Chris Matters’ Saleen Mustang Is The Quickest Modular In X275

Chris Matters is the owner of FastMover Motorsports and this infamous Red Saleen radial car. Chris’ interest in racing started in high school after attending a local street car night at Maryland International Raceway one Friday night.

A few years into college he made his first jump on the track. His first car was a 1986 Mustang GT, which he used to cut his teeth in racing. After graduating from college he continued his love for the sport by getting into the sport-compact scene with his V6-powered SVT Contour. This was also the year Chris turned his love and education into a skill, as Chris stepped into the announcer booth at the famed MIR tower.


(Photo Credit: Brian Petrie)

Speedlab Racer

Just two years after that, he returned to the track with a Saleen S281, #02-350. The quest for more power led Chris to sell that one and buy his current steed, a 2006 Saleen S281 S/C, #06-517. Chris immediately saw instant results with his supercharged S197 Mustang. Wearing a full Saleen road race suspension, 14-inch brakes and 20-inch wheels, Chris’ ’Stang was able to run a best e.t. of 12.417 in 100-percent factory trim just two days after it drove out of the showroom.

Communications with representatives at Saleen informed Chris of the impending launch of Saleen Speedlab, which Chris was given the opportunity to be a part of. Chosen as a team driver Chris prepared the car for action in the Ultra ’Stang class in the Fun Ford Weekend series in 2007. With minor upgrades to the exhaust, air intake/mass air meter combo, fuel system and a smaller supercharger pulley, a spin on the Dynojet yielded the Saleen 484 rear-wheel horsepower. Chris showed up in Orlando ready to prove that Saleen didn’t make a mistake by selecting him.

The generation gap in appearances from its original drag set up to its current condition running X275 and NMRA Street Outlaw. Chris wanted the car to keep the integrity of the Saleen style and design as much as possible.

After qualifying the car in the top half of the field, Chris made his way thru the field ultimately pitting himself in the finals against a Florida local with quite a racing résumé. Chris gained the advantage off the starting line and ran down his opponent to take the strip for the first national win for Saleen Speedlab!

Chris and his Saleen eventually appeared on the 2007 “Pinks All Out” from episode MIR, the car was been twice in the now-defunct 5.0 Mustang and Super Fords magazine as part of technical articles, and appeared in Muscle Mustang & Fast Fords in 2008 after Chris’ return to the FFW series season opener. At this point, the Mustang had run as quick as 10.79 at 126 miles per hour before the stock engine let go.

I started to realize the potential of what the Saleen could become, so I pulled the trigger. — Chris Matters

“I was very proud of what I was able accomplish in such a short amount of time,” said Chris, who wanted a complete change and had a need to go much faster. “I started to realize the potential of what the Saleen could become, so I pulled the trigger.”

No expense was spared building the current version from its original form. Wanting to buck the trend and stay with the modular powerplant, Chris set out on a mission to build one of the most extreme power plants you can find. Chris made the call to JPC Racing knowing only a single call was required.

The 5.4-liter Mod Motor has a reputation for supporting serious steam. Some of these engines have produced in excess of 2,500 horsepower. These engines were also used in the 2006 Ford GT, which made them highly desirable and successful. Chris' Saleen is currently, the quickest and fastest Mod Motor-powered car in x275 competition.

Building A Better Bullet

Chris sent an original Ford GT 5.4-liter block to Rich Groh of RGR Engines as the basis for the Saleen’s X275 powerplant.  The end result was an 11.5:1 modular motor fed by the X275 class-spec, mid-frame, 85 mm Precision turbocharger boosting the monster sheetmetal intake through an Accufab 90mm throttle body. PTE rounds out the combo with its 66mm wastegate and 64mm blow-off valve.

Meanwhile, a set of parts that would rival any Top Fuel engine — a billet Windberg crankshaft, CP pistons, and custom Crower rods —upgraded the bottom end. Rich performed all the machine work on the block, including new sleeves. He also added a five-stage dry sump oil system.

Atop the robust short-block, Rich added Ford Performance FR500 cylinder heads fitted with custom Bullet cams, a custom RGR Jesel valvetrain and Ferrea valves held in place by a set of PAC Springs. Accufab supplied the components, including chains and guides that sling the valve train around at 10,000 RPM.

HPL lubricants keeps everything inside happy and a Weldon fuel pump feeds this 333-cubic-inch Mod Motor through an Aeromotive pressure regulator and PTE 225 pound per hour injectors. A new Gen4 Big Stuff 3 engine management system, tuned exclusively by Kevin Fiscus, runs the show. It features a self-contained boost controller as well as the traction control system.


Rounding out the engine assembly is an NHRA-approved engine and transmission blanket from DJ Safety, and a custom set of headers made by DC performance with 5-inch turbo piping. It’s safe to say, this engine pushes 2,000 horsepower, which is insane for a combo with a factory block and cylinder heads. This one truly lives up to the Saleen Motto “Power in the Hands of a Few!”

