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It was just last year that we made a big deal out of the F.A.S.T. (that’s Factory Appearing Stock Tire) Racing Series’ 10-Second Club. At the time that we were preparing the story for Hemmings Muscle Machines’ August 2010 issue last summer, only a coupe of racers had actually broken into the 10s, with several others still hanging on the cusp, struggling to earn what was then an elusive window decal proclaiming membership. Now here we are just over a year later looking on incredulously as the series leaders have penetrated the rarified air of the 9-second stratosphere.
Just for clarity’s sake, remember that the basic rules of this series dictate that competitors’ vehicles must look just like they did the day they rolled off the dealer’s lot – and they don’t mean Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge or Don Yenko’s Chevy store. The cars are to be pattered after factory-specified combinations, and to that end they are to use the properly coded castings and associated parts; there’s also the bit about running only a stock-type tire.
What can’t be seen is fair game, so stroker cranks, meticulously ported heads and manifolds and big compression ratios are the order of the day, but all that power still has to be put to good use through a relatively puny DOT-legal footprint. It’s a challenge that these guys have obviously taken quite seriously.
Just a few weeks ago over Labor Day weekend, Hemmings Muscle Machines magazine held its Musclepalooza event at Englishtown’s Raceway Park in New Jersey, and as usual, the event included a F.A.S.T. race, one that promised to be quite interesting, thanks to a combination of a season’s worth of testing and tuning combined with E-town’s advantageous altitude and the distinct possibility of some cool fall air. After watching long-time series leader Dave Dudek shatter the F.A.S.T. ET record in the spring with a 10.18 at 136 MPH with his black Hemi Road Runner, all of us were hoping to witness the first 9-second run in series history, but it just didn’t happen.
That is, as far as anyone can tell it didn’t – Dudek made an all-out run near the end of the day that fell victim to a timing-equipment glitch, meaning that the scoreboard never lit up and no timeslip was produced. After rolling back to the lanes, Dudek said it felt like the best run he’d ever made in the Plymouth; he pressed on and tried again, clicking off a record-setting 10.05 at 138, taking Hemmings publisher Jim Menneto’s $1,000 reward but falling short of the landmark ET. Afterwards, Dudek said the record run did not feel as good as the one that had gone unrecorded, but the race had been run and the day was over.
Fortunately, the F.A.S.T. season wasn’t, with another event to be held at Maryland’s Cecil County Dragway this past weekend. This is another track that’s known for helping racers set personal bests thanks to its low altitude; going there in the fall can yield what racers call “mine-shaft” quality air, the kind that makes engines very happy.
The planets did indeed align at Cecil County last weekend, and the F.A.S.T. racers had their first 9-second pass – and then some. In a turn of events that few would have predicted, the first run in the nines did not actually go to long-time front runner Dudek, but rather, to the man who’s been chasing him down all season: Lane Carey. Carey pilots a ’71 Mustang Mach 1 that’s built to 429 Super Cobra Jet specs, and he’s been whittling his ETs down since last year, though often a couple tenths behind Dudek. At Englishtown, Carey’s best run was a 10.36 at 133 MPH, though a number of his other passes at that event were considerably slower. Yet at Cecil County, Carey blasted all the way to a 9.84 at 139 MPH, even showing a little air under the right front tire. Video of the run offers proof of expectations on that day – the cameraman was focused on Dudek’s scoreboard at the end of the run that produced Carey’s big number.
For Dudek, it was simply a matter of timing – he too broke into the nines, running 9.98 at 138.39, but after Carey made his first 9-second run. Given that Dudek has long been wringing performance out of his Road Runner, and that his trap speeds are only shy of Carey’s by a narrow margin, we’re sure the ET battles are far from over in the series. In the meantime, the rest of us can marvel at what these guys have proven is possible with factory components.
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Tagged Cecil County Dragway, Dave Dudek, F.A.S.T., ford, Ford Mustang, Ford Mustang Mach 1, Hemmings Daily, Hemmings Muscle Machines, Lane Carey, racing