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Fox Mustang Drag Cars - Mechanical Romance
Brian And Michelle Cantrell Attack The Dragstrip Together
Thanks to a tuning mistake and the winter months, Brian had to wait until the next racing season to go after the 9s. He burnt a piston and had to add a new one. He also ditched the supercharger and added a pair of Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads, as well as a Comp Cams solid-roller cam. With the stock computer, the car ran a 10.65 at 126 mph with the new combo. Then on one trip to Cecil County, his buddy Tim Ward ran into problems with his own carb'd 408. Brian always wanted to try a carburetor, so they swapped the Barry Grant 750-cfm carb to Brian's car in less than an hour. Without tuning the carburetor to his combo, the car responded with a 10.5 at 128 mph.
That's all Brian needed to know about carbs, so he called Summit Racing to order a Holley 950hp carburetor and all the necessary installation components. With a year of tuning and porting the Victor Jr. heads, he conquered the 9-second zone with a 9.98. Currently, the 408 boast AFR heads and high-compression 13:1 pistons. It has run a best of 9.88 at 137 mph.
All this time, Michelle tagged along, playing the role of group photographer/videographer and learning all she could about drag racing. When she finally took her maiden voyage down Cecil Country Dragway, she was hooked-there was no looking back. All that was left to look for was her own Mustang. That happened in 2001 when a friend was ready to sell his '90 coupe that had lost oil pressure. The car already boasted a partially primered exterior, a C4 transmission, 3.73 gears, long-tube headers, an H-pipe, and underdrive pulleys. Brian had done all the work on the car up to that point, so he knew the car well-however, he doesn't take credit for the faulty oil pump.
Now proud owners of the coupe, Michelle and Brian went to work pulling the engine for a rebuild to 306 specs. Aside from the extra cubic inches and new pistons, the engine was essentially stock, featuring only the aforementioned bolt-ons. On the coupe's first trip down Cecil County Dragway, Brian ran the car to a 14.51 at 94 mph. Next, it was Michelle's turn. "I was really nervous," Michelle says. "Knowing the Mustang would be much faster than my previous runs at the track, I ran a 19.16 at 72 mph." She was understandably embarrassed, but after getting used to the car and manually shifting the C4, she was also able to get the coupe into the 14.5s.
Shortly after getting her drag racing groove on, Michelle attended her first NMRA Motorsport Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennylvania. She entered the coupe in the Bracket 3 class and ran in the low 14s. More importantly, she made it to the third round of eliminations and won some money in her first competitive event. How many of us can say that?
Just as on Brian's car, Michelle's coupe has undergone a transformation through the years. Stock heads gave way to ported stock heads, and then more extensively ported stock heads with larger valves. Those gave way to Edelbrock Victor
Jr. heads. The stock intake was ditched in favor of a Cobra intake. A Vortech A-Trim supercharger was swapped out in exchange for an SQ S-Trim huffer. Thanks to those changes, Michelle's coupe went from 14.5s to 10.60s, and Brian is hoping for more.
These days, Brian and Michelle have to get more than two Mustangs ready for racing: They have to prep little Sarah Katelyn to take along. Is a third Mustang far off?
Brian is known in his circle of friends as a good wrench, so it's no surprise to us that he assembled the 408 residing underhood of his '87 LX. Accurate Machine in Newport, Delaware, performed the necessary machining to get the '89 351W truck block ready for an Eagle forged stroker crank and H-beam connecting rods, SRP flat-top pistons, Total Seal piston rings, and a Comp Cams ground bumpstick. The block was bored 0.030-inch over, and with the 4-inch stroke from the Eagle crank, the engine comes in at 408 ci. With the SRP flat-top pistons, the 408's compression ratio comes in at a muscular 13:1. As of right now, the AFR 205 heads are box-stock but feature 2.08/1.60 valves. Unlike the heads, the Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake sitting atop the combo features a port job and relies on the air/fuel mixture from a Holley 950hp carburetor.