Project Vintage Race Mustang: What Does It Take to Go Vintage Racing?

Tim
Update by Tim Suddard to the Ford Mustang Fastback project car
Nov 17, 2020

Why is there a vintage Mustang project in Grassroots Motorsports? Because here’s a cool, fun way to get on track–and in something that’s fairly fast and intoxicating. (Hey, there's something about a small-block Ford singing at full chat.)

For years we’ve gotten a funny feeling every time we see a pack of old Shelby Mustangs at an HSR race. So, we dug deeper.

In HSR, most Mustangs run in Group 5 with E-types, Cobras and Corvettes. The Group 5 rules are pretty wide open, and the players there are really serious. If you want to run at the front of the pack in Group 5, then you need to bring your checkbook: Investment in these cars can easily run into six figures and looks something like this: 

We had no desire to spend that kind of money–not sure that we need a carbon fiber driveshaft to run vintage–nor did we want to spend less and build an uncompetitive car. But we found what almost looks like a loophole in the HSR rules: Certain mildly modified early Mustangs are allowed to run in Group 3, the usual home to 2.0-liter Porsches, Corvairs, MGs and Triumphs. We always say that it is more fun (and safer) to run a fast car in a slow group than to run a slow car in a fast group.

This class, called Vintage A-Sedan (Group 3/VAS), includes 1965-’70 Mustangs and 1967-’70 Mercury Cougars fitted with either small- or big-block engines. There are no weight penalties if you run a 289-cubic-inch engine. Starting with a 302-cubic-inch engine, however, adds a 100-pound weight penalty.

The rules require iron blocks and iron heads with a maximum overbore of 0.060 inch. Internal engine components are free as long as they are made from the same materials as stock. A four-speed Top-Loader or T-10 transmission is also required. As these transmissions are known to lock up in racing situations, a super T-10 transmission is allowed.

Brakes are limited to stock or near stock. Suspensions are relatively free, although remote-reservoir shock absorbers or coil-overs are expressly prohibited.

Body modifications are very limited. While you can run a Shelby R-model front apron and a plastic windshield, other than the hood, all body panels need to be steel and unmodified. So something kinda like this:

While still not a cheap date, building a car to these specs would not break our budget. With some swap meet negotiation, we could build this car for well under $50,000. And a car like this will turn lap times at Road Atlanta in the 1:40 range. At VIR we would expect lap times in the 2:10 range–about 5 seconds per lap faster than a top Spec Miata.

More to come very soon. 

 

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Comments
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759NRNG (Forum Partidario)
759NRNG (Forum Partidario) UltraDork
11/17/20 10:41 a.m.

Is this gonna take you away from the Elva MK VI ?  Yes I'll be following along....

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
11/17/20 10:51 a.m.

Very cool can't wait to see what you do

Being contrary I'd argue that if someone took a challenge approach to the car that it could be built for Spec Miata money.  This is a known recipe and so one could spend time combing various websites for deals on the most expensive parts.

 

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/17/20 11:43 a.m.
Tom1200 said:

Very cool can't wait to see what you do

Being contrary I'd argue that if someone took a challenge approach to the car that it could be built for Spec Miata money.  This is a known recipe and so one could spend time combing various websites for deals on the most expensive parts.

 

IMHO, the article series that Tim is starting can very much show how that is done on- the Mustang isn't the only one that has limited rule sets that define what can be done.  The key to the overall budget will be the rarity of the car- like a competitive AS Porsche vs. a BS Alfa vs a CS Mini- using the same rule set allowances- the costs will be very different.  And each can be very competitive.

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
11/17/20 12:36 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver (Forum Supporter) :

While my post may not sound like it we are on the same page. 

As I'm running a C-sedan car in with C & B-sedan group I'm keenly aware of the money spent on these cars.  My thought is that given the 15-20K plus people are spending on professionally built engines that someone like Tim could assemble a SBF for way less money..................or not.

Red5
Red5 New Reader
11/17/20 1:03 p.m.

Love this!

MarkLewis
MarkLewis
11/17/20 3:35 p.m.

Looking forward to this Mustang build.

stukndapast
stukndapast Reader
11/17/20 5:29 p.m.

