Monthly archives "August 2010"

Making Your 5.0 Mustang Hook Part 1 The Tires

Thomas Gambon 3 Comments

The 5.0 Mustang is one of the most popular cars found at the track today. There’s a good reason for that too. The Mustangs excellent power to weight ratio in stock form. Along with the very large availability of parts from both the factory and the aftermarket. Make it a great starting point from which to build a competitive race car.

Still the Fox-body Mustang is not without its shortcomings. The nose heavy weight bias, non parallel four link rear suspension, and other items need attention. Luckily most of them are easily remedied.

    The first thing that needs addressed is the tires, on the 5.0 Mustang tires are a vital link between the car and the racing surface. Making them the single most important part for making your Mustang  launch correctly. The factory supplied rubber, Goodyear Eagles for most years models. Are a great tire for a road going machine, but not exactly what you want for drag racing. The tires short sidewall height, combined with the hard rubber street tire compound. Mean lots and lots of wheelspin and long black skid marks everywhere.

So  changing to a true drag racing tire is in order. For street/strip driven cars drag radials are a hard tire to beat, for a track only ride racing slicks or cheater slicks (AKA M/T ET Streets) are what you want. Mustangs can run with either a 26″ or 28″ tall tire (factory rubber generally runs about 25.5″ tall) with only slight massaging of the inner fenderwells. Using a 15×8″ wheel with a 5.5″ backspacing and you should be able to fit a 275/60×15 drag radial or a 28×12.5-15LT ET Street or a 28×10.5-15 slick. The difference in numbering is in the way the tires are measured, slicks are listed by tread width, the others are given by section width (overall sidewall to sidewall width).

   A  28″ tall tire, like the above sizes works best for a high horsepower,stroker motor, supercharged,turbocharged and/or nitrous car. If your ride is more conservative in the horsepower department, a 28″ tire would definitely be overkill. One thing to consider is the weight of your tire, taller tires = heavier tires. After your car launches that same tire now becomes a liability, because of rotational inertia (takes more power to turn em).

 In other words if your car hooks just fine with a 26″ tire without excessive spin . It will actually be quicker and faster with the smaller and lighter tire. If your budget limits you to only one set of tires the shorter tires are definitely the way you want to go. A 28″ tire will also require a rearend gear change (to keep your engine in its powerband) as well. Which is an extra expense that I’ll discuss in a later post.

     While I’m on the lighter is better topic, most factory wheels are extremely heavy. Changing your rims to a lightweight aluminum rim like a Centerline or Weld Draglights, or if you’re really in the money a set of Bogart Dragonflys. Will  definitely shave some precious time off your 60′ ET , as much as .10 second or more on most cars.

Aluminum wheels will require longer wheel studs to properly fasten them to your Mustang.Factory studs are just not long enough to do the job.You can use a long shank lug nut that fits inside the wheel to secure them. Or better yet, use the 11/16″ drive studs with a flat spacer and lug nut (much, much stronger).They also can be torqued to 100 ft. lbs. instead of 80 ft. lbs. like with the stock 1/2″ studs. Safety rules require the stud to extend at least the diameter of the stud (1/2″) into the hex portion of the lugnut (3″ studs will do the job).

    Radials are generally run tubeless, slicks and ET street type tires can be run tubeless, but are generally run with tubes inside. Running tubes in your tires requires you to run screws through the bead. To prevent tire from creeping on the wheel and ripping out your valvestems. 10-12 self tapping S.S. screws equally spaced around the bead on BOTH sides of the wheel should do the trick. Every other screw goes through the rim at a 90 deg. angle (straight in), the alternate screws should penetrate the bead at a 45 deg. angle. Make sure the screws you use are long enough to go through the wheel flange but not so long as to puncture the tube/tire. Something like a  #12 hex head x 1/2″-3/4″ length should do the trick, (make sure you check though).

 Screws are not recommended on drag radials, so use a bead-lock type wheel with these tires. Make sure you have your new wheels and tires professionally balanced before hitting the race track. Peel and stick wheel weights work better than the hammer on kind that most tire stores use. Do yourself a favor and pick some up and bring them along with you when you go to have them mounted.

