News: Ford Racing .99 Challenge

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Bolt-On Power

More details on Ford Racing’s record-setting 2015 Mustang drag runs

By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Ford Racing

Over the weekend, Ford Racing let the world in on a big secret. The factory racing division had challenged its own engineers to take the manual-transmission-equipped 2015 Ford Mustang and run quicker than 12.99-, 11.99-, and 10.99-second quarter-mile e.t.’s. The cars challenged to do so were the EcoBoost, naturally aspirated Mustang GT, and supercharged Mustang GT, respectively. As you no doubt heard, especially if you read our story, Ford Racing achieved its goals.

Remember that teaser shot of the EcoBoost Mustang pulling the wheels? Well, it was doing work.
Remember that teaser shot of the EcoBoost Mustang pulling the wheels? Well, it was doing work.

In case you missed the big news, the 2.3-liter EcoBoost Mustang ran a best of 12.56 at 109 mph, while the naturally aspirated, 5.0-liter Mustang GT ran a best of 11.77 at 117.

Narrowly ducking under its e.t. goal, the Ford Racing/Roush TVS-supercharged 5.0-liter Mustang GT clicked off a best run of 10.97 at 128 mph. If you haven’t seen the testing in action, you need to watch this impressive video:

Now we have a bit more information on the cars and their combinations. We also have small selection of still photos from this historic test session. So lets dig a little deeper into these record-breaking rides.

All of the .99 Challenge Mustangs have the same basic rear suspension mods, roll cages, and deleted seats.
All of the .99 Challenge Mustangs have the same basic rear suspension mods, roll cages, and deleted seats.

Heretofore, the Ford Racing sat on the sidelines and let the aftermarket have all the fun engaging in the arms race of firsts in every imaginable e.t. category. With the introduction of the S550, the factory speed merchants decided to up the ante and leverage their knowledge and access to get a jump on the rest of the performance world.

“Mike Delahanty (Crate Engine Product Manager) had the idea and Dave Born (Engineering Supervisor) jumped all over it,” Jesse Kershaw, Drag Racing Parts and Competition Manager at Ford Racing explained. “We always see shops proclaim they are the first and we agreed it would be cool for Ford Racing to make that claim.”

You might expect the factory to be a bit more conservative in approaching those goals, but that just wasn’t the case.

“We did not set a limit to the modifications but we wanted to start with the basics. For instance we could have gone to a bigger turbo, but wanted to work with the stock turbo first to achieve the goal,” Jesse added. “We could have thrown money at it, but the result would be difficult and expensive for other to duplicate. Instead, we worked our way up to the goal with small steps.”

Look at that slick wrinkle. We’ll admit being worried about the S550’s drag capabilities, but with just gears, upgraded bushings, and sturdier halfshafts, Ford Racing was able to hook up 10-second power.
Look at that slick wrinkle. We’ll admit being worried about the S550’s drag capabilities, but with just gears, upgraded bushings, and sturdier halfshafts, Ford Racing was able to hook up 10-second power.

Here’s what we learned about the vehicles Ford Racing used to storm the strip. First, all three vehicles featured stock engines—and in the case of the EcoBoost Mustang, a stock turbo. Moreover, the video only lists vague rear subframe upgrades. Now we know exactly what it took to make the IRS work on the drag strip at these power levels. The Ford Racing gear added to the rear suspension and diff are as follows:

Todd Sullivan, Ford Racing Calibration Engineer, and Tim Fudello, Ford Racing Calibration Team FCG worked on the development calibrations and refined them trackside.
Todd Sullivan, Ford Racing Calibration Engineer, and Tim Fudello, Ford Racing Calibration Team FCG worked on the development calibrations and refined them trackside.

• IRS subframe-to-body bushings

• IRS differential-to-subframe bushings

• 3.73:1 gears

• Exclusive high-performance halfshafts

“We have been working on the halfshafts and bushings for several months so with that sorted out we were able to continue adding more grip with the tire. In the end, we were running slicks and launching at 5,000 rpm or more,” Jesse said. “Andy Vrenko (chassis engineer and test driver) did a great job of getting the power down and driving consistently. The cars all have stock transmissions and clutches.”

Good news for everyone looking to hit the strip in a 2015 Mustang is that Weld Racing built wheels for these cars. That means they can build drag wheels for your S550.
Good news for everyone looking to hit the strip in a 2015 Mustang is that Weld Racing built wheels for these cars. That means they can build drag wheels for your S550.

What was also alluded to but not specified in the video, is that Ford Racing took the same sort of liberties that the public does when chasing that extra tenth. They dropped weight where they could. While the video emphatically states that the cars have Recaro race seats, it didn’t mention what wasn’t there. Missing from all three cars is both the passenger and rear seats. However, since all three cars feature custom roll cages, that’s a break-even at best. It’s not like they are stripped-out race cars.

The final—and likely most important—bit of news is that many of the parts used to set these records will be available by the fourth quarter of this year. If you aren’t in the financial biz, that means some time between October 1 and December 31, 2014. Some, however, will take longer, but they might just be worth the wait.

“The halfshafts and bushings should be shipping first quarter. While we aren’t offering the off-road exhaust our street legal exhaust kits will be available first quarter as well,” Jesse said. “Calibration is a bit further off but we are working on them for EcoBoost and the Coyote. The new processor and software is complex, but we’ve got some tricks up our sleeve.”

Based on the results of the .99 Challenge, we have no doubt that Ford Racing has a few tricks up its sleeve, and we can’t wait to see what they are.

Ford Racing’s EcoBoost Mustang is scary quick for a car with nothing more than a performance calibration, an off-road exhaust, and 3.73 gears. Sure it has sticky tires and other traction mods, but making 12-second power with a stock four-banger is impressive.
Ford Racing’s EcoBoost Mustang is scary quick for a car with nothing more than a performance calibration, an off-road exhaust, and 3.73 gears. Sure it has sticky tires and other traction mods, but making 12-second power with a stock four-banger is impressive.
Ford Racing engineers didn’t go so far as to use the age-old drag-racing trick of icing the intake between runs, but they did use fans to cool the cars down.
Ford Racing engineers didn’t go so far as to use the age-old drag-racing trick of icing the intake between runs, but they did use fans to cool the cars down.
From a power standpoint, the Ruby Red NA GT’s only mods are an induction system, a set of ARH Cobra Jet long-tube headers, an off-road exhaust, and a performance calibration.
From a power standpoint, the Ruby Red NA GT’s only mods are an induction system, a set of ARH Cobra Jet long-tube headers, an off-road exhaust, and a performance calibration.

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