Project Muscrate

By Jay Roeder

Hello everyone, and welcome to Project "Muscrate"! Ed. note: (You know, Mustang + crate motor= Muscrate ... ha ha.) First in a series of articles to come, I will be able to shed a little light on the inner workings of an IHRA / NHRA Stock Eliminator class car. Also, I will highlight some of the "little things" that separate a class car from an E.T. car in terms of why, how and how much does it cost to field a competitive stocker. Many of the techniques and theories that apply to a class car are fairly easy and worthwhile to apply to the "weekend warrior" that does battle at the local tracks around the country.

My first "race car" if you will, was a 1980 Mercury Capri with the worst excuse of a V-8 ever built, a 255 cu. in. 2 barrel. I ran the car in Trophy class the first part of the season, knocking down some blistering low 17 second E.T.'s and actually did pretty well. Midway through the year I talked my dad into letting me install a stock 351W with a 4 barrel into my steed. High 14-second time slips became the norm and I was pretty happy to finally have the horsepower to do a burnout! (Not that I needed a burnout of course, but that was cool!) I did well enough with the car that I really didn't want any more trophies, so the track owner at the time, DRO's very own Jok Nicholson, started giving me free entry to the following weekends' race.

My racing program evolved over the next few years and included a 1978 Mustang II with a 351C. I raced in the No Box class at CFR for a couple of years, and it ran middle 12's @ 105 mph. It was a pretty basic car and it did fairly well for me, winning a few races along the way.

Next up was the car that was the beginning of my desire to figure out how to make cars go fast. It was another Mustang II that I bought from a friend that had lost interest. It had a homemade tube chassis, 14x32's and a hood scoop. A real race car was in my
possession! It was rather portly for a "chassis car," all steel except the hood, 460 BBF, C-6 Trans., 9 in. out back, and wheelie bars (not that it needed them)). It weighed about 2900 lbs. The problem was I could not get that damn car to run 10's.

One day, my good friend and mentor, Jim Kramer, was giving me crap because a friend of his was running some high 10's with a 427 in mostly stock trim. At the time I didn't know a stocker from a hole in the ground, other than what Jim had continuously been telling me. I thought, "Yeah right, I'll just bet he goes that fast with mostly stock stuff." Well, you know what, he did. His name was Roger Knudsen. Roger lost his battle with cancer a few years ago, but he was without a doubt my inspiration to learn how to make cars go fast. I could not fathom how he could run the numbers that he did without buying half the products that Jegs or Summit pedaled in their wish books.

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