I really look forward to this build.  This is actually what I wanted to do before I went down the path that I am currently on where I have run my 85.5 Mustang SVO in SSB/Group 3 with HSR and MP2/Group 12b with SVRA.  My very first car was a '65 Mustang with a 289 that I naturally hot-rodded and wrecked and I've always wanted to revisit that time of life, this time with a little more life experience.  A VAS car is totally cool, and with the restrictions placed by the sanctioning bodies can be very cost effective.  My holy grail would be to campaign a '69 Boss 302 but as you point out the allowances made for HSR group 5 historic Trans Am can really bump up the cost to build such an animal.  My SVO effort has been interesting and rewarding, I have learned a lot about turbo lag and how to drive a car with a very non-linear power curve, but I do miss a V-8 at full song.  I do hope to see you in my group at an event in the future though!!!

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
11/17/20 9:44 p.m.

I'm excited about the series because I feel like so many people think you need mega dollars to compete in vintage races when it is possible to do at a reasonable cost.

On a sidenote I'm moving to my formula car because it is more economical to run over a heavily modified production car. The engine & gearbox costs in production cars can be rather ferocious.

Daniel Wise
Daniel Wise
11/18/20 12:19 a.m.

I crewed for a friend with a production car years ago and spent much of a summer laying on my back replacing production parts not suited to racing.  He burned buckets of money buying tires, brakes and transmissions.

Like Tom1200 I'm racing a Formula Ford.  Close racing with great people at a performance level of a very quick Corvette.  Much lower cost of operation, easier to service and performance of far more expensive machinery.  Cost of admission from $10K to 20K for '73-81, up to 30K for a '72 and earlier.  All are competitive with treaded tires.  We get 30 to 50 cars here on the west coast.  Fun all the way through the grid, there is always someone to race with.

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
11/18/20 10:57 a.m.

In reply to Daniel Wise :

I think the GRM crew will manage to make it reliable. The other bonus is being you can buy everything from Jegs or Summit. I actually looked at parts and a new Super T10 trans is 2K, heads are $700, roller rockers are $300, forged cranks are $400, the rules noted a single 4 barrel carb, the rear disc brake kit is $600 and so there doesn't appear to be anything totally outrageous price wise.

For some folks only a V8 will do and so I'm very interested to see how the GRM Mustang turns out.

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
11/18/20 11:56 a.m.
Tom1200 said:

I'm excited about the series because I feel like so many people think you need mega dollars to compete in vintage races when it is possible to do at a reasonable cost.

On a sidenote I'm moving to my formula car because it is more economical to run over a heavily modified production car. The engine & gearbox costs in production cars can be rather ferocious.

Production engines can be affordable and durable if••••you stay within the limits of the parts.  I raced my 3.8 Jaguar engine for decades. But I kept it under 6,000 rpm except for brief moments on rare occasions. And I dealt with weakness all production engines have while racing of sticky race rubber. That is oil surge.  
  A dry sump is required for durability. It doesn't make any extra horsepower but it keeps oil at proper pressure in wheel to wheel racing. Nothing else does. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
11/18/20 1:41 p.m.

The class they intend to run in doesn't allow a dry sump system. I'm sure there is an off the self solution for SBFs, the rules do allow an Accusump.

I've run my Datsun for 30 years with nothing more than a baffled pan with no issue whatsoever.

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
11/18/20 2:38 p.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

In 1954 Jaguar found out that oil surge was causing short bearing life. Those cars had 5 inch wide tires that often lasted the whole 24 hour race.  Since then no factory race car failed to have a dry sump system. 
 

An Accusump is not a real solution. While it supplies oil when the pickup goes dry some goes out the intake and some gets pumped up to the bearings but once emptied  and assuming oil has gotten back to the pick up the oil will be pumped back into the accusump  as well as to the engine. Just increasing the time the engine is operating at less than full pressure. 
In long corners where the oil slides up the front or sides of the motor. The pickup will remain uncovered  often while full power is required. 
 

Baffles will work if the pan is deep enough and short enough. Few powerful engines  a will survive.  There are methods to put multiple pumps inside a pan and create the appearance of not having a dry sump. 

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie HalfDork
11/18/20 2:51 p.m.

Running a 25 year old Miata in a vintage group is cheaper than running a V8 anything. 

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/18/20 3:10 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

A better solution- stop pretending Jags of any type are representative of all cars out there.  Just because your engine has oiling problems does not mean every other one does, including V8s' that are more powerful.

I'm going to wager a bet that this AS car will be both competitive and reasonably priced to build w/o a dry sump.

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
11/18/20 3:45 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver (Forum Supporter) :

I use Jaguar  because I'm familiar with them. I also raced a well baffled Corvette that couldn't finish  a SCCA regional event at full song without a dry sump. 
 Listening to Champ car and LeMons racers I don't believe any of the Chevy V8 powered cars have won a race. ( to be fair I haven't checked every race but that seems to be accepted practice). 
          
