Jim Braun inherited many things from his dad: a love of cars, mechanical skill, and a passion for Mustang. When Braun was 15, his dad took him to a local eighth-mile track despite being more of a “road course guy,” and let Jim drive the family Ford Focus down the track – that’s all it took for him to become hooked on drag racing.
“I have a tendency to research a topic to death until I really understand it and then I go out and try it myself,” Jim said.
Jim began attending Test n’ Tune events after his exposure to drag racing, and he obtained a 2002 Ford Focus. Once he got a good handle on the car, he entered some of the local street car events and did reasonably well.
“Sometimes this obsession works out, and other times it becomes a learning experience that I work to perfect until I get it right,” Jim said. He added that his success with local street car events fueled his desire to modify his car and to make it faster.
Consequently, this led to a built motor in the Focus with a turbo system. It produced 454 wheel-horsepower on pump 93-octane. Jim shared while the car was fun, he struggled with the limited aftermarket driveline support and could never get it to make a clean pass on the quarter-mile.
Sometime later, Jim was waiting on a new clutch to arrive for his Focus, and his dad let him borrow his new 2012 Mustang GT. “I immediately fell in love with rear wheel drive and the power it made so effortlessly,” Jim said, adding three months later he put his Focus up for sale and began the search for a Mustang.
Jim looked at Autotrader nearly every day and eventually found what he was looking for: “I wanted a white 2012 Mustang GT with the premium interior package, wing delete, 3.73 rear gears, and a manual transmission.”
Jim and his dad flew out to Ray Skilman Ford in Indianapolis where the car was located and decided the best way to enjoy the new car would be to drive it 1,000 miles home.
“I love cars because you get to modify them and make them your own,” Jim said.
Since Jim acquired the car, he has managed to snag a personal best quarter-mile e.t. of 8.01-seconds at 178.56 mph while weighing 3,705-pounds. The car produces 1,400 horsepower and 1,174 lbs-ft of torque.
“I don’t think I want to know how much time I’ve invested in this car over the years. This is not something that I would even have a guess on as it is a continuous process. I do this because I love working on cars and challenging my abilities of what I can do.”
According to Jim the Coyote was built in his Clearwater, Florida garage and had machine work performed by his friend Joe Irwin, the owner of Fast Forward Race Engines. The stock 2011 block was deburred, and the oil passages opened up. It was cut and bored for Darton sleeves, and the Boss crank was balanced for the Manley piston and Callies Ultra Billet I-beams rod combo.
Additionally, the engine makes use of King Bearings along with ARP hardware throughout. The engine retained it’s OE cams, and the Boss cylinder heads are fitted with 1mm oversized Manley valves and PAC springs.
A set of 2,000CC injectors supply fuel with help from three Walbro 465 pumps with JMS Fuel Max to up the voltage and an Aeromotive regulator to return unneeded fuel to the stock tank. The stock throttle body has been modified to use a Vanjen clamp from Vibrant Performance, and sits affixed to a ported Boss intake manifold.
Jim fabricated the twin turbo system and runs a set of Precision PTE 6266 journal bearing turbos. His self-fabricated system makes use of a TiAL blow-off valve, TiAL MVS wastegates, and he used a Vibrant 30x11x6 core to create a custom air-to-air intercooler.
According to Jim, boost ranges from 24-32psi depending on track conditions and tuning was performed by Sai Li at Li Tuning and Racing.
The engine breathes through a set of custom 1-3/4-inch forward facing headers Jim created. “I made an all aluminum 3-inch exhaust that connects to custom 3.5-inch aluminum mufflers.”
Brett LaSala built the factory 6R80 with a billet one-way clutch, billet planetary, Exedy clutches, and billet input shaft.
Power moves to the Ford 8.8-inch rear via a 3.5-inch aluminum driveshaft from Shaftmaster and a safety loop from BMR. According to Jim, the rear contains 3.15 gears, Strange 35-spline axles, and a Strange S-Track diff.
“I welded the axle tubes and braced the rear axles, [and added a] UPR diff cover,” Jim said. The rear suspension consists of UPR adjustable upper and lower control arms, Viking Warrior rear shocks, and BMR drag springs in addition to a TRZ anti-roll bar and Panhard bar.
The front suspension consists of a set of Viking Crusader double-adjustable coilovers and Viking 200-lb front springs. Jim removed the sway bar, and makes use of UPR camber plates.
The car sits atop 17-inch Weld Alumistar wheels up front with M&H DOT 28-inch front runners and 15-inch Weld RT-S 15×10 wheels in the rear with Mickey Thompson ET Street SS for the street and 275 Radial Pro tires for the track.
Slowing down the 1,400 rear-wheel horsepower car is the stock brake calipers with EBC rotors front and back.
Jim shared the bodywork came as a result of an incident he endured while attending the NMRA spring break opener in 2017. “I had just finished putting a 10-point cage in the car the night before the event,” Jim said. During his first True Street test pass of the day a lower radiator hose came off at 130mph, which poured fluid all over the track and the Mustang’s rear tires.
Jim said the rear end became light and loose which resulted in sideswiping the wall around the 700-foot mark. “After I hit the wall I was able to keep the car away from it and slow down just past the quarter-mile mark.”
