The Cars Of The $10K Drag Shootout: The Dream’s Team’s ’90 Mustang

So confident are the members of the Dream Team in what they’ve assembled that they’ve openly called out their competitors off-the-trailer at the upcoming $10K Drag Shootout in Ohio.

For this highly-talented and vaunted group of gearheads and drag racers — who, at least on paper, who were supposed to be at a disadvantage in this build-off — things simply fell into place throughout the $10K Drag Shootout build, and it all began with the very car they hoped to have as their canvas, falling right into their laps.

The Car

“From everything we had seen before we arrived, we were very interested in the four-eyed car (1986 Mustang), but we got out there and actually got to looking at them, and Dwayne [Gutridge] came up to me and said that white car is probably a pretty nice car but it’s going to be a lot of work,” shares TCI Automotive’s Jeff Reed, the team leader for the Dream Team presented by COMP Cams.

“We’d have to pull the engine, pull the transmission — it was a complete, running car. But he said this GT over here, it’s stripped-down, it’s got 3:73 gears and an 8.8 rearend, new caster/camber plates go with it, it’s got motor mounts laying in the back, and six pony wheels we can sell for cash money. Me and Dwayne didn’t make the decision alone, but after all was said and done, we felt this was the best car we could have gotten. As a group, we knew we had to get one of the two Mustangs.”

With the car already stripped, the Dream Team was able to jump right into installing the roll cage, placing them several hours ahead of their competitors out of the gate. Like every car in the $10K Drag Shootout, the mild steel roll cage kit was provided by Rhodes Race Cars.

The members of the Dream Team — “Big Daddy” Dwayne Gutridge, Jody Comer, Michael Rozman, Eric Kenward, and Jesse Adams — had also done their homework in regards to an engine platform in the weeks leading into the shootout, again putting them head of the curve.

Me and Dwayne didn’t make the decision alone, but after all was said and done, we felt this was the best car we could have gotten. – Jeff Reed, Dream Team leader

The Powerplant

In the midst of procuring cars and engines for the build-off, the Horsepower Wars staff had acquired a GM LM7 long-block (also known as the Vortec 5300, that was used in GM trucks from 1999 to 2007), which was made available to the teams at free market cost. The Dream Team, upon learning of the opportunity, agreed to buy it for $260 before they even arrived. 

The basis for the engine arranged, Gutridge and Rozman acquired a set of LM7 cylinder heads and an oil pump via a classified ad on the LS1Tech forum. 

“When they told us we could buy this motor right away, I said ‘done deal.’ Eric, Dwayne, and Michael are Ford guys, but the market now is LS — that’s what everybody is doing and you can make stupid power with these things,” Reed says matter-of-factly.

The only thing wrong with the engine, Reed notes: the cam bearing was spun out in it.

“It wasn’t gunked up or anything. We bored the motor .020-inch, but the crank and all looked good — we just had it polished and put it back in there.”

The final product revolves around a factory LM7 crankshaft mated with used Scat H-beam rods and pistons provided by show sponsor, MAHLE. MAHLE also delivered on the rod bearings, main bearings, wrist pins, and rings, along with all of the gaskets to complete it. The team used their Summit money to buy a COMP Cams valvespring and retainer kit, an LS lifter and guide kit, pushrods, LS rocker arm bearings, and a billet roller timing set. A custom-ground COMP camshaft makes it all happen in the valvetrain. The group used a factory balancer and oil pan. Sponsor ARP provided the studs and bolts to hold it all together.

Each of the teams utilized Royal Purple’s Max-Tuff assembly lube during their engine builds, and once complete, filled them with Royal Purple XPR 20W-50 or 10W-40 weight oil — which is designed for harsh conditions and high heat environments.

A used LS truck intake manifold and throttle body is mated with an otherwise long list of used, OEM induction and EFI system parts, including the factory ECU, to manage the powerplant.

The oomph for the Dream Team’s build — which Reed fully expects to run into the eight-second zone — comes by way of a BorgWarner SX400 76mm turbocharger acquired from Summit. The team plumbed the turbo system using a front-mounted Mishimoto intercooler and Hypergate wastegate, also from Summit, paired with an HKS blow-off valve, blemished T-6 turbo flange and V-band clamp from Race Part Solutions, and scrap aluminum tubing from CX Racing.

