An all-round automotive athlete,...
An all-round automotive athlete, Mark Blaha's '06 GT looks the part in its FR500S aerodynamic package. As a One Lap of America class winner, it has conquered dragstrips, skid pads, road courses, and autocrosses. Yet it still comfortably delivers Mark to the office most days, and even makes the odd show appearance.
Horse Sense: After our shoot, Mark replaced the MP-112H blower with a 1.9-liter Eaton TVS-based MagnaCharger (the MP-1.9-liter TVS.) Eaton's Twin Vortices Series is a more efficient Roots that uses four lobes per rotor in place of the usual three.
The key to a successful and enjoyable personalized Mustang is to carefully tailor any modifications to its intended use. There's no sense in mechanically cloning a drag car if the only red, yellow, and green lights your 'Stang will see are the traffic signals on the way to the office. Likewise, loading up a dedicated straight-line or open-track racer with street bling will only slow it down and hamper its reflexes.
But what if your ride's mission profile includes daily driving, the quarter-mile, road courses, ovals, skid pads, and autocross-oh, and the occasional car show?
That was the scenario faced by Michigan's Mark Blaha when he decided to enter his daily driven '06 GT coupe in that annual cross-country blitzkrieg of automotive adrenaline known as One Lap of America. Some of you may have heard of or perhaps even been in One Lap, which is basically an intense week-long highway trek interspersed with a berserk assortment of daily on-track competition, including the aforementioned road-course, dragstrip, super-speedway, autocross, and skid-pad events. Consider that in 2008, One Lap competitors had to high-tail it between race-track stops in Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, two sites in Texas (a big state, in case you need reminding), Louisiana, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and back to the starting point in Indiana-all in just seven days with the car piloted by no more than two drivers in between and at all venues. Need more dissuasion? No support vehicles are permitted on this epic journey, and you must complete the entire torturous week on one set of street-legal tires.
Though broken down into a number of vehicle classes, there are few One Lap rules when it comes to modifications, but all entrant vehicles must remain street legal-no surprise given that competitors will spend the bleary-eyed majority of the week crisscrossing the nation's highways and byways. Basically, an entry had better be quick, agile, and have great braking, but also decent comfort so you can catch the odd nap while your tired co-pilot soldiers on. Above all, it must be dead-nuts reliable-3,000 hp does no good if it can't survive both the on-track warfare and inter-track commuting.
Mark's approach on his Tungsten Gray GT was to leave the Three-Valve long-block untouched, adding a MagnaCharger MP-112H blower based on Eaton's hybrid-Roots unit, pulleyed for about 12 psi. This is supported by FRPP's S197 twin fuel pump kit, a Corsa axle-back exhaust, and a careful tune by Mark himself, a calibration engineer for Powerworks Performance. Showing their factory toughness, the clutch, TR3650 tranny, and rearend are all stock.
This multi-tasking GT's suspension combines Ford Racing's S197 Handling Pack (M-2005-FR3) with Steeda's billet lower control arms and adjustable Third-link out back. Not surprisingly, Mark turned to Baer for race- and road-worthy brakes, chilled up front by prototype FRPP brake ducts (M-16601-C5.) To keep unsprung mass in check, he opted for Steeda's Ultra-Lite rims in 20x9.5 all around, and mounted Yokohama Advan Sport rubber, 265/35R20 up front and 285/30R20 on the rear.
On cold tires, the combo was good for an impressive 0.97g at Tire Rack's (the main event sponsor) skid pad. And remember that these tires had to survive nearly every form of autosports known to man while also circumnavigating a good portion of these United States without giving up. In this form, the GT ran a 12.10 quarter-mile at 118 mph.