    Now that your Mustang has some new  rubber, its time to air them up. Buy a high quality tire pressure gauge (liquid filled is best), made specifically for low pressure. The old pencil/stick type gauge your grand dad used, is just not going to cut it anymore! My recommendation is to start out on the high side of the pressure range, (DO NOT EVER exceed maximum pressure rating on sidewall) and gradually lower the pressure 1-2 psi at a time. Keep checking your 60′ times, look for the pressure that gives you the quickest 60′ time. After that you can fine tune pressures by 1/2 pound at a time, to find the perfect number. Be aware of the fact that a drag slick with low air pressure is a bit of a  hairy ride (Bias Ply Squirm) that takes a little getting used to, be careful! By now you should have lowered your ET by several tenth’s of a second (at least). Keep reading along with me and soon  I’ll bring you more racing tips and techniques to make you quicker and faster.

Quarter Mile Quiz a Test of Your Auto Racing Knowledge

Thomas Gambon 1 Comment

Here’s a little quiz I put together, full of my best racing tips to test your quarter mile auto racing knowledge and have a little fun as well. I hope you enjoy taking it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’ve had a lifetime of fun racing my  Ford Mustang , I’m sure you’ll enjoy drag racing too. So let’s hit the track.

1. Burnout

  A: Your uncle Vinnie who grew up in the 60’s

  B: The process of heating/melting the ever living S*#t out of your tires before making a run.

2. Broke Out

  A: Escaping from the county lockup. (see 1a above)

  B: Running faster than your posted dial in.

3. Top End Charge

  A: A drunken event held at the local strip joint.

  B: The pull of your cars engine in high gear.

4. Christmas Tree

  A: A giant matchstick adorned with balls and wires.

  B: An electronic timing device used to ensure fair starts.

5. Index Racing

  A: A competition for major nerds at the local library.

  B: The use of dial ins to allow for handicapped (Challenged)? starts.

6. Nitrous Oxide

  A: The only (Good) reason to visit the dentist.

  B: A liquid oxidizer used to increase horsepower/blow up expensive racing engines.

7. Blower

  A: Well we just won’t go there.

  B: A belt driven compressor used to increase airflow.

8. Torque

  A: Proper pronunciation of the word “Talk” in Brooklyn.

  B: The twisting force of the crankshaft measured in lbs.ft.

9. Bite

  A: Not very good as in “This quiz bites.”

  B: Starting Line traction or lack thereof.

10. EPEC

  A: Extremely perplexing engine cooker.

  B: Extreme Performance Engine Control.

11. Drag Radials

  A: Happens when you forget to release the parking brake.

  B:  Racing Slicks with grooves in them.

12. Intercooler

  A: A German device for keeping Becks at the perfect temperature.

  B: An air to air/air to water mini radiator used to reduce intake charge temperature in blown/turbocharged cars.

If you answered B to all the above, you are a serious motorhead and your wife and /or girlfriend probably misses you. Call her!

If you answered A to more than a few of these. Keep reading this blog, you’ll catch on.

If you answered A to ALL of them, I probably know you, or you’re already a member of my race team. If that’s the case, PUT DOWN THE GIRLIE MAGAZINE AND GET BACK TO WORK!

The History of Auto Racing

Thomas Gambon 1 Comment

Ford Mustang vs Ford Thunderbird

      The first gasoline fueled automobile was built in the late 19th century by the Duryea brothers. It had a massive (for its day) 4 HP engine, but it was the dawn of a new industry. Before this effort there were several attempts at building steam powered vehicles. Some were more successful than others, the gasoline powered internal combustion engine using the four-cycle “Otto Principle” engine was much lighter and efficient.

Most steam powered cars were nothing more than locomotives in miniature. With the attendant problems of carrying enough fuel to burn and water to make steam. They were excessively heavy and unwieldly, weighing 3 or 4 times as much as a gas powered car.

    Henry Ford was generally credited with making the automobile affordable for the average consumer. His idea for the assembly line modernized the auto industry as well as many others.

The first recorded auto race was held in 1896, and after that date cars became faster and more efficient. The slogan “Race on Sunday-Sell on Monday” became the catch phrase as manufacturers took what they learned on the racetrack and applied it to their production cars. By the early 1900’s auto racing was sweeping the country as the quest to build bigger and faster cars caught on everywhere.

    Prohibition was a huge contributor to making cars faster as Moonshiners sought to outrun the revenuers. In order to get their goods to market, they had to build stronger engines and put them in stripped out bodies. So as to keep the weight down, so they could carry more White Lightning. Large cubic inch V8 engines such as the Cadillac and Oldsmobile were the power of choice for the gangsters and bootleggers of that era.