Despite hitting the wall, Jim ran a 9.2-second run at 114mph.
“I was devastated at the time, seeing my damn near perfect car in that state really brought my emotions out for how much time and work I had put in it. After removing the body panels I found out there was no real structural damage other than the front upper core support,” Jim said.
After further assessing the damage with his friends at Mikes Autobody, they agreed the damage was fixable and would still be 100-percent safe. “They did an incredible job as the car has all OEM body gaps and you cannot tell it was ever fixed,” Jim said. He added that he also took the opportunity to add a Roush front bumper and splitter, Boss rear diffuser, and Roush side skirt splitter before having it all repainted in Oxford White.
Since the car was getting repainted, Jim said he removed the engine and filled all of the OEM holes in the body panels and had it painted to match the new look of the car.
According to Jim, taking the care to give the car a distinct look when he pops the hood is one of his favorite parts of the build. “When you have another Mustang that doesn’t have the engine bay filled and painted it becomes pronounced how bad they look from the factory,” he said.
Despite all the modifications and its four-figure power output, Jim says his car drives just like a standard Mustang GT with a factory 6R80 trans on the street. “It does not have a high stall converter or anything that makes it difficult to drive. My wife has driven the car to work before and around our city with no issues at all.”
According to Jim, his most memorable drag racing win was in the 6R80 class during the Mod Nationals in 2018. Jim said the race was surreal because he felt he was an underdog in the class as the First and Second place qualifiers each went 3 to 4 tenths faster than him. During the finals with Jon Lund Sr., Jim was able to sneak out a holeshot win with 8.01 e.t. versus the competitor’s 7.88 e.t.
Jim added that when he takes it racing, the only thing he changes from the street to the track is swapping his 15-inch Weld wheels with Mickey Thompson Radial Pro’s, adding door bars to the cage, and he takes his car cover and other detailing stuff out of the trunk.
“Modifying cars is something that I’ve come to really enjoy, I constantly make changes to the car just because I want to, no reason to make these changes other than I like working on them,” Jim said. He added the other side to that is that he has met some of his closest friends because of modifying cars and drag racing, like Brett LaSala, who built his transmission.
Unlike Jim, who can recall growing up around cars and playing with parts in his dad’s Corvette shop, Brett didn’t get into cars until his dad started building a 1977 big-block Camaro when he was a teenager.
“I’ve worked at automotive shops since 2000 and started with Mercedes in 2006, I’ve always had performance cars and have been modifying them since I could drive,” Brett said.
Brett found his 2013 Ford Mustang on an SVT Performance Forum and obtained his car, known as “Snot Rocket” in January 2014. His goal from the start was to build a turbo Coyote street car.
Consequently, his twin turbo S197 puts down 1,600 rear wheel horsepower. Brett’s best quarter-mile e.t. is 7.33 at 187 mph.
Like Jim, Brett had some engine work performed by Joe Irwin of Fast Forward Racing Engines. VTC was removed from the engine but has retained its stock camshafts and makes use of stock gen-2 cylinder head castings with PAC valvesprings and Manley stainless valves.
The engine is fitted with 2,000cc injectors and utilizes triple Walbro 465’s with a Kenne Bell BAP and a Fore regulator. Additionally, a Plazmaman billet intake manifold tops the engine with a stock ported throttle body.
Brett currently holds the record for stock ECU ET/MPH, which is tuned by Sai Li of Li Tuning and Racing.
Brett’s car also features a custom twin turbo system created by Jim. It features a pair of Precision Turbo 64/66’s on 35-psi of boost with TiAL blow off valve and TiAL wastegates in addition to a custom intercooler with a Bell core.
After setting the 6R80 record at 7.70, the renowned trans builder made the switch to a PTC-built Powerglide transmission and converter. Power then moves to the Ford 8.8-inch rear with TRZ housing brace, 3.55 gears, Strange 35-spline axles, and a Strange S-Track diff.
The rear suspension consists of BMR adjustable upper and lower control arms, Viking Warrior rear shocks, and BMR Drag springs. Meanwhile, the front suspension consists of a set of Viking Crusader double-adjustable coilovers and Viking 200-pound front springs.
The car sits atop Weld wheels wrapped in MT SS street tires (for the street) and MT Pros for the track. Slowing down the 1,600 rear-wheel horsepower car is a set of Wilwood brakes up front, stock in the rear.
Like Jim, Brett filled and smoothed the engine bay himself before painting it to match the exterior stock color, Got To Have It Green.
What Brett loves the most about his car is that it is an actual street car. “All factory body panels, glass, electric steering, power brakes, A/C and Heat, full interior, but yet is still as fast as many race cars,” he said.
Brett was runner-up in his class during TX2K in 2018 and 2019. Additionally, he has won TRC Armageddon and Street Car Takeover.
Brett and Jim each enjoy participating in street car style events and classes. “Living in Florida we have racing nearly 12 months out of the year. This allows us to have a ton of events all the time,” Jim said, adding he typically participates in FL2k, Streetcar Takeover, TX2K, TRC StreetKings, and ModNationals.
“Snot Rocket has had a few combos, engine, turbo setup, and now transmission. It has been a constant evolution from the day I bought it. My goals are to attend as many streetcar races as possible” Brett said.