To survive behind the potent modular, Jason Gatlin of ATF Speed built a custom Turbo 400 three-speed transmission and converter. ATF Speed also added a Precision shifter, a Pro Fab Performance transmission cooler, and a carbon fiber driveshaft from The Driveshaft Shop. Chris wanted the suspension and chassis components to remain in their factory locations so the car remained legal for X275 racing.

Prepping The Chassis

He sent the car off to Drummond Race Cars for an SFI 25.3-spec roll cage, which is good to 6.50 e.t.’s in the quarter mile. From there, all the suspension components were upgraded, one of the most critical areas to get right on any drag radial car, including an AA Performance K-member and A-arms up; billet ATF motor plates; and a TRZ Motorsports steering rack. Menscer Motorsport provided the dampers assemblies, while the rear suspension sports a Racecraft double-adjustable upper control arm, TRZ lower control arms, a TRZ anti-roll bar, and a Drummond Race Cars wishbone.

X275 Saleen Specs

Brakes: Baer Brakes SS 4 Drag system, front and rear

Chassis: Drummond RaceCars-built 25.3 SFI Chassis

Engine: RGR-built Ford GT 5.4-liter aluminum block w/ dry-sump oiling

Engine Management: BIG STUFF3 Gen4 ECU w/ integrated boost and traction control

Rearend: Tim McAmmis 9-inch

Tires: Mickey Thompson Tires 15×4.5 front runners (front) and 275x50x15 drag radials (rear)

Feather Carbon body parts

Transmission: ATF Speed TH400 three-speed

Wheels: HoleShot Wheels, Spindle mount Revolvers 15×4.5 (front) and  HoleShot Wheels Revolvers 15×12 w/ Champion beadlocks (rear)

The rear end is a full floater Ford 9-inch crafted by Tim McAmis race cars with a Strange Ultra spool; 40-spline, gun-drilled axles; and a 3.70 gear set. This is the same type of rearend used in Pro Mods with 4,000 horsepower!

The exterior of the car resembles its original Saleen form from 2006 but with a few exceptions. The hood, doors, fenders, deck lid, mini-tubs, rear floors are all constructed of carbon fiber, created by Feather Carbon. After the final fit and finish, Loco Graphics hooked the car up with a custom wrap to retain the original look and color. In addition to that, the racecraft wing and dual parachutes from DJ Safety round out the look and function for 220+ mph blasts.

You always need a good set of wheels and tires to compliment any car. Chris opted for a set of Holeshot Revolvers with double bead-locked rears wrapped in Mickey Thompson rubbers on all fours. Stopping power is provided by Baer racing SS4+ drag brakes. The inside of the car remains much like it was from factory, too include the hand sign dash from Steve Saleen. In addition to the SFI 25.3 roll cage, a dual halon fire system was added to include all other NHRA safety requirements.

The Racepak Dash is mounted in the factory consul and the smartwire switches overhead control the functions. Troy at Racewires installed the custom wiring and kept it so clean, you would hardly know all the electronics even exist. A full complement of Racepak data systems boasts almost every sensor you can squeeze onto a car, after all, knowledge is power.

With all of that information at hand, FastMover Motorsports competes in the X275 drag radial class, as well as the NMRA/NMCA Street Outlaw classes. Multi-time World Champion Kevin Fiscus is in the driver seat, as Chris focuses on his personal businesses and duties in the Naval Reserve.


Race Ready

In the past, Chris was the main event announcer at all the major events at MDIR, and traveled as the official announcer for the Pritchett Brothers Racing Ultimate Outlaws Shootout series, Donald Long’s Radial Revolution and the Holcomb Ford Civil Wars. With the entire team at Fiscus Klugger Racing on board the team will be a force to reckon with at all the national events. Kevin, Josh, Steve, Johnny “Drama” and “White” Ronnie have the car running up front!

I really believe we be in the low 4.40 range come this October at No Mercy 8. — Chris Matters

Recently he debuted the car at Donald Long’s Lights Out 8, Cash is King. The car performed well, running a best 4.510 at 161.65 and qualified thirteenth in a field of over 65 cars at one of the most competitive races in the country, making it the current X275 record holder for a modular-powered car.

“I really believe we be in the low 4.40 range come this October at No Mercy 8,” Chris predicted.

“All glory to God and special thanks to my wife Cynthia and my boys Landon and Caleb for allowing me to chase my dream…” Chris concluded. “…There was no feeling like going out first round and setting the world record! I could not have done it without every person who had a hand in this!”

Photo gallery


About the author

Eddie Maloney

A resident of Las Vegas, Eddie has been involved in drag racing most of his life. Currently an NHRA tech and photographer, he has served 17 years in the military.
Read My Articles

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