Well, it’s been a few months since we installed the last round of bolt-ons on our 2020 GT500, which helped us eclipse 940-rwhp. With a tank full of E85 and no stone left unturned, we are squeezing every last once of power out of the 5.2-liter Predator engine and its factory TVS2650 supercharger. Frankly, making power has been the easiest part of this project. On the first round of bolt-ons, the Predator proved capable of 828-rwhp and 666 lb-ft of torque. With a baseline of 674hp and 561 lb-ft of torque stock, that’s a 154hp gain from bolt-ons! The additional blower porting and intercooler upgrade were worth another 112hp (helping us hit 940-rwhp and 663 lb-ft of torque).
We’ve also equipped the suspension with every upgrade BMR offers, added Forgeline beadlock wheels, and Mickey Thompson drag radials which dropped one-tenth off our sixty-foot times in challenging conditions. However, a trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway after the first round of bolt-ons proved the car was capable of so much more. Unfortunately, we were only able to make one pass, but it went a 1.61 sixty-foot on its way to a 10.30 at 135mph. While we did not have a set goal for the project, other than to push this new platform as far as we could to see what it could do – we are determined to go faster.
To Barona We Shall Go
While we had hoped to have some solid track times by now to share, harnessing this much power on a marginal track without 33-inch slicks has proven challenging. If you recall, traction has been an issue dating all the way back to our baseline testing with the completely stock Shelby! Southern California no longer has any quarter-mile tracks nor an eighth-mile track with the sort of track conditions that are going to help you set any records–especially on drag radials. Never the less, we headed to Barona 1/8 Mile Drag Strip – our favorite local track – for a fun Friday night to shake out our new combo.
We made some fun and fast friends at Barona, including a few S197 GT500 owners racing that night as well as Mustang lovers among the staff. It was a nice reminder of what it is like to be among our people–the sounds of DOHC V8s reverberating off the San Diego county mountains in all their glory. In order to keep the car cool and ensure we’d still have a ride home if we broke an axle, we transported the 2020 GT500 in our enclosed trailer. Thankfully we finished the night unscathed, and heat-soak was the least of our concerns–but it’s nice to have a few less worries. All I had to do was show up and drive. If only it was that simple.
Our Shop Manager Dean Jigamian was my faithful companion on this journey, who helped make sure the 2020 GT500 was topped off with Renegade Pro E85 to ensure a consistent fuel mix during testing, that the Mickey Thompson ET Street R Drag Radials (325/35R18) were aired down to 18psi, and the Forgeline 18-inch wheels were safely secured to the hubs. I familiarized myself with the GT500’s track apps, including the line lock and launch control. After taking a walk to the starting line, it appeared the track was pretty sticky when it opened at 5pm. So I set the launch control for 2,500rpm, hoping for the best.
On my first attempt, I struggled a little to get both the line lock and launch control to work. The burnout was definitely not what I was hoping for. Never the less, I managed to engage the launch control and cut a 1.90 sixty-foot time on the way to a 7.022 at 110.5 mph. The launch felt soft and bogged a little, but it ran like a blood-thirsty ape out the backdoor. My adrenaline started pumping. It was time to make a big adjustment to leave harder. Since using launch control requires leaving traction control on, which inherently limits the power delivery, on the next attempt I turned off traction control and simply left from idle. The car bogged and as I rolled into it, it immediately spun.
On the third run, I tried foot-braking and being a little more gentle with the throttle thereafter– same result. Both the second and third runs were nearly identical 5.1 to half-track and 7.4 at 108mph to the top end. Unfortunately gently rolling into 940-rwhp with a positive displacement blower is a bit of a futile feat. Angry, I headed right back to the starting line, knowing I needed a much better launch to have any hope of improving. I decided to go back to the old, trusty launch control method that the factory Ford engineers spent millions of hours engineering, which (spoiler alert) would prove the fastest way down the track. I bumped the launch RPM to 3,000 and hoped for the best. It still bogged out of the hole, going 1.80 to the sixty on the way to 6.91 at 110mph.
I let the car cool and on the next pass, I bumped the launch RPM but it spun off the line as the track was starting to go away as the temperature dropped (and HP was increasing). I continued to drop launch RPM on each successive pass, but it was a losing battle. I literally finished the night leaving at 1,200rpm with the launch control and it still spun. That was the lowest setting and it sounds very strange when you are on the transbrake, in case you are wondering. Our night was over.
For those more familiar with quarter-mile racing, a 6.9 is equivalent to a 10.76-10.88 e.t. by most drag racing calculators. The bottom line is that unless this car can cut a better sixty-foot time, it’s not going any faster in the eighth. In optimal conditions, the fastest GT500s are running a high 1.4 to a low 1.5 sixty-foot (with the same suspension upgrades/tires). It’s now June in the southwest, which means 100-plus degree track temps. We happened to find a more reasonable 70-degree day in April for our Barona session, and have been searching for a quarter-mile track session with better conditions ever since. With a little luck, we are hoping to get up to Bakersfield (Famoso) and click off a low 6-second pass (mid-9s) to wrap up the project. Stay tuned for another track session, and wish us luck!