  With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, there were a lot of fast cars and good drivers with a lot of time on there hands. The formation of NASCAR in 1943 gave a lot of these men a place to strut there stuff in a legal way. Some of the best drivers/fastest cars of the early days of NASCAR, were said to be those of former bootleggers. The first Daytona 500 was run at the new Daytona International Speedway Feb.22, 1959 and is one of the premier racing events of the year to this day.

    About this same time frame was when drag racing  formed its roots. It seemed anywhere there were two cars and a stretch of road was perfect for an impromptu race. More formal racing events were being held on the dry lake beds of California. Soon after timed speed events were being held at the world famous “Bonneville Salt Flats.”

Californias’ Santa Ana is recognized as the first real dragstrip. With the formation of the NHRA National Hot Rod Association in 1953 organized drag racing was born. Other sanctioning bodies were formed later such as the AHRA (1956-1984) and IHRA  are still running today. Automobile drag racing today encompasses a vast range of classes for all types of cars. From the stock bodied bracket racer that can’t break 100 mph in the quartermile to the Nitromethane belching monsters of Top Fuel and Funny Car that easily blow past 300 mph in the now shortened to 1000 foot distance, for those cars.

Throughout the history of auto racing theres never been a dull moment. There’s something for everyone and fun for all at the auto races. Whether you like your racers to go straight or to turn left in a circle, racing’s an All American pastime.

5.0 Mustang on The Starting Line

Thomas Gambon 1 Comment


5.0 Mustang in Proper Position to Do a Burnout-In Front of the Water!


       So now you’re ready to move up to the starting line. You’ve double checked your seatbelt and your helmet strap(RIGHT)?As you pull up to the starting line you want to be sure your car is lined up IN THE GROOVE! The GROOVE is the 2 dark patches on the track where (most) of the cars all run. Its the built up rubber left behind from all the other cars that went before you (very sticky).Center your car as best you can in the 2 black strips, MAKE SURE YOUR WHEELS ARE POINTED STRAIGHT AHEAD!

 Here’s where I’m gonna talk about proper staging technique(etiquette)? In drag racing your car there is a thing we call courtesy stage. What this means in the nut shell is, the first car to the line. Pulls up far enough to light the PRE STAGE BULBS ONLY! Then WAITS for the other driver to do likewise. Don’t just go roaring up to the line, light the pre stage, the stage, and then go straight to deep stage ALL AT ONCE! If you do everyone will know you are a rank amateur, we don’t want that do we? If the other driver does it, oh well, tell him about this blog.

     If you spent some time watching the starting line (like I told you to). Then you’ll have no problem identifying the box between the lanes that houses the starting beams. Slowly approach the beams, as soon as the pre stage bulb lights STOP, wait for the other driver, then SLOWLY inch forward. You’re only 6″ from the starting line now (don’t want to foulstart now).

When your staged light comes on stop, (this is called a shallow stage) which is good for a lower ET as your car can get a rolling start before breaking the beams. I’ll get into varying your staging methods later, including how to deep stage, and what the advantages are to both techniques. As soon as both cars are staged the starter can activate the tree (SO BE READY).

 Eyes on the tree, concentration focused, RPMS up, LEAN BACK! The tree features 3 amber bulbs, a green bulb,and A HUGE UGLY RED ONE! Each amber bulb is lit for exactly 1/2 (.5) seconds giving you a total of 1 1/2 (1.5) seconds from the time the tree is activated until the green light comes on. My best racing tip for this lesson is DON’T WAIT FOR THE GREEN LIGHT TO COME ON! If you do you’ll be late (very) off the starting line.

The reason is a thing called reaction time, you have one and your car has one. Together they add up to a 1/2 second (at least), unless your car is extremely quick/fast. Trust me on this one point, we can fine tune your cars reaction time in the near future. Most peoples reaction time is non adjustable, so we’ll work on different staging depths to fine tune your R.T. later.

    So the 3rd amber comes on and we’re off, you didn’t light the red one, did you? You must wait until you SEE the 3rd amber come on, don’t anticipate it (see it). Keep your car centered in the groove as you row through the gears.(Don’t overrev her) Outside of the groove is a place called the marbles, and can be very slick out there (wheelspin bad).

