Dean Martin dominates the World Challenge GTS class at the Detroit Grand Prix for the second year in a row
Photos by StacyStangz
It’s not every day that you are embedded with a team racing for a win on an international stage—much less two wins—but that was just the opportunity that SVTP was recently given by Rehagen Racing‘s Dean Martin. You might know Dean from his former job as SVT chassis engineer during the Gen II Lightning, 2000 Cobra R, and Terminator eras. Essentially, Dean was the SVT pilot who tested and tuned the suspensions of the nastiest Fords of the time.
Currently Dean spends his time building, tuning, and racing Mustangs in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class. This time last year he decided to try his hand at the series for the first time at the Belle Isle Grand Prix in Detroit, Michigan. He put together his car in about a week and went on to win the second race of the weekend.
This year Dean is running the full World Challenge schedule, and he currently holds two victories in the Grand Am series this season. This weekend the Rehagen team returned to where it all started—Belle Isle.
You have no doubt seen me espouse my fondness of the Motor City, and this race solidified its place among my favorite travel destinations even further. This year Chevrolet sponsored the Grand Prix, and I have to say that this event has led me to believe that GM really knows how to put my tax dollars to work (I kid.). The event was highly organized; professionally run by a friendly and helpful staff; and supremely fun.
Back in the pits, Dean’s team spent a few practice sessions dialing in its hastily built number 50 Picture Cars East Boss 302S Mustang. I say it was hastily build because Dean was caught up in a four-Ford wreck on the starting line at Barber Motorsports Park during the preceding race.
His new steed started life as a caged Boss 302S body from Ford Racing. From there the Picture Cars East team added a Boss R transmission, an ATL fuel cell, BBS wheels, Pirelli tires, a Cortex Watts-link suspension, Dynamic suspension dampers, Eibach springs, a Tiger Racing hood, 15-inch Brembo front brakes, and Performance Friction rear brakes. But the mod list doesn’t stop there. The car also boasts the following custom parts available from Rehagen Racing: a carbon fiber splitter; custom exhaust; and differential, transmission, and oil coolers.
The engine is essentially a stock Boss 302 RoadRunner 5.0-liter V8. In fact, in order to make the playing field more level for lower-powered or heavier cars, such as the Kia Optimas and Chevrolet Camaros, the Mustangs are mandated to use a 60mm intake restrictor. That’s a 25-percent reduction from the Boss’s 80mm throttle body. Still, it’s surprising how stock these race cars seem.
If you had an interest in building one of these cars in your garage, you could do so with the help of a few racing parts vendors like as Rehagen Racing. Conversely, you could buy a Boss 302S from Ford Racing and be about 90 percent of the way to a full-blown race car. However, Dean told us that anyone can build a car like his, but the real secret is in the setup.
Dean and the Picture Cars East team started off the weekend by scoring the pole position for the weekend’s first race. In the Saturday race from the starting line to the checkered flag Dean never gave up the lead during the full 50-minute session. This put the Rehagen crew on top of the podium and put a Detroit-made Shinola watch on his wrist.
For Dean and his team, the Sunday race seemed like Groundhog’s Day. Once again Dean started from the pole, led every lap, won the race, and received another Shinola watch.
While the Rehagen crew makes winning look easy, I’m here to tell you than countless hours and sleepless nights are the norm for a team competing and this level. Moreover, everyone we met that laid hands on the Picture Cars East Mustang was great. In particular, I have to give a shout-out to Dean’s wife Amy. She makes sure that everything runs smoothly with the team has what it needs to put the Boss in victory lane.
I can’t wait to make it out to my next Pirelli World Challenge race. If there happens to be one near you I highly suggest you make a weekend of it. You’ll get to meet the teams, see some awesome cars, and hopefully see a Mustang take home the win like I did.