Evolution Performance preps its Shelby GT350 for the strip with BMR
By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Evolution Performance
There is no doubt that the new Shelby GT350 is the best handling Mustang produced thus far. Ford Performance engineers took the S550 platform to new heights with a wider stance, improved aerodynamics, Magneride dampers and more. However, it also features a full suite of driving modes, and one of those modes is Drag Mode.
Yes, Ford Performance knows its customers. While most GT350s will spend time on the street and road course, some will head for the drag strip. While the gearing of this car’s transmission and rear axle aren’t ideal for the 1,320, the allure of seeing how quickly the high-winding Voodoo 5.2 can cover the quarter mile is undeniable.
One of the first of these cars to hit the strip is owned by Evolution Performance. As regular readers know, this car became the first GT350 to run in the 11-second zone with an 11.96 at 116 mph at Cecil County Raceway.
You can watch that run here…
Before heading out to the racetrack, however, the Evolution team decided that some sticky tires and suspension upgrades were in order.
“Just like all the previous ones, the car suffers from severe wheel hop. Wheel hop just makes you break stuff a lot quicker,” Evolution Performance’s Fred Cook explained. “Instead of breaking parts on a car that are probably impossible to get right now, we figured that it was cheap insurance. Plus, it is imperative because trying to do a burnout in a car with wheel hop is a waste.”
To ensure they had traction and didn’t break any parts, the first step was to install a pair of Mickey Thompson’s street-legal ET Street SS tires that are a bit shorter than the stock tires, to add some gear ratio since there are no numerically higher ratios available for the Super 8.8 yet.
Then there was the matter of selecting the right suspension mods to put down the power at the track without making the car unlivable on the street. Ultimately they chose to install a host of gear—including Adjustable Toe Rods (PN TR005; $209.95), Billet Vertical Links (PN TCA045; $189.95), Cradle Bushing Lockout Kit (PN CB005; $159.95), Differential Bushing Lockout (PN BK054; $49.95), and Lower Control Arm Bushings (PN BK055; $169.95)—from BMR Suspension.
“From the perspective of covering every base on the vehicle for what we are trying to do, I felt like BMR had the best full package, front to back; Especially their lower control arms bushings, which we pressed in,” he said. “They are probably one of the most important parts to change out, and a lot of people don’t realize that.”
Uncertain that the bushings would fit the new GT350 lower control arms, the Evolution crew resisted installing these bushings. In fact, on that first 11-second pass, the stock bushings were in place. Those passes illustrated the need for the more precise spherical bushings.
“Initially we didn’t install them. The first time we went to the track we had everything installed but those and we still had about 40-percent wheel hop. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was up and down, but front to back,” Fred said. “Once we switched them out, it is definitely a little stiffer back there, but is it creaky? Is it noisy? No. And they definitely made a hell of a difference.”
With the new bushings installed and a hotter tune from Lund Racing uploaded to the PCM (more on that in a future story), the team headed to Maryland International Raceway for some more hits. There Evolution’s Nelson Whitlock was able to click off an 11.76 at 118.83 mph with only a tires, tune and suspension. And, this car is no lightweight.
“The weight of the vehicle with Nelson in it was 4,020. Our car has the Tech package in it, so the leather seats, back seat, nav, all that stuff is in there,” he said. “There was zero weight reduction. The only thing that was changed, besides the suspension pieces were the rear tires.”
While this is just the beginning for this project, don’t look for this GT350 to become an all-out race car like some of Evolution’s previous Mustangs. This time they plan to mod this one into a potent street/strip machine. That doesn’t mean we won’t see some more aggressive mods, including a power adder, in the future.
“We have kicked around a lot of things, but we just haven’t settled on it yet. More than likely it will be a single turbo with an air-to-air intercooler,” he added. “…It’s never going to be a gutted race car, ever. Those brakes aren’t coming off. It will be one of those cars that you can drive to the track, race and drive home.”
Sounds like fun to us!