If you’ve been to any radial tire races in the Eastern United States over the last handful of seasons, chances are you’ve seen the striking 1993 Ford Mustang LX campaigned by Ohio native Shawn Pevlor. The flamed Fox is arguably one of the most well-traveled machines in all of small-tire racing — Shawn having campaigned it in Outlaw 8.5, MX235, Ultra Street, and Nitrous X at one time or another. Or, as has been the case on numerous weekends, in two of those categories on the same weekend.
The Cincinnati native’s story, interestingly, doesn’t begin like so many of his counterparts in the straight-line world. He didn’t grow up around cars, didn’t go racing when he received a driver’s license, didn’t have the automotive hobby passed down from previous generations, and admits he isn’t really sure how or why he became a “Blue Oval” man. But he’s come a long way since entering the sport, and these days, he’s neck-deep in drag racing.
Shawn, a bricklayer by trade at Accurate Masonry in Cincinnati, actually traces his roots in racing back to two wheels, in the ever-dangerous sport of dirt track motorcycle racing.
“Growing up, I rode dirt bikes and things like that. I started dating this girl in my early-20s, and her brother raced AMA Pro flat track. He got me started in that — I got my AMA license and started competing in flat track and speedway bike races. That’s really where I got my start in racing, but later on, a lot of my buddies had Mustangs and they’d be out fooling around on the street, really making a competition out of it to see who had the quickest car. We all started going to the race track, and that’s really where this all began,” he says.
When I got the car, it had a turbo motor. The funny thing was, the engine that was in it was actually the same one out of the 2000 body I’d owned a few years earlier. – Shawn Pevlor
After selling the 2000 and taking a couple of years away from tinkering, he bought another 1989 model Fox project and a pile of parts to finish it, going 10’s on the motor alone.
“I’ve always had Mustangs from day one — my race cars, my pickup trucks, everything,” Shawn explains.
In 2007, after selling the most recent Pony in his stable, Shawn traded a friend a Harley-Davidson and some cash for the car that’s become so familiar in drag racing circles, which was still in the process of being built at the time.
“He wanted to get rid of it, so we made a trade,” he explains. “When I got the car, it had a turbo motor. The funny thing was, the engine that was in it was actually the same one out of the 2000 body I’d owned a few years earlier. It had worked it’s way through everyone’s hands and eventually back to me.”
Shawn says that, at the time, he had no desire or interest to go drag racing, instead intending this latest project — or ‘basket case’ as he puts it — to be another potent street car. The car had a full-blown turbo combination (a 347 with an 88 mm Garrett turbo and a Powerglide) that he admits was a little over his head at the time.
“This car had everything, and they were planning on going Outlaw 8.5 racing with it when I got it. A buddy of mine had a nitrous engine, and I didn’t know anything about fuel injection, or computers, or even how to operate that stuff, so I traded the entire drivetrain for this nitrous motor. That’s pretty well where it all got started.”
In 2010, Shawn entered the car in a Fastest Street Car Shootout at nearby at Tri-State Dragway in Hamilton, Ohio, where the car had to be successfully driven 50 miles in a cruise before racing heads-up. He promptly won that race, going 9.40s on the motor, and says things got completely out of hand after that. “A week later,” he says, “we’d hooked the nitrous up and we were spraying the shit out of it.”
A buddy of mine had a nitrous engine, and I didn’t know anything about fuel injection, or computers, or even how to operate that stuff, so I traded the entire drivetrain for this nitrous motor. – Shawn Pevlor
Shawn competed in his first Ultra Street race at the Kil-Kare Dragway in Ohio in 2012. The car was jetted-up, a nitrous controller added, and radials bolted on, and he went a career-best 5.10. A few weeks later they went to South Georgia for one of Donald Long’s events and went 5.09, then made some changes in the offseason and returned to Georgia, where they made their first 4-second pass with a then-class record 4.95. Since then, the combination has been completely upgraded and refined, including a new powerplant from Bischoff. “Back when we started, we didn’t know anything. We were just throwing things at the wall and seeing what would stick,” Shawn says.
The Ford small-block powerplant that is in the car now, measuring 348 cubic inches, was built by esteemed engine builder Tony Bischoff at BES Racing Engines. Bischoff’s team has utilized a Callies crankshaft and rods, Ross pistons, and a custom BES cam to complete the short-block, and topped it with Trick Flow high-port heads with T&D shaft mount rockers, a BES-ported CHI 4.0 intake, and a 4150 four-barrel carburetor from Book Racing Engines. A custom Kevin Neal-prepared plate nitrous system then delivers the extra power required to punch into the 4-second zone on the 275 drag radials.
Shawn uses an Extreme Automatic two-speed Turbo 400 prepared by Lonnie Diers and both Bradco and Ultimate Converter Concepts torque converters, depending on the class. The transmission is shifted by a B&M Pro Bandit. Power is transferred via a PST driveshaft back to an 8.8 rear housing with an S&M Motorsport custom lightened third member and a set of Moser axles.
Rob Lewis of Rogue Race Cars built the 25.2 chassis that uses suspension components from TRZ Motorsports (K-member and A-arms up front, rear control arm and anti-roll bar in the rear), Menscer Motorsports (custom valved shocks and struts), Wilwood (front brakes), and Strange Engineering (rear brakes). Shawn uses Weld Racing Alumustar wheels, and switches between Hoosier 275 radials for Ultra Street and Mickey Thompson 275 Radial Pro tires for Nitrous X duty.
To date, Shawn’s LX is the quickest nitrous car in Ultra Street with a 4.85 at 145 mph, and has been 4.76 at 147 mph in Nitrous X. With the backing of Menacer Motorsports, Salvato Designs, Trick Flow, VP Racing Fuels, and countless others. Along with the support of crew members Jason “Cheeseburger” Waterman, Dean Vaughn, Eric Mitchell, Denny Staley, girlfriend Colleen Griffin, and her daughter Olivia, Shawn has captured more than his share of accolades in a relatively short time in radial racing.
In addition to the records already mentioned, Shawn has held the MX235 record (with a 4.92), doubled-up at the Small Block Nationals in Mooresville in 2014 (in Stock Valve Angle and Nitrous X), and nearly doubled at No Mercy V that same year, winning Ultra Street and ending runner-up in Nitrous X. He also won the inaugural Ohio Valley Prize Fight in Kentucky in Ultra, along with the Shakedown Nationals in Norwalk. In all, he won the last six races he attended in 2014, capping off a dominating season.
Not content with his success and role as a back-breaker in Ultra Street and Nitrous X, however, Shawn shares that he currently has an X275 car, a 1989 Mustang, under construction at Rogue Race Cars, that will sport a Bischoff-built small-block with a fogger. When this car will make its debut is still up in the air. But in the meantime, he and his crew plan to continue wearing out their competition in Ultra and Nitrous X with this angry pony.
With so much success already, including a weekend double, the only question that really remains is, can Shawn and his team win three classes in a weekend?