      I suspect nearly any car if driven gently enough should be able to last for several events. I've seen plenty of drivers do that.  My 54 hp MG which has a 5000 rpm red line and I've never exceeded it.  Has a very deep sump holding a lot of oil. Effectively providing much the benefit of a dry sump. Is plenty durable.   So I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions. 
 

But if your oil pressure is lower at the end of a race than early during the race.  And you find a frequent need to refresh it, You might address oil surge.  
      

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie HalfDork
11/18/20 3:46 p.m.

MGBs, Midgets and Spitfires seem to be everywhere and ratty ones that could be racecar fodder are cheap. Old Mustangs and Camaros seem to be a lot more expensive and attractive to collectors. 

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
11/18/20 3:48 p.m.

In reply to Snowdoggie :

Well said.  They do command a real premium. 

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
11/18/20 3:53 p.m.
Daniel Wise said:

I crewed for a friend with a production car years ago and spent much of a summer laying on my back replacing production parts not suited to racing.  He burned buckets of money buying tires, brakes and transmissions.

Like Tom1200 I'm racing a Formula Ford.  Close racing with great people at a performance level of a very quick Corvette.  Much lower cost of operation, easier to service and performance of far more expensive machinery.  Cost of admission from $10K to 20K for '73-81, up to 30K for a '72 and earlier.  All are competitive with treaded tires.  We get 30 to 50 cars here on the west coast.  Fun all the way through the grid, there is always someone to race with.

Actually I think a Formula Ford can be Faster than all but the top Corvette, Cobra, or XKE. And definitely cheaper to race.  
 Aside from that making suspension or tuning changes is massively easier on a Formula Ford over the Corvette, Cobra, or XKE 

CrustyRedXpress (Forum Supporter)
CrustyRedXpress (Forum Supporter) Reader
11/18/20 4:01 p.m.
759NRNG (Forum Partidario) said:

Is this gonna take you away from the Elva MK VI ?  Yes I'll be following along....

Same! Looking foreward to a vintage stang but for some reason I'm a sucker for that Elva.

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
11/18/20 4:05 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver (Forum Supporter) :

I'm also willing to bet the car will be fine without a dry sump, since the rules don't allow it, but more importantly I see lots of SBF power cars without dry sumps and they always seem to finish nor do I recall them going kablamo. 

Don't ask me why I'm so interested in this series but I really am.......Tim needs to hurry up and finish it as I have no patience.

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie HalfDork
11/18/20 4:12 p.m.
frenchyd said:

In reply to Snowdoggie :

Well said.  They do command a real premium. 

My neighbor has four of them right now and a shell for another 67 Camaro. They day that landed in his front yard people were making unsolicited offers for it. All for stupid money. I know of two MG Midgets in the area that could be had for less than $500. One actually runs. You would probably have to dump about 10K into one to make it a proper racecar but that is still cheap compared to what else is out there.  

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
11/18/20 4:16 p.m.
CrustyRedXpress (Forum Supporter) said:
759NRNG (Forum Partidario) said:

Is this gonna take you away from the Elva MK VI ?  Yes I'll be following along....

Same! Looking foreward to a vintage stang but for some reason I'm a sucker for that Elva.

I agree with you. That Elva tickles me. Maybe because I believe I saw that race at the Met Stadium in Bloomington at the first Sports car race I ever attended.  

759NRNG (Forum Partidario)
759NRNG (Forum Partidario) UltraDork
11/18/20 6:26 p.m.
CrustyRedXpress (Forum Supporter) said:
759NRNG (Forum Partidario) said:

Is this gonna take you away from the Elva MK VI ?  Yes I'll be following along....

Same! Looking foreward to a vintage stang but for some reason I'm a sucker for that Elva.

thanks y'all for the interest into a hmmm truly "vintage" piece of racing heritage/barnfind...that Tim seems to be pursuing with the prerequisite "all hands on deck"....late

Granet
Granet New Reader
11/18/20 11:20 p.m.

This is the coolest project yet, really keen to follow along. 

maj75 (Forum Supporter)
maj75 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
11/19/20 7:16 a.m.

Buying a good one already built is always cheaper.

jerrysarcastic (Forum Supporter)
jerrysarcastic (Forum Supporter) Reader
11/19/20 6:38 p.m.

Count me in! Can’t wait to see how you corner weigh a car with traditional leaf/coil springs. ;)

seriously though, I’m looking forward to seeing how you folks get along with this project; vintage racing looks like good times.  You also appear to be eligible to run in SVRA Group 6 A/S as well, so you can double your fun!

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