If you've been following the NMRA Racing scene lately, then you know Joe ... or at least, you should. This Joe is Joe Cram or Dyno Joe. He's not quite an Internet sensation just yet, but it's not for lack of trying.
Joe is one of those rare Mustang personalities having a fervor about the Mustang drag racing hobby. He's a regular at NMRA racing events across the country, and he even owns his own shop, Dyno Joe Performance in Houston, Texas. We've heard everything's bigger in Texas, and Joe's personality certainly backs that up.
Joe's GT was used to test Saleen performance parts, and at one time was supposed to have a Saleen serial number, but that deal fell through, so for all intents and purposes, Joe's GT remains exactly that--a GT.
It is a race car first, and a street car second. We knew that coming in, but we wanted to see how a genuine race car would do against a field of street cars. Joe said his GT was a street car, but we don't see too many street cars wrapped in sponsor regalia at the grocery store. As a matter of fact, we've never seen that. I would imagine swinging bags of groceries over a rollcage with fixed door bars would be tough. Not to mention trying to stuff said bags into a trunk with a battery box, more rollcage bars, and the like.
Speaking of those door bars, they did make getting into and out of Joe's car just like getting into and out of ... well, a race car. The car did feature stock seatbelts in addition to the harnesses. However, with Joe making several mechanical changes to the car leading up to the KOTS, there were several street-oriented items that didn't work due to time constraints. Joe ran out of time getting everything back in working order before the competition, which in the end really hurt his finishing position.
Of the street items not working during the Ride and Drive were the car's 4R70W's overdrive and lock-up functions, and the A/C. Both hurt the Ride and Drive score, but hoping to redeem some of those lost points, Joe did have Kid Rock in the CD player--and not the new Kid Rock. It was old Kid Rock, and since the car's Shaker 500 stereo works really well, "Cowboy" sounded great.
Another concession to the dragstrip made in Joe's car is the 4R70W's manual valvebody. Yes, a manual valvebody is designed to enable the driver to control where the transmission shifts. With many rpm-controlled shift points, if a car goes into tire spin, that could cause the transmission to shift into the next gear prematurely. A manual valvebody allows the driver to control when the car shifts via the shifter. In Joe's case, he chose a Hurst Quarter Stick shifter, which is easy to use, but the uninitiated would be lost. Luckily, I've been down this road before. The GT's brakes were also race-oriented, which means they're a little noisy compared to street-style brakes.
One impressive characteristic of Joe's car is its throttle response. With an Edelbrock E-Force supercharger atop a built Three-Valve, go time is right now. Unlike an Arby's drive-thru, there's no waiting. However, Joe's car didn't have an axle-back exhaust on it, so it was very loud--too loud. One of Joe's primary sponsors is Magnaflow, but Joe felt his car was better served with an open-type exhaust, which might've helped him on the dyno ever-so slightly, but on the Ride and Drive, not so much.
As it was, we think Joe's car proved a race car could do well in the KOTS, but he ran out of time to make sure those things were in order. If the transmission, A/C, and exhaust were more street-friendly, Joe's car would've been up higher in the finishing order. But as it was, Joe's GT suffered mightily in the Ride and Drive category, scoring a 6. Even with fresh paint on many of its panels, Editor Turner gave it a 6 in Fit and Finish, as did Tech Editor Jones in the Engineering category. All of Joe's NMRA buddies, including Conrad Scarry, came over to vote for him the Popular Vote category, giving him an 8. Conrad made sure to sign his vote card so Joe would know he voted for him.
Joe's GT prospered where you would think it should--in the Drag Race category--with a stellar 10.13/132-mph pass following a 10.14/132-mph pass. With those performances bettering four of the other KOTS cars that made more power, Joe was clearly making the most of the available ponies. With his 10.13 pass, Joe scored a 7 in the Drag Race category. However, since his car made "just" 551 hp, it scored a 3 in the all-important Dyno category.
Engine and Drivetrain
Kellogg crankshaft, Manley Performance rods and pistons
FRPP Three-Valve, DynoJoe Performance-ported
Mass Air Meter
Edelbrock E-Force supercharger
Circle D Transmissions-built 4R70W w/manual valvebody, billet 3,200-rpm converter, Hurst shifter
8.8 w/4.10 gear, Moser 31-spline axles, and Detroit Truetrac differential
Kooks headers w/Magnaflow exhaust
Shelby GT500 w/Kenne Bell Boost-a-Pump and FRPP 80-lb/hr injectors
Computer Stock with SCT/DynoJoe Performance tune