The crew at Injected Engineering fro Kennesaw, Georgia, came south with a pack of serious S550s, many of them with twin-turbo setups. This mildly modified Grabber Blue machine ran just over 130 mph while we were snapping photos.
There are all manner of automotive competitions out there for drivers to test the potential of their vehicles. From drag racing and road racing to autocrossing and drifting, there are ways to have fun. Growing in popularity, however, are the standing mile and half-mile events where drivers can accelerate from a start and verify their vehicles’ top speed.
It’s essentially like a cars and coffee but with actual racing taking place…—Blake Hutchison, WannaGoFast
One of the promoters driving the interest in these events is WannaGoFast, which hosts half-mile racing events largely in the South, but as far north as Indiana and as far west as Texas. The first event of 2017 took place at Jumbolair Aviation Estates in Ocala, Florida, from January 21 through 22, and we dropped into see what kind of Blue Oval iron was running with the pedal to the floor.
“There are a few things that make this event so attractive,”Blake Hutchison, President of WannaGoFast, explained. “First, is the fact you get to race for a half mile which is double the distance of a standard drag race. Second, you get to race on an actual airport runway which is something we’ve all dreamed of at some point in time. Third, it’s an open-race format (we run all classes mixed throughout the day) that gives people tons of passes compared to a standard drag strip. We run cars every 40-45 seconds. Four, it’s not near as hard on the car as a drag strip, you can idle off the start line and then build up to your speed, elapsed time doesn’t count at our events. Lastly, we have cars of all makes and models and the racers are all extremely friendly. It’s essentially like a cars and coffee but with actual racing taking place…”
The VMP team kept tweaking the calibration of its two TVS-supercharged Coyotes, but both cars were running quite well on the Jumbolair strip. “They are running 160, 180 mph and they are street cars,” Justin Starkey, of VMP Performance, enthused. “It’s a blast.”
Apparently the thrill of running flat out for longer than a quarter mile appeals primarily to owners of supercars and modern muscle cars. Amongst the top-dollar rides and Brand X competitors, Coyote-powered Mustangs—primarily of the 2015 and newer variety—dominated the Ford hardware. These cars ranged from simple bolt-in combos to all-out boosted machines.
This event gives them the ability to race literally 30-40 other Mustangs and see how their build stacks up against someone else’s…—Blake Hutchison, WannaGoFast
“These events are compelling to anyone with a fast car,” Blake added. “Mustangs have been being modified since they came out in the 1960s and everyone has their take on how to make one fast. This event gives them the ability to race literally 30-40 other Mustangs and see how their build stacks up against someone else’s, not too mention basically every other make/model of car in existence today.”
While there were plenty of participants, it didn’t feel like there were quite as many Mustangs running as there were last year. However, the opportunity to see all this great hardware roaring down the airstrip at Jumbolair definitely attracted throngs of spectators, who lined up down the street to get in and see the action.
Having a great time in his ProCharged 2015 Mustang GT, Mike Marecek was running well enough to put a big smile on his face. His combo is rounded out by Texas Speed headers, a Roush cat-back, ID1000 Injectors, an upgraded fuel pump and a DiabloSport tune. “I had my C7 Corvette out two years ago. I did 141.2 in that,” he said. “I just did my first run (in the Mustang) and, with a base map to be conservative at first, we did 145.”
We like the WannaGoFast half-mile events, because it’s a different style of racing.—Justin Starkey, VMP
With staging lanes full of modded cars and a healthy crowd of spectators, it’s not surprising these events have healthy sponsor rosters. We saw both Kooks Headers & Exhaust and VMP Performance displaying and running at the event, with the later company running both of its familiar TVS-supercharged machines.
“We like the WannaGoFast half-mile events, because it’s a different style of racing. Not everybody gets to drag race. This is from a dig, but it’s got a lot of roll-racing aspects to it. The cars just have to pull a lot of mile an hour on any surface. It’s not necessarily a prepped drag strip,” Justin Starkey, of VMP Performance, said. “It challenges us as a company and we like to be challenged.”
There were several Shelby GT350s on the Jumbolair property, but one that stopped us in our tracks was Kyle Lachner’s 2017 Shelby GT350R, which wears a ProCharger P-1SC. On only 5 pounds of boost, this car was putting down 700 horsepower, but he was looking for more power and speed at Jumbolair. “We actually just did a pulley swap, so we are making around 7 ½ pounds, so we don’t know what kind of power it is making,” he said. “First past was 149 and second pass was 151 but we are having a lot of traction issues. We actually just aired down the tires to see what we can do.”
Adapting from the sure launches provided by slicks and a prepped drag strip to the uncertainty of street tires and an airplane runway was definitely a challenge for VMP driver Rebecca Starkey and her 8-second drag ’Stang.
“It’s very different,” she told us. “It’s basically against every instinct that I have. It’s basically take what I know and do the opposite, which is not comfortable for me, but we are working with it and I am doing the best I can.”
We caught this twin-turbo Boss 302 cooling in the staging lanes by itself. The Gotta Have It Green Machine ran nearly 170 mph thanks to that twice-boosted Coyote power.
And, that she did. Her car was running well at around 180 mph, but no matter how fast the cars were running, all the drivers seemed to enjoy themselves in a pretty relaxed environment that let them legally run at felony speeds.
If this kind event sounds like fun to you, WannaGoFast heads to South Florida on March 25 for its next event and you can find out more right here.
Some folks like the break their new cars in easy, especially something special like a 2017 Shelby GT350. That’s not the case for Boomer Ferguson of Tampa, Florida, who brought out his new Hummingbird out for a flight at Jumbolair. “I bought it about three weeks ago. It’s got 600 miles on it, so I am breaking it in. I got to run two passes this morning and I did 138 mph in both. The car’s still got a lot in it. As I am learning it and it’s breaking in, I think it will go a little faster—at least 145. We’ll see what happens,” he said. “The cold air is the only thing that’s been done to it so far. In fact, it’s still got the factory tune on it. I haven’t even had a chance to put an upgraded tune on it.”
While the modern Mustangs did dominate the Ford roster in Ocala, we did find this Chrome Yellow ’98 Cobra, which was clocking in the 124 mph range. It’s owner Yandro Ulloa says it puts down 800 horsepower courtesy of an On3-turbocharged Four-Valve 4.6-liter engine. He was particularly proud that the car makes that power with B heads, but he’s frustrated with the limitations of the factory PCM.