After receiving a new intake, cams, and heads, Roger Miller's FR500S Mustang track car gai
The unfortunate reality is that race cars seldom enjoy retirement. If they aren't destroyed in a crash and hauled off for scrap, most wind up parted out. It's a hard life, no doubt about it. Fortunately there are a few people out there who are willing to give an old race car a second chance.
Roger McQueen gave this Miller Cup Mustang FR500S a new life when he purchased it and brought it to the East Coast to use as a track car. Tagged by Ford as the FR500S, this Mustang is a factory-built racer that was produced by Ford in 2007 and 2008. Seventy five examples were offered at $75,000 each, specifically to be raced in the eight race Ford Racing Mustang Challenge as part of the Miller Cup racing series.
Performance-wise, the cars were built to a spec just below the full-zoot FR500C Boy Racer factory car that competes in the Grand Am Koni Challenge. The front suspension is upgraded with two-way adjustable dampers, along with adjustable sway bars on both the front and rear. Four-piston Brembo brakes are installed on all four corners, and an FIA-spec rollcage protects the driver, who is belted into a Sparco racing seat. Lightweight Lexan supplanted the factory glass, and the front splitter and rear wing are not there only for looks.
That all sounds great. Underhood, however, a nearly stock, naturally aspirated Three-Valve 4.6-liter engine resides. Sure, Ford upgrades things a bit with a Bullitt cold-air kit, Borla headers, and an X-shape crossover, but the power still tops out at a relatively pedestrian 325 hp. In a spec series like the Miller Cup, where everyone has the same thing under the hood, that can make for some great fender-to-fender racing, but for track-day fun, Roger wanted a bit more punch.
Of course, Roger wanted to keep the naturally aspirated feel of the car intact. He brought the car to Ford performance specialist Pro-Dyno in Fort Mill, South Carolina, where owner Dan Desio put together an upgrade package designed to help the FR500S amplify its original feel on the race track. On top of that, Dan retained the car's Ford factory heritage by using mainly components chosen from the Ford Racing Performance Parts catalog. It's as if Ford decided to produce the FR500S+.
Among the upgrades are new heads, a new intake, and a 66mm throttle body from FRPP, as well as camshafts custom ground by Comp Cams. Previously tuned at Pro-Dyno, it was producing 299 hp at the rear wheels when this build began. After it was all said and done, power production was upped to 342 hp, but that hardly tells the whole story. Power is significantly improved in the usable rpm zone from 4,500 rpm all the way to 6,500. The mods also extended the redline by 200 rpm from stock to help the car stretch its legs on the track just a bit more.
Because these are all catalog components (the cams are a custom grind but Pro-Dyno sells them regularly), these same improvements are easy to be had for any Three-Valve 4.6 Mustang--street or track. Plus, this makes an excellent foundation that will really respond to power adders, such as nitrous or a turbo, that can be added in the future.
Here's a look at what comes under the hood from the factory. It's essentially the same Thr
If you're going to yank the heads on a mod motor, it will be a lot easier if you bite the
The coils will be reused, but the CNC-ported heads from Ford Racing Performance Parts use
Next to come off are the fuel rails--which also will be reused--and the intake manifold. T
The alternator and water crossover come off easily once the intake is out of the way. Like
The last step before we can finally get to the good stuff is to pull the damper and unbolt
This car hasn't seen a lot of miles, so the chain tensioners and guides are still in good
Those large assemblies on the cam gears are the camshaft phasers. Ford uses them to advanc
Paul regularly removes camshafts with the followers still installed and says he's never ha
With the cam and followers out of the way, you finally have access to the head bolts so th
There's practically no good way to keep coolant from pouring out of the heads and into the
Ford Racing's CNC-ported Three-Valve head (PN M-6050-N3VPA) features a slightly larger 53c
It's a really tight fit between the headers and the K-member, so Paul bolts up the headers
Unless you are using a power adder that's pumping a lot of boost into the combustion chamb
Locking out the cam phasers is relatively easy. Paul uses this aluminum block that fits in
Here's another look at the lockout in the phaser assembly. To install it, unbolt four of t
Pro-Dyno worked with Comp Cams to produce a series of custom grinds for their exclusive us
Ford's lash adjusters will last forever, so they are washed off and reinstalled.
After the lash adjusters are installed, the followers are next. Before installing the cams
The phaser assemblies are specific to the left and right banks of the engine. Even though
The new cams are installed and the fasteners on the cam caps are torqued to 150 in-lb.
One of the great features of the Three-Valve head, its single camshaft makes setting the t
Now it's simply a matter of reversing the previous steps to reinstall the front cover, dam
It won't add power, but the new Ford Racing blue valve covers are undeniably cool.
FRPP's Three-Valve intake features an open plenum for improved air supply at high-rpm leve
Here's the completed engine back in the car. Attached to the intake manifold is a Ford Rac
Since this is a dedicated track car, neither Dan nor Roger were willing to give up a strut
Horse Sense: The Mustang Challenge series is over, so these days Ford Racing's latest turnkey Mustangs--the Boss 302Rs--compete in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
On The Dyno
Here are the results. The blue lines are the original baseline horsepower and torque figures. Red shows the results after all the new goodies have been installed. The 43 extra peak horsepower is nice, but it's that extra area under the curve from 4,500 to 6,500 rpm that will really be felt on the track.