An all-round automotive athlete, Mark Blaha's '06 GT looks the part in its FR500S aerodyna
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.
Reliable power comes by way of about 12 psi of boost from an intercooled MagnaCharger MP-1
The car's aero package is obvious at a glance; it's the same as those on the FR500S Miller Cup Mustangs. The chin spoiler and splitter, grille, and rear wing are manufactured by Classic Design Concepts and available through Ford Racing. They lend an inarguably racy look, and no doubt proved handy on some of One Lap's high-speed tracks.
Which brings us to the interior-a key to success not just at the race venues, but also as a safe haven for consuming all those heart-blitzing cans of energy drink and bags of highly nutritious gas-station road food during the mind- and butt-numbing hours spent commuting between tracks. Obvious is the driver's Corbeau Forza bucket and Simpson five-point belts (passengers are not permitted during the competitive segments, so the shotgun seat remains stock), but some less obvious enhancements are just as important. Like all the satellite radio paraphernalia-gotta have road tunes!-and the GPS unit for finding the quickest routes around the country. While these latter items are not normally considered essential-or desirable-in a race car, One Lap of America has a different set of requirements for success (and survival).
Speaking of success, Mark's carefully prepped GT was good enough to win its class in the '08 One Lap. It was also good enough to carry both he and his co-driver through a harried week with virtually no true rest, as well as serve as Mark's daily commuter while awaiting next year's One Lap of America.
It doesn't have the gutted look of a race car, does it? On the contrary, Mark has added entertainment and navigation hardware, both for the thousands of miles rolled during One Lap and for his daily commute. Oh, and the switchbox above the gentle reminder to turn off the traction control is used to engage the GT's remote-mounted radar protection hardware...
|5.0 Tech Specs|
|ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN||Ignition|
|Stroke||SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS|
|Stock||FRPP Handling Pack|
|Stock||FRPP Handling Pack|
|Stock||Stock with Powergrid adjustable|
|Intake||Baer Extreme-Plus 14-inch with|
|Magnuson blower intake||six-piston calipers, Hawk pads|
|Power Adder||Brake Ducts|
|MagnaCharger MP-112H hybrid||FRPP/CDC M-16601-C5|
|Throttle Body||Steeda Ultra-Lite 20x9.5|
|Twin 65mm (from 6.8L V-10)||Tires|
|Mass Air||Yokohama Advan Sport|
|Fuel Pump||FRPP Handling Pack|
|FRPP twin pump||Springs|
|Headers||FRPP Handling Pack|
|Exhaust||Steeda billet lower arms, adjustable|
|Corsa axle-back||Third-link and Panhard bar|
|Stock||Modified torque/traction control|
|Clutch||calibration by Powerworks|
|Rearend||Baer 13-inch rotors, Hawk|
|3.55:1 gears||competition pads|
|ELECTRONICS||Steeda Ultra-Lite 20x9.5|
|Stock with Powerworks||Yokohama Advan Sport|