Keep the pedal to the metal and your wits about you. Don’t do nothing dumb at this point we’re almost home free. When you cross the finish line, take your foot off the gas pedal (Duh) and apply the brakes firmly but gently. Gradually slow the car to a safe speed and look for the return road, (REMEMBER WHAT I TOLD YOU ABOUT CUTTING IN FRONT OF THE OTHER CAR)!

Most tracks have more than one return road. Its OK to drive past the first one if your car is traveling too fast to safely negotiate the turn. Remember keep your helmet on and your seat belt securely fastened until you are  COMPLETELY OFF THE RACING SURFACE!  I’ve seen cars have their brakes fail or other serious problems develop at this point. No sense getting careless now!

 Turn off the track and head for the timing shack (NO SPEEDING 10 MPH) to pick up your first timeslip. Congratulations on a job well done! You are now a DRAGRACER for which there is no cure! I’ll be posting more info on this blog in the future so stay tuned for more tips and techniques to come.

Time To Buckle Up in My Mustang 5.0

Thomas Gambon 4 Comments


Mustang 5.0 LX On The Starting Line


    Ok so you passed tech inspection, the cars tuned up, you got your helmet ready. You do have a helmet right? Even though some street car classes don’t require a helmet. Remember automobile dragracing’s a dangerous sport, and you’ll be driving well in excess of the national speed limit(hopefully). Besides a helmet is what they call CHEAP INSURANCE!They don’t call em BRAIN BUCKETS for nothing.

 Besides how are you gonna count all that prize money when all you can say is “PUDDING”. Now you could go and borrow one from a buddy (if you must), but a helmet should be properly fitted to the wearers head. IE… “TOO BIG = TOO BAD”.  My best racing tip for this lesson is BUY A HELMET!

     So you’ve managed to find the right staging lane for your particular car (see that was’nt so hard). To keep the engine as cool as possible a lot of racers enlist the help of a friend or 2 to push the car through the staging lanes. If we were going for maximum speed and minimum ET that would be OK. But for your first pass lets just try to make it all the way down the track (in one piece) without hurting ourselves or the other guy. Or looking completely foolish in the process. Remember A/C off now, we don’t want to be dripping water all over the racing surface (very slippery).

     Now we’re first in line, next to run (adrenaline really pumping now buddy). Take a deep breath and relax, this is supposed to be FUN remember. Time to make sure your windows are closed, seatbelt is fastened, helmet is secured to the old melon (check).

When the man gives you the signal to move forward, approach the burnout box. Now if your car is running REGULAR treaded passenger car tires, I would suggest you bypass (drive around) the water. If you’ve spent any time watching from the starting line, I’m sure you’ve seen some other racers do this. If your running slicks or other sticky drag racing type tires (drag radials, M/T ET Streets, what I run on my Mustang 5.0 LX). Pull into and through the water, watch for the track guys signal to stop in the right spot, in front of the water. Thats his job!

    After the pair of cars in front of you leave the starting line, you’ll be given the signal to start your burnout. Burnout procedures vary depending on your car and its equipment. If your car has a LINE LOCK, (solenoid that locks front brakes only) pump your brakes 2 or 3 times. Press and hold brake pedal down, depress line lock button, release brake pedal. Most burnouts are performed in 2nd gear to avoid overrevving your engine, and scattering its innards all over the ground. (VERY BAD)

 Gradually increase the RPMS to about 4000 and hold for a count of 3. Release the line lock button and at the same time slowly allow your engine RPM to fall as your car moves forward. Don’t smoke out the entire grandstands like your John Force or somebody. You want your car to live to race another day don’t you? Here’s where almost everybody seems to want to do a dry hop (chirp their tires). My advice (DON’T DO IT)!

 Your tires are now perfect for the starting line, dry hopping only serves to remove that nice layer of sticky rubber you just worked so hard to get. If you don’t have a line lock and want to race with sticky tires(GET ONE). Very inexpensive compared to the automatic transmission or clutch you’re going to ruin. Not to mention the back brakes by power braking your car. I know you can let the clutch fly and then step on the brakes lightly to keep the car from rolling too fast. But this method EATS UP parts in the long run.

