15201L, fuel). The first-generation Gemini Twin plates are shown on the left, above the Phase-3 plate, while the plate on the right is a custom, two-stage Gemini Twin. These plates illustrate the evolution of this technology from spray bars running within or through the middle of the plenum opening to the current design, in which the spray holes for fuel and nitrous oxide are incorporated inside the plate itself and surround its perimeter, with nitrous and fuel spraying directly into the plenum from the bottom. This patented, new plate design directly addresses the distribution issues that have long been associated with using nitrous with small-block Fords. The NX Lightning Series offers weight-conscious racers the lightest solenoids in the industry, thanks to a combination of carbon fiber and 6061 T6 aluminum. The solenoids feature a bottom-exit design, a purge port on the nitrous can, and a bypass port on the fuel solenoid. For a long time, these features have been developed by racers because they weren't available in a self-contained solenoid.

When it comes to meeting the tremendous spark and timing needs of a blown, turbocharged, or nitrous-assisted race engine, the Programmable Digital-7 Plus (PN 7531) from MSD [(915) 857-5200; www.msdignition.com] is our hands-down choice as the must-have ignition box. Any engine influenced by a power adder has a denser intake charge than a naturally aspirated combination and requires a stronger spark due to higher cylinder pressures. Many power-adder combinations also require intricate timing settings-sometimes at the individual-cylinder level-to achieve maximum efficiency. The 7531 easily handles this, and it includes several innovative timing-retard features that can also be used to help improve a race 'Stang's launch/traction performance (see "Bite in a Box," Feb. '06, p. 126).

While no racer wants to have to replace one or both head gaskets during an event, the sad truth is sometimes it happens. Power adders can create enormous cylinder pressures and heat, which can sometimes compromise head-to-block seal, thanks to blown head gaskets (Fords, unlike Chevys are lacking in the head-bolt department). Anyone racing with a power adder must have good head gaskets on his or her engine. Racers competing with the elaborate nitrous systems or mega-powerful blowers and turbochargers (especially in the Pro 5.0 categories) prefer to use copper head gaskets such as the self-sealing SCE Titans shown on the left in the photo [(661) 949-0083; www.scegaskets.com]. Copper gaskets, because of their excellent thermal conductivity, help stabilize head and block temperatures. One of the benefits of copper gaskets is they'll stretch before a catastrophic failure, which provides an extra measure of safety in case of severe detonation. Multilayered-steel head gaskets also work great and are actually the new-school alternative to copper.