Lethal Performance shares its GT350 with friends on the PBIR road course
By Steve Turner
No matter what your job might be, you likely look forward to a little extra something at the end of the year. Maybe it’s the company holiday party or, better yet, a nice bonus. If you work at Lethal Performance, one of the perks is the bosses rent out Palm Beach International Raceway and throw you the keys to the company’s record-setting Shelby GT350 project car.
Yes, Team Lethal knows how do reward its employees, supporters and friends for another successful year. Just a couple days after Christmas 2015 the company rented PBIR for an afternoon of hot laps and fun. Attendees were welcome to bring their own vehicles for some spirited lapping, but the real attraction of the afternoon was the chance to ride in or drive the company’s tuned-up GT350.
“After participating in the Shelby GT350 North American Track Tour I realized what an awesome experience it was and really wanted to share that with our staff and good friends,” Jared explained. “In addition to that a lot of our fans really wanted to see the car hit the road course rather than the drag strip so it had to be done.”
While this car has already put down over 500 rear-wheel horsepower in naturally aspirated form and run the first 10-second GT350 e.t. with the help of nitrous, it is still fully capable on the street, drag strip or road course.
“This car is definitely potent with the JLT intake, Lund Racing tune, Lethal off-road pipes and E85,” he said. “Not only does it make great power for an NA setup but the ability to rev it to the moon makes it that much better. In addition to the power it makes the car drives so smooth. When we took it to the drag strip a few weeks back Jeremy (Martorella) was amazed at how easy it was to drive.”
If you weren’t lucky enough to be at PBIR on a sunny December afternoon, you can experience the GT350’s track prowess from afar in this video…
While experienced driver Frank Perdomo of Power by the Hour was on hand to give a bit of instruction to the road course novices, he wasn’t the only skilled wheel man in attendance. Multimatic Motorsports team driver and Shelby GT350R-C pilot Billy Johnson got wind of the track rental and asked if he could come out.
“I had heard a lot of good things about Billy as he’s local to us but never had the opportunity to meet him. When I was asked whether I minded if he came out to our track day it wasn’t even a question. So when he showed up with his wife, family and two cars I was very excited to have him join us,” Jared said. “Before taking me for a ride he put the Motec setup in the car to record some data and then we were off. What a difference it makes going around the track with a driver of his level compared to a novice like myself. Where I would slowly enter a turn he’d whip right into it like it was nothing. On our last lap Billy asked if it was OK to drift the car. I said ‘Hell yeah, man!’ and not a second or two later we were drifting through the turns. What an awesome experience the track day turned out to be. Hopefully we can do something like that again soon.”
If you aren’t familiar with Billy and the work of the Multimatic Motorsports team, they campaigned two Shelby GT350R-C race cars in the IMSA Continental Sports Car Challenge class. The team notched some victories and played a crucial role in the development of the street-going GT350. Despite that inside access, the Lethal track day proved to be Billy’s first time behind the wheel of a production Shelby GT350.
“Having been a part of the testing and development of the GT350/R street cars and the GT350R-C race car, the Lethal Performance GT350 was the first ‘production’ car that I’ve driven,” he explained. “The response of the GT350’s chassis—the balance and character—is nearly identical to the GT350R-C that I race in the IMSA Continental Tire Series (co-driving with Scott Maxwell) for Multimatic Motorsports. Despite being ‘showroom stock racing,’ where the cars are essentially caged street cars with minimal modifications, the GT350 is probably closer to the race car than anything else out there.”
Of course the Lethal Performance GT350 is definitely not showroom stock, but its mods helped it compare even more favorably to the GT350R-C racer.
“The base GT350 has more power than the GT350R-C that I race, and the power-to-weight ratios are actually pretty close between the two,” Billy said. “With 500 wheel horsepower, the Lethal tuned car has a far better power-to-weight ratio and pulls even harder. It’s rare to complain about having more power.”
It’s definitely cool to hear Billy’s feedback about how the street car compares with the race car, but for fun he also brought along a Motec datalogger. With that unit in place, he was able to give a quick overview of how the GT350 compares with a BMW E90 M3 on the same track. The GT350 definitely shined, despite being short shifted in deference to its wounded clutch.
“We overlaid the data of the Lethal GT350, which had a passenger. Despite this, the GT350 pulled harder down the straights with a higher top speed, braked better, and had higher minimum cornering speeds and pulled more lateral gs than the already impressive E90 M3 which has a similar 8,200-rpm rev limit,” he said. “The 4.0-liter S65 V8 engine is probably more in common spiritually as the 5.2-liter Voodoo engine in terms of their stratospheric redlines, but the longer stroke, larger displacement, flat-plane crank and outright more power and significantly more torque make the Ford leaps and bounds stronger and faster than the already impressive BMW engine.”
“The E90 wasn’t the target for the GT350, but it’s cool to overlay the data and see how it stacks up,” he added. “I would venture to say that the GT350 would easily shame the twin-turbo F80 M3, but I don’t think that was a target either. The GT350 delivers incredible performance, which is usually found on cars two to three times the price; and the execution of the car’s set-up and handling really make it a ‘driver’s car’ in my eyes.”
In our experience the GT350 is definitely a driver’s car and thanks to the generosity of Lethal Performance’s Jared Rosen and Jonas Cooper, a few more lucky people were able to experience what the car is all about in the environment where it was born to run—the road course.
Lethal Performance Shelby GT350 Track Day