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I'm not sure who said it first, but the immortal words "Drive It Like You Hate It" are perfectly exemplified by Wayne's Supercharged 351w Mustang/Capri and broken axle. Keep in mind one other piece of advice - if you don't want to break it, you shouldn't be racing it.  Breakage is a daily norm at the drag strip, so if you want to make the power, don't be surprised when parts start letting go!

I hear a lot of guys whining about parts not showing up, parts costing too much, a machinist taking too long etc. My theory is that you should always expect it to cost twice as much and take twice as long to complete as you originally think.  If you have this mentality from the get go, if it cost less than twice as much, you will be happy because it came in under budget!  Twisted thinking?  Maybe.  My opinion is to just take your time, and don't rush anything. Research carefully, and don't go and blindly drop $20,000 at a speed shop and tell them "Make it fast." YOU WILL GET RIPPED OFF. If a speed shop does do work for you, GET A WRITTEN QUOTE ahead of time! An informed and smart consumer is the only way to be. I have been called "Cheap" by every speed shop in the city, and am damn proud of it! Ask around, read magazines and message boards, ask successful racers for opinions. Remember, no one person is "God", and in the end it is up to you to make the right decisions. If your car ends up under-performing, it is no ones fault but your own.

Remember that magazine lie, and only tell half the story. You wouldn't believe how many people I have run into that think its easy to run nines and eights in a street car.  These are usually the guys that have never been to the track and think their 14 second car will run 11's because they have underdrive pulleys and a 4" exhaust tip.  What magazines don't tell you is that the guy running eights in anything that resembles a street car has a good $50,000 into it and carries a spare tranny, rear end, motor and 2 set of slicks in the trailer. I saw one guy that had SIX, yep 6, spare C4 auto trannies in his trailer!

Where To Begin?? Goal Setting!
You need a goal! How on earth can you plan a trip if you have no destination? As far as I am concerened, there are only 2 ways to approach this when it comes to modding your car. If you are going to do "everything" at once, then you need to look at it from a budget perspective....how much money do you want to blow. The second approach is from a performance objective assuming you will modiy the car in stages over a number of years. This way, you need to decide what you want your car to be capable of when you are "finished".

I am a drag racer, and the most important thing for me as a measure of performance is straight line acceleration capability. Instead of boring you with how to go about this, I'll tell you what I set as my goals for my Incon turbo car. FIRST and foremost was that it had to be fairly docile and drivable. The performance goal for it was to run 11's at 130mph on real street rubber, on pump gas, in full street trim including stereo, subwoofer, fat tires all the way around etc. This was not an arbitrary performance goal however. It was chosen very carefully keeping several things in mind..... COST!! I wanted to keep costs down, so I was looking for a power level that the stock factory shortblock could support. I am close but still have a ways to go....it ran 127.2mph this year.

Once you have decided how fast you want to go, or how much money you want to spend, the rest is alot easier once you have a clear destination.

Laying out the Plan
Once you have a goal, you need more INFORMATION. You must weigh your car at the landfill, truck stop or inspection station. My car weighed 3400 pounds with me in it, and to run 130mph requires approximately 520rwhp. This number was derived mainly from the epxereinces of other turbo racers. A supercharged car would require more peak horsepower to run the same number due to less 'power under the curve'.

Once you have an idea of what sort of power you need to make, you can start calling for quotes to reputable engine builders, or price out a number of combos. Do you want a 302? 351w?, 460? Nitrous/Turbo/Supercharged?? How about a 600 cubic inch stroker?? Inform yourself, and decide based on your goals....after that, its easy.

Most people don't choose a quarter mile mph as their goal, most people choose an ET...." I wan't it to run 12's" is probably the most common one I hear. Even with this, you need to decide 2 VERY important things.... 1) What kind of tires are you willing to run? and 2) What sort of rear end gear ratio can you tolerate? These are probably the single 2 most important factors in ET (traction) racing. Once you decide this, the rest is easy.

Working on it Yourself
How much work can you do?? Are you mechanically inclined, or mechanically stumped?? The more work you can do yourself, the more money you will save. Most people will charge $40 to $75 per hour to do the work for you, so the savings REALLY add up fast if you can do some yourself. The saving can also come in little places...oil changes, tune-ups, tire rotation, nitrous install, tach wiring etc... some of it is REALLY easy, so don't be scared, but don't bite of more then you can chew the first time around.

Don't be Surprised at the Cost of Performance
Going fast is gonna cost you. You will not make 500rwhp without spending quite a bit of money. Some routes are cheaper then others, but parts are EXPENSIVE. Cylinder heads run around $1200 us, fuel injectors are about $300, a Roll Bar can cost $350 to $750 installed. A supercharger runs $3000+ US these days. A turbo kit is $4000 +++. A basic short block machine 'package' (bore, hone, rods resized, crank service etc) runs about $600 and up. Gaskets will run you $100+, tranny oil for an auto is $2+ per litre....the cost add up very quickly!

ALWAYS GET A WRITTEN QUOTE from a shop before you authorize any work!!!

Everybody Lies!!
Its sad, but I am starting to believe it myself. There are SO MANY dishonest people in this car thing, that it can get discouraging at times. People claiming ungodly performance for few mods, people slandering other people, guys lying about what is really in their cars...etc. Don't get bummed out, and watch out for 'smooth talking' salesmen. If you build it right, IT HAS TO PERFORM.....eventually ;) It may just take some fine tuning, or fiddling.

Questions? Comments?

Email-tomak@www.com