What was a handful was the shifting and traction control. You can only shut off so much of the traction control--and with this much torque instantly under foot, you want to think long and hard before pushing that button--and with the transmission shifting sort of when you think, there was something of a lottery regarding traction on corner exit. If the TC cut in, the gig was up in a big way, followed by a long pause until the computer was absolutely confident things weren't going upside down, followed by another explosion of power.
Two things helped. Most effective was to square the corner exit a little, getting the car pointed straighter than we would have liked before squeezing the trigger on those Roush-assisted ponies. The other was to manually shift the transmission.
The downshifts were made under braking and were easy enough. The upshifts were made just as soon after acceleration was obtained, so if exiting a corner in Second, as soon as the throttle was down, you put the shifter in Third. The trans then automatically shifts smoothly and quickly into Third, at which point you immediately slide the shifter into Drive. If you try to shift the automatic right at redline, it's too late--the rev-limiter kicks in, the car noses over big time, and it's generally ugly. Let the auto do its thing on the upshifts.
But don't let all this rambling about shifting cover up the fact that this car hauls. The power was intoxicating and let us turn a low 1:58 lap. That's Corvette ZO6 territory, and let's just say we hardly ever saw the GT2 Porsche race car sharing the track with us.
After three sessions, the fuel tank was empty and we elected to go home with everything still in one piece. Fun as it was, we had already learned the Eibach car was track-ready and it's adjustable suspension was good for fine tuning. We also proved the suspension didn't abuse the tires (that was up to us!), the brakes were right there, and the whole thing balanced enough to be a fun track driver.
Once outside the gate, we re-filled the gas tank at the same station we had filled it about six hours earlier, and headed home with the air conditioning on. Amazing.
Horse Sense: If open-tracking a modern Mustang GT, we would add a catch can to the rear-axle vent. It does tend to weep under sustained high speeds in turns. Bob's Auto Sports (www.bobsautosports.com) has a nice one if you are in the market.
Helping us more than once with track testing has been Speed Ventures (www.speedventures.com), an open-track group run by Aaron Bitterman. Speed Ventures puts on professional open-track events along the U.S. West Coast, plus Nevada, and because it's has been doing it since 2001, the outfit has it down to a science.
We like running with Speed Ventures because the rules are logical and straightforward, and enforcement is even. Their fastest run groups feature open passing (yes!) and somehow, while no more expensive than any other group, Speed Ventures doesn't seem to attract squirrels who can't keep their cars on the asphalt. They even order pizza if enough folks sign up by 10 a.m.
Expect three to five run groups and about two hours of track time per event. Entry fees vary by track, but Bitterman likes to keep them around $190 if at all possible. That, or a little more, is not bad for a big track like Fontana.
5.0 Tech Specs
'11 Mustang GT
Engine and Drivetrain
Block Low-pressure cast 319 aluminum w/pressed-in, thin-wall iron liners
Crankshaft Forged steel, fully counterweighted, induction hardened
Rods Powered metal forging, I-beam, no balance pad
Pistons Hypereutectic, short-skirt, flat-top w/four equal valve reliefs; moly friction-reducing coating; oil-jet cooled
Camshafts DOHC w/Twin Independently Variable Cam Timing
Cylinder heads Aluminum, four-valve per cylinder
Intake manifold Roush Performance lower with air-to-water intercooler
Power Adder 2.3-liter Roushcharger
Fuel system Port fuel injection, returnless
Exhaust Magnaflow after-cat
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Engine management Copperhead with Spankin' Time tune
Ignition Stock coil-on-plug
Suspension and Chassis
A-arms Reverse lower
Struts Eibach R1
Springs Eibach R1
Brakes Brembo six-piston calipers w/14-in rotors
Tires BFGoodrich 265/30ZR-20 Rear suspension
Shocks Eibach R2
Springs Eibach R2
Control Arms Stock
Tires BFGoodrich 285/30ZR-20