There I was, standing in Editor Rob Fisher's office, attempting to convince him to let me build and drive a Mini Stock Mustang. Now, that may not seem like such a crazy request coming from an Associate Editor of Circle Track magazine but, well, I'm not actually an Associate Editor of Circle Track magazine. In fact, the last time I was at a circle track, which, coincidentally, was also the first time I was at a circle track, I remember hearing only one piece of advice. Make sure you show up early, so you can get a good seat. Good seat, are you kidding me? I got to the track five minutes late and there was absolutely no one sitting directly off of the fence in Turn 4. As I sat down, thinking about how silly it was that everyone was sitting off to my right, the first piece of debris hit me in the face, then the second, then like bats out of hell, the rest of the rubber, rock, and asphalt came toward me and I did my best to grin and bear it, hoping no one would notice the error of my ways. For two hours I sat in that spot, stubbornly pretending that I knew what was going on, embarrassed to look back at my friends in the tenth row, knowing that they had a great laugh at my foolish inexperience.
So, with that being my collective experience in circle track racing, why did Editor Fisher allow me to embark on this project? Who knows! As a person who grew up in a large city, surrounded by nothing but straight roads and highways, my experience has been mainly in building late-model fuel-injected GM street cars and, while I have plenty of experience mashing the gas in a straight line, I certainly bring nothing to the table when it comes to turning left.
Picking up a "free car" may seem like a sweet deal, but everything always comes with a pri
Maybe Editor Fisher was tricked by my unwavering charisma or devilish good looks, but it probably didn't hurt that I left out the fact that I have never driven a real race car on track. But honestly, I think he has chosen me, or should we say caved into my pleas, because like many of you, I'm passionate about racing, have a desire to get on track, and have finally decided that the time was right to see what I'm made of.
For those of you who haven't raced yet, our real goal is to show you how easy it can be to get on track, how cost-effective it can be to have a great time, and hopefully, how to win some Mini Stock races.
But enough about me, let me introduce my new crew chief, co-driver, associate, and all-around fantastic wrench, Pete Epple of Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords fame, Circle Track's sister publication. Self described as a man, "so awesome, that if you met him, you'd puke," (yeah, we're not sure what that means either...) Epple actually brings something more to the table than reckless optimism and naïve ambition. You see, he cut his teeth setting up asphalt trucks in the Northeast and, unlike your author, actually has countless hours learning how to set up and run a successful race car.
As the midday sun kept Savannah warm, crew chief Pete Epple and Cody Ellis, manager of Car
If his name rings a bell, it's because Epple helped crew chief the Roush Yates-powered Project DLM with driver Bobby Clark, and actually took the car to a First Place trophy in only its second race. He's also an avid Mustang enthusiast and has probably forgotten more about the Fox body Mustang than most people will ever learn, so it made perfect sense to team up with him for our first real project in the Mini Stock world. Of course, besides Epple and me, we will also have the guidance of Mr. Fisher, Senior Technical Editor Bob Bolles, and hopefully, readers and supporters of the best magazine in the world, Circle Track.
So, first things first-we needed to find a car. After scouring the internet, searching popular sites like eBay.com and craigslist.org, we actually found a perfect candidate by mistake, in a casual conversation with an old friend.
"I have a four-cylinder Mustang in Savannah, Georgia, I'm looking to unload," he told us. "If you go pick it up, it's all yours." If you're familiar with Mini Stock racing, you probably already understand the allure of a 2.3-liter Mustang, but for those of you new to the class, let's cover some of the groundwork.
For a free Mustang, our '93 hatchback is in surprisingly good shape. The sheetmetal is str
The rear of our '93 Mustang was just as straight and clean as the front. Under the car, th
Our Mustang, which we have named City Boy in honor of its drivers, had to be pushed onto o
"On the road again..."
First, we found a local track and hit up its website for some rules. For us, this meant we had plenty of great Florida tracks to choose from, but we ultimately based our car around Desoto Super Speedway's rulebook for Mini Stock, which is not unlike many around the country. Billed as a class for "Cars only, 1971 or newer, compact or subcompact with factory steel top and body. Passenger cars or station wagons only. Front or rear wheel drive. No sports cars, vans or pickups." That certainly leaves it wide open, which is great for competition, variety, and most of all, ease of entry.
We chose to run a Mustang for several reasons, although many other cars would also be great in a class similar to this. First and foremost, the Mustang is a popular car, which means parts are plentiful and information is abundant. Getting replacement panels or engine parts will be simple and many aftermarket companies already support the chassis, which means less fabrication and less cost.
The Mustang also has a great engine, which fits perfectly in Mini Stock. Restricted to 2.3-liters (2,300 cc's) with an 0.060-inch overbore and 0.010-inch allowance for wear, the Ford powerplant comes in right on the limit of displacement, which puts it at a power advantage over smaller motors. The 2.3 is also known worldwide for its strength and reliability, which means we can hopefully race all season without needing to rebuild or replace our motor, further reducing our operating costs and increasing our chances of racking up some good points.
Check out this awesome Dale Earnhardt-inspired '32 Chevy, built by Terry Kamp. We were luc
The Mustang chassis is also reasonably lightweight, and since the rules don't allow for any cutting of the interior metal, we need to start with as light of a chassis as possible to stay competitive.
Lastly, the Mustang is also something Epple is familiar with, which will allow us to rely on his skills and knowledge early on, hopefully getting us to the front of the pack faster than usual. If you're going to follow along at home, I advise you to pick a car with similar attributes and, just as importantly, one you are comfortable working around.
Other than car-specific issues, Mini Stock runs a fairly open rule book, with Desoto Super Speedway's rules printing out on just four pages, two of which are the introduction and the new rule changes for the current year.
The body of our car must remain stock, with no modification of any kind, except for the addition of an aftermarket, but factory appearing nose. We will have to remove the usual parts, like the glass, lights, and moldings but will not be able to add a wing or splitter.
When was the last time you saw a set of Wide 5 wheels on a street driven car? Terry's '32
The suspension must remain mounted in the factory locations and aftermarket shocks are allowed, but they can't be air or coilover, which reduces the cost for everyone in the class. Wheels will be 8 inches wide and Desoto Speedway requires a specific tire, which keeps everyone on an even playing field.
The drivetrain rules are as restrictive as the rest, with the only rearend modifications being a new ring-and-pinion. Our Mustang came with a non-functioning automatic transmission, but we will be removing that to install a factory correct five-speed manual. Other than that, the rules are as closed or open as you read them to be, which makes this a perfect class for a couple of beginners like us.
Anyway, enough about the rules, let's get started on the good stuff! Clearly, Epple and I have plenty of work ahead of us, and time is not on our side. By the time you read this, we should be deep into our rollcage and safety install and the Mustang will be shedding some serious pounds. If you're interested in seeing this project's progress, check out the rest of our journey in these pictures and make sure you tune in next issue for the next installment of the City Boy build. For me, I'm off to work on my Victory Lane dance and to practice turning left...hopefully our next outing to the track won't end like my last, although we make no guarantees!
As the military says, Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents...ah, something I don't rem
Under the cover of darkness we stopped with City Boy for the last time, filling our Ford F
Home at last, safe for now in the Circle Track home office and shop. Make sure you tune in