Your First Time on The Dragstrip

Thomas Gambon 2 Comments

Staged and Ready To Roll

 Today I’d like to discuss your first attempt at  drag racing your car. Hopefully you’ve spent at least a few trips to the dragstrip as a spectator. That way you can familiarize yourself with your home tracks layout. Where the various classes line up to race, which is called the staging lanes.

 There are different lanes for each category (class) of cars that are running. Typical lanes at most tracks are segregated by speed potential of the respective cars in the different classes. Fast cars run with fast cars, street cars run with other street cars etc. Its OK to ask someone else in line ” Am I in the right lane” most racers are very nice. Besides everybody was a “rookie” at one time or other. 

Ideally your first trip to the staging lanes will be on an off night. tracks typically have “Test and Tune night”. Usually on a Wednesday or a Friday night. You’ll be able to get more time on the track (more passes) than you would on a weekend day or night. Which is when most tracks run their bracket racing program or other large racing events. The tech lines (car inspection) will be shorter, and track personnel will not be as busy. So they won’t be as rushed and may be more tolerant of a newcomers questions.

Regarding tech inspections, be sure your car is up to date with motor vehicle inspections in your state. Don’t try to sneak by the inspector with items like cracked windshields, missing lug nuts, frayed seatbelts and other obvious safety hazards. Dragracing can be a very dangerous sport and the inspectors job is to make sure that everyone has as safe a vehicle as possible. So if you fail tech, don’t give the inspector a hard time. He’s only trying to save your life, and the other guys too.

 Make a note of any items you are told need attention, and be sure to have them fixed before you return to the track next time. The life you save may be your own! The best racing tip I can give you for this lesson is to buy an NHRA rule book! Its chock full of useful information regarding the inner workings of drag racing, and the safety equipment your car will be expected to have on it.

    Also at this time be sure to check out on track features. Such as where the cars heat up their tires (burnout box), Where the actual starting line is located, there’s nothing more embarassing than watching someone stage the car with the BACK wheels on the starting line. Let’s not be THAT guy! Ask another racer about the turn off for the return road, is it to the left or the right. If you are in the opposite lane from the return road “NEVER CUT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER RACER” let them pass you by BEFORE crossing over! Where do I pick up my timeslip, and any other thing regarding your local track layout.

About Me

Thomas Gambon 0 Comments


   My name is Tommy and I’m a 49 year old carpenter and drag racer for over 30 years. In this blog I’d like to share with you my best racing tips. That I’ve accumulated over the years. I’m going to cover all aspects of the drag racing experience. From getting to and from the track safely, finding a choice spot in the pits, staging the car. Proper burnout techniques, driving the quartermile, and safely bringing the car to a stop. Bracket racing strategies and procedures, dialing in your car, what you should bring with you to the track, etc. I’ll also cover everything you need to know to have a safe and funfilled day or night at the racetrack.

Lets Go Racing!

Thomas Gambon 0 Comments

 I made my first pass down the quartermile way back in 1978, at Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J. Growing up in the seventies as I did my first car was the classic Chevy Camaro. My 6 cylinder ’67 Camaro ran a blistering 18.48 @76 mph as I recall. As slow as that now seems, I was hooked! A telephone pole and a patch of “BLACK ICE” ended our relationship abruptly one January night. My next ’67 Camaro carried the venerable 327 with a Muncie 4 speed transmission. Lack of the proper safety equipment  (scattershield) kept this fine ride off the racetrack. 

    In the eighties I moved to sunny south Florida, where it seemed to me the 5 liter Mustangs were on every corner. Which led to my purchasing a 1983 Mustang GT 5.0, my first of many Mustangs to follow. 

Thirty some odd years and a half dozen or so racecars later. My current ride a 1993 Mustang LX 5.0 hatchback, armed with a 363 cu. in. stroker motor, C4 with transbrake, and a 2 stage nitrous system by Nitrous Oxide Systems is capable of running in the 8 second zone if pushed hard enough. 8 seconds or 18  drag racing has brought a lot of joy to my life over the years. It’s a great hobby for me and a profitable profession for others.

 Either way this blog was created so others could benefit from my best racing tips. So (hopefully) you can avoid some of the same mistakes I made along the way. I’m going to try to cover as many different aspects of the total dragracing experience that I can for you.

Topics will include everything from getting to and from the track, checklist of items to bring with you, on track tips, money saving tips, etc. From the first time racer to the serious gearhead, I hope to provide a little something for everyone. So come on inside and enjoy the ride.