Our Five Favorite Terminators From The 2021 Mod Nationals

When it comes to New Edge Mustangs, there are two years that reign supreme: 2003 and 2004. In these two years the Mustang Cobra became another icon in the Mustang lineup. It came equipped with a factory supercharger and serious potential. It wasn’t long after the car’s release that enthusiasts were able to crank out 500 rear wheel horsepower from bolt-ons; this earned the car the nomenclature, Terminator. Eighteen years later and we’ve seen the car become a well purposed platform. Each year these owners meet at the Mod Nationals in Georgia to further push the envelope of Modular performance, and we scoured the show to find our five favorite Terminators.

Dave ‘The Machine’ Short’s Silver Bullet

Dave Short is nothing short of amazing when it comes to consistency. The other drivers even nicknamed him “The Machine,” as his driving is consistent even with limited track time. His Cobra had only been on the track four times before Mod Nationals, but where he lacks seat time at the track, he fully makes up for on social media exposure.

mod nationals

Short’s social media presence led him to garner the attention of Dustin Whipple. “Due to my constant social media hype and results, Dustin kind of knew me and wanted me to be the stock long-block rep for the Whipple Gen 4,” said Short. Short’s factory stock block holds the supercharger’s pressure, even with no aftermarket oil pump gears or studs a true testament to the fortitude of the Modular engine. The engine is even tuned via the factory ECM. A full Fore return-style fuel system keeps the engine fed. To keep the power planted, the rear was converted to solid axle and upgraded with UPR front and rear suspension, paired with Viking coilovers.

Short has made a name for himself and continues to be a strong contender for the title of fastest factory-sealed, long-block, blower only, stick shift Terminator. However, that record shattering run he’s gunning for will have to wait. A DIY cold air intake mod, aka removed headlight, caused a lean out situation from his MAF at the Mod Nationals. We look forward to seeing what Short’s Cobra combined with his driving ability, can do at the 2022 Texas Streetcar Showdown.

Zach Yasko’s 2003 10th Anniversary Cobra

When it comes to Team Last Minute, Zach Yasko may be the captain.

“This car was completely untested coming into the Mod Nationals on the new Holley EFI. We had just finished remote tuning on the street three days prior,” Yasko tells of the pre-race thrash. “We also knew the clutch was tired from two seasons of participating in the Rocky Mountain Race Week, so, we pulled the transmission and clutch, then replaced the disc to help get more life out of it.”

“Our goal was to run an 8-second pass. We got close on Friday night, but found the car pulled timing due to the IAT after the 1/8-mile. We knew it had the 8-second pass in it. After some clutch adjustments, we were able to knock out an 8.88 in the first round of eliminations,” said Yasko. “Unfortunately the clutch still came to get me. The car crept forward at the line and lit up the red bulb.”

Yasko is no novice to racing his 2003 Cobra won the Rocky Mountain Race Week Stick Shift Class in 2021. He currently holds the record for the fastest factory-sealed, long-block with blower, and stick shift. His setup consists of a Whipple Gen 5 3.0L mounted atop the engine. A Tremec T56 Magnum sits behind the engine with a McLeod RXT1200 between the two. A solid axle conversion combined with Strange shocks on all four corners allows his 3400 pound Cobra to cut a 1.25-second 60-foot time.

Dan Watts’ Yellow Bird Express

What happens when a tried-and-true Ford Lightning owner turns in the single cab for a life of Cobras? Well, you get Dan Watts. Watts had owned four Lightnings before making the switch in 2011 to the Cobra platform. His Zinc Yellow Cobra has been a regular at the Mod Nationals ever since.

Mod Nationals

Dan Watts’ Cobra with a hard launch at Mod Nationals 2021!

“In 2019, I was picked up by Whipple Superchargers and was tasked with one of the first Gen 5 3.0L twin-screw superchargers off the shelf. I was to debut it at that year’s Mod Nationals race. They actually overnighted the Gen 5 on a Monday, we installed on Tuesday, and left Wednesday morning for Georgia,” said Watts. “The setup was completely untested and It was crazy at the time, but what an awesome opportunity they have provided.”

What an opportunity indeed, because in 2019 they were able to best the long-standing blower-only with factory IRS record. The legendary 9.70-second 1/4-mile record fell to Watt’s 9.25-second pass. At the 2021 Mod Nationals Watts took it a step further and piloted his cobra to a 9.10 to end the season.