Eric, Dwayne, and Michael are Ford guys, but the market now is LS — that’s what everybody is doing and you can make stupid power with these things. – Jeff Reed

“We got so lucky on that deal,” commented Reed. “We were back and forth on whether we wanted to use an intercooler or not. We waited until about Wednesday of the second week to even place our order for an intercooler and any of the plumbing parts and there was a place up about 75 miles north of the build site we were able to get it from. We called them up and asked if they had anything they couldn’t sell, in the trash, anything in a scrap pile. They sent us a picture of a wooden box filled with aluminum elbows and stainless steel pipes and U-bends. We told them we’d be there in two hours.”

The Drivetrain

A used, $700 FTI Turbo 400 transmission delivers the power out back via a TCI converter from Summit to the aforementioned factory 8.8 with Strange Engineering Street Series 35-spline axles. Factory 3.73 gears were used, along with BMR control arm bearings, a Strange 8.8 yoke and chromoly driveshaft, and Ratech ring and pinion install kit, all from Summit. A Hurst shifter from Summit gets it in gear.

Fuel System & Cooling

The Dream Team’s fuel system is comprised of a MagnaFuel 750 tuner fuel pump feeding the spec VP Racing Fuels C16 through a MagnaFuel regulator to a set of 80 lb/hr fuel injectors. To keep the engine running at optimum temperature, the gang bought a used water pump with a thermostat housing and tensioner for $250, along with a used water overflow tank they spent a paltry $20 for. The car does not have a radiator or transmission cooler.

Fragola, a sponsor of the $10K Drag Shootout, supplied our teams with a whole host of their high-quality hoses and fittings for their various oil, fuel, and water system needs to ensure leak-free, easy maintenance. The Dream Team used an assortment of Fragola parts, including -8 up to -12 fittings and line and a -10 to -8 Y-block.

Electronics & Ignition

Another supporter of the show, Ron Francis Wiring stepped in to supply our teams with the switch panels and wiring necessary to complete their builds without having to source sketchy used wiring and parts from various places. The basis for the electronics on the Dream Machine is Ron Francis’ Bare Bonz wiring kit, which is intended for race-only vehicles and sports three relay and eight fused circuits. The Dream Team also used their switch panel, grounding terminal strip, insulated power stud, ground junction block, and firewall stud insulator cap.

For power and safety, Moroso also provided their battery boxes, on/off power switches, and battery cable kits. E3 Spark Plugs then gave each team a complete set of spark plugs for their engine combination, along with plug wires, distributors, coils, and ignition boxes. The Dream Team used E3’s LS-specific coils on their build.

The team used the factory ECU, to manage the powerplant. HP Tuners was tapped to tune the factory LS ECU.

Suspension & Rubber

The Dream Team procured the front and rear suspension components largely from Summit, including Moog front control arms, Strange Engineering single-adjustable shocks, and QA1 175-lb, 2.5-inch springs up front, and BMR adjustable upper and lower non-adjustable controls arms, QA1 single-adjustable Fox shocks (which they won in the COMP Cams Building Challenge) paired with factory springs, and a used anti-roll bar out back.

Gunmetal grey Racestar 15 x 4 front and 15 x 10 rear wheels wrapped up in sponsor-provided Mickey Thompson 275 Pro tires, and 26 x 4 M/T fronts give it a striking look for such a cheap car, and sponsor-provided Baer SS4+ Deep Stage brakes up front and “factory” Ford brakes in the rear bring it to a halt.

Safety Gear

Safety is always of the utmost importance, and that’s precisely the case here. Gutridge, the Dream Team’s pilot, will be strapped in using a Summit harness held in place with Summit’s harness install kit. A Summit transmission blanket and window net will add to the cockpit. The Dream Team acquired an aluminum racing seat from Summit for the build, as well.

The Dyno

The smooth moments and the tumultuous ones all came together on the tenth and final day of the build, as they fired up and drove their car onto the chassis dyno — something some of their competitors could not accomplish. And they did it under budget, and under the minimum weight.

Dwayne swears up and down he’s going 8.50-something. I’m going to say if the car will go 1.25 60-foot and stay off the bumper, it’ll do it. – Jeff Reed

“In the end, we didn’t go over our budget. We still have that ‘Fresh Prince’ money that if we want to show up in Norwalk with a better this or better that, we just might. I won’t lie, we’ve got some stuff going through our brains right now. I think with one major upgrade, the 100-pound penalty isn’t going to hurt us.”

With Gutridge, a many-time world champion and record holder in the seat, the car tipped the scales at 3,120-pounds, with windows still to be installed when they arrive at Norwalk next month.

At 6,400 rpm and 13-pounds of boost, their powerplant produced 738 horsepower to the tires. Reed notes they had some trouble on the dyno, which they didn’t broadcast to the other teams, involving the wastegate. Reed is confident with that issue behind them, they’ll have another 75 to 100 horsepower in their pocket come race-time.

Reed, Gutridge, and the rest of the Dream Team have every intent, they say, of running their car all the way to the stripe on its first lick — a plan the other teams have called out as ‘stupid’ and one the Dream Team hopes to use to their advantage with some side-betting.

“Why would we not? It’s not the first car this bunch has ever done,” Reed says. “It’s been on the scales and we know where we need to put weight and not put weight, and I honestly think we’re going to make a full quarter-mile pass on the first qualifying run. I may be wrong, but we’ll see.”

The team is not only planning for a full-pull, but they’re calling their shot, as well.

“Dwayne swears up and down he’s going 8.50-something. I’m going to say if the car will go 1.25 60-foot and stay off the bumper, it’ll do it. And if we have 800 horsepower, it should do it, at about 151, 152 mph.”

While the results of the race will ultimately determine who had their act together and who didn’t, the Dream Team to this point has truly defied the odds, bringing together individuals from various walks of the racing life, all of whom came together a true team and got the job done as well as any group could.

“It was tough, won’t lie about that, but we all came together as a team and I think we did a good job,” Reed says. “Did we have some drama? Oh yeah, but so did everyone else.”

All told, the Dream Team spent $3,330.60 in cash and $7,104.50 in Summit gift cards, for a total of $10,435.10. With no weight deductions or penalties to their credit, they will race at the baseline 3,200-pounds.

Dream Machine Car Specifications

Vehicle: 1990 GT Mustang
Weight: 3200
Electrical/Wiring: Ron Francis
Battery Box: Moroso
Battery: 12V
Roll Cages: Rhodes Race Cars
Fasteners: ARP

Engine
Engine Block: Stock LM7 5.3
Crankshaft: Stock
Pistons/Comp Ratio: MAHLE Gas Ported/ 9.5 PN 930218400
Rings: Mahle Heavy Duty
Rods: Stock
Rod/Main Bearings: Coated Supplied by MAHLE
Head Bolts/Studs: ARP Studs
Harmonic Balancer: Stock
Cylinder Heads/Porting: Stock LS 317/No
Camshaft: COMP CAMS
Lifters: Comp Cams
Pushrods: Long
Rocker arms: Stock
Valves: Stock
Valve Springs: Comp Special Order
Head Gaskets: Supplied by Mahle special order
Starter: Stock
Flexplate: Stock

Induction/Exhaust
Carb/Throttle body: Stock GM Truck
Fuel injectors (opt): 80 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Magna Fuel 750 tuner
Fuel Regulator: MagnaFuel
Spark Plugs: E3
Coil(s): E3
Engine management (opt): Stock
Exhaust system: Stock

Power Adder
Blower/Turbo: BorgWarner SX400
Wastegate: Turbosmart Hyper-Gate 45
Blow Off Valve: HKS

Drivetrain
Transmission: FTI TH400 with transbrake
Converter: TCI LS
Driveshaft: Strange/Dream Team Chrome-moly
Shifter: Hurst Pistol Grip
Rear End Gear: Ford Motorsport stock
Rear End Housing: Stock 8.8
Axles: Strange 35-spline
Spool: Strange 35-spline
Gears: 3.73

Suspension
Front suspension: Strange Coilover
Front shocks: Strange single adjustable
Rear suspension: BMR
Rear Shocks: QA1
Front Brakes: Baer
Rear Brakes: Stock Drum
Front Wheels: Race Stars 91
Rear Wheels: Race Stars 91
Front tires: M/T
Rear tires: M/T 275

About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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