Watts relies on a host of top quality parts to keep breaking the record. The Whipple 3.0L maintained its position over the years, however the car has seen a lot of developments to chop down the times. A built engine with a Kellogg crank, Molnar rods, Wiseco pistons, and Comp Camshafts have replaced the factory pieces. A Cometic MLX head gasket combined with ARP hardware keeps all fluids internal. To attack the stick shift portion of the title, a D&D T56 Magnum with a Mantic clutch pushes the power towards a set of GForce 1320 axles.

Jeff Smith’s Competition Orange Pumpkin

When it comes to colors, Competition Orange is not necessarily the first thought that comes to mind when you think of speed. The color seems as docile as a pumpkin. However, throw that pumpkin with the velocity of a supercharged Cobra running 24 psi of boost and suddenly things change!

Mod Nationals

Orange is the new fast.

Smith is well accustomed to throwing his pumpkin down the drag strip; since he bought it from the second owner in 2012 the car has been a test-bed for Whipple. It has had a Gen 3 2.9L, Gen 4 2.9L, and finally the Gen 5 3.0L placed on top of the built engine. While superchargers have changed, the internals have remained the same, with Molnar Rods, JE Pistons, and Comp Cams, all assembled by Advanced Cylinder Heads. A Holley HP ECU with Pro Dash keeps everything working in unison. Smith decided to keep the factory IRS and utilized a catalog of Maximum Motorsports parts to support it. A Tremec T56 mates with a Mcleod RXT1200 HD clutch. At that point, a Driveshaft Shop carbon-fiber driveshaft and Level 5 halfshafts make sure the power is transmitted to the rearend.

While the color of a car doesn’t make a difference, Smith’s driving ability does. He won the NMRA Stick Shift Shootout in 2013 and 2016. Before attending the Mod Nationals, he won the 352 Shootout Street Stick class as well. So remember, docile colors are probably hiding a larger truth.

Bryan ‘The Crane Train’ Crane’s Stick Shift Superiority

When it comes to being ‘Top Dog’ in the battle for stick-shift Cobra superiority, there are only a few names in the hat. In the past few years we’ve seen this crown get passed around like an inexpensive Fox Body on Craigslist. At the 2021 Mod Nationals, Bryan Crane reclaimed his throne. He also managed to knock off another record in the process.

mod nationals

Crane chopped down the 2003-2004 Cobra stick shift and blower record with a 8.51-second 1/4-mile pass; this beats the previous record of 8.56, held by Alaskan Allen Garrett. While in the process of making this record-breaking run, he also beat Billet Pro Shop’s GT500 record of an 8.53. This means Crane took home the belt for fastest stick shift Modular engine equipped Mustang record as well.

Crane’s setup at the time of the Mod Nationals was a Whipple Gen 5 3.0L mounted to a Modular Head Shop built 4.6L engine with ported heads and Modular Head Shop’s Stage 4 camshafts. A Holley EFI stand-alone controls the engine and makes sure it receives its healthy dosage of Ignite Racing Fuel E-90. The power is transferred from the engine to the faceplated T-56 Magnum via a Black Magic clutch. The rear is equipped with a solid axle and Strange 35-spline components. Team Z Motorsports suspension makes sure the car tracks straight.

Now that Mod Nationals is finished, Crane is sorting out a new build. The factory front end was replaced with a Team Z Motorsports tubular front end. The once prevalent supercharger was replaced by a Pure Performance custom turbo kit, sporting a Precision 91mm Pro Mod turbo and Chiseled A2W intercooler. The car is set to make its maiden voyage at the 2022 Street Car Takeover in Bradenton, Florida.

Modular’s Not Dead

As you can tell the Modular engine is still alive and doing well, and the 2003-2004 Mustang Cobra owners still hold the beloved engine in their hearts. As technology continues to push the envelope of performance, drivers equally push their driving abilities We hope to see more of these records shattered in the 2022 racing season, and perhaps some new challengers to rise up and join the party.

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About the author

James Elkins

Born into a household of motorsport lovers, James learned that wrenching takes priority over broken skin and damaged nerves. Passions include fixing previous owners’ mistakes, writing, and driving.
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