Top Five Drag Racing Mustang Mods
Even before the original muscle car era in the 1960s, enthusiasts everywhere would take their vehicles down to their local drag strip to see who had the fastest and most powerful American iron. Drag racing has always been a staple in the American automotive and racing world to see who has the quickest vehicle in the quarter-mile. Unlike road racing, drag racing is strictly getting your Mustang from the starting line to the finish line in the fastest way possible. For more than five decades, Mustang enthusiasts have enjoyed taking their original pony car to the 1320 to prove who has the quickest reaction time, sixty-foot, speed, and quarter-mile time while taking home bragging rights.
The NHRA (National Hod Rod Association) influence and many other drag racing sanctioning bodies aided enthusiasts to enter into many racing competitions to prove who has the quickest stallion. Unlike road racing, drag racing is more accessible for the average Mustang enthusiast to race on the weekend or join a testing session that will enable you to improve your skills. Whereas in road racing or autocross, you're worried about understeer, oversteer, body roll, and lateral grip. In drag racing, the most significant factors are ensuring you get a perfect launch at the Christmas tree, weight transfer, tire grip, power distribution, and torque. These factors are critical to getting your Mustang down the 1320 quickly and effectively.
For most Mustang enthusiasts competing at the drag strip, it is very routine. In contrast, new enthusiasts looking to blast down the drag strip need to understand what performance parts and practices will benefit you as your driving skills improve. Thanks to Steeda's decades of experience in drag racing, we can guide you to choosing the perfect first five modifications to aid fellow enthusiasts to achieve the best times at the drag strip!
Mustang Forced Induction
For many decades, the ingenuity, innovation, and incredible engineering that Mustang engineers have put into their V8 engines are unlike anything in the automotive industry. Characteristics built into the Mustang engines like the "Trinity" Supercharged 5.8L V8, 5.0L "Coyote" V8, Boss 429, and 428 Cobra Jet V8 have helped the Mustang community make substantial power to blast down the drag strip. Whether you’re new or a veteran in the Mustang drag racing community, there are a few characteristics you have to understand to get your stallion down the drag strip as quickly as possible. Unlike road racing, drag racing requires a monstrous amount of horsepower and torque to blast off the starting line to achieve the ET's that every hardcore drag racer desires.
One of the most significant ways to achieve the fastest times in the quarter is by adding forced induction. If you're new to the Mustang and drag racing world, then you're probably wondering what forced induction is? Forced induction is when cold air is directly forced into your Mustang’s engine with either a supercharger or a turbocharger. While horsepower keeps you accelerating once you’re moving, torque is the driving force that gets you off the line from a dead stop.In drag racing, you need to balance both high horsepower and torque to be competitive while achieving amazing ET's in the quarter-mile. Power delivery is very different between both a supercharger and a turbocharger. In contrast, a supercharger is a positive displacement, and turbochargers deliver their power using exhaust gases to boost the engine.
Turbochargers: Whereas superchargers require engine power to make horsepower, a turbo doesn't need anything but the exhaust gases coming from the engine. Turbochargers spin an impeller in the turbocharger to produce boost, which will return charged air into the cylinders, providing boost. In turn, you will be able to make power more efficiently with a boost controller, implementing specific parameters to aid your Mustang launching harder off the starting line.
Superchargers: On the other hand, turbochargers create boost through charged air; both twin-screw and centrifugal superchargers rely on the serpentine belt to drive it to make its power. A turbo uses an impeller and turbine to build its boost, whereas a supercharger uses screws spinning at high RPM to produce boost into the combustion chamber. It pushes air directly into the cylinders to create a more significant explosion in the combustion chamber, which then will result in an enormous amount of horsepower and torque to help you get down the 1320.
Mustang Weight Reduction
In the world of drag racing, like road racing, having the proper balance of weight and horsepower is the difference between winning and losing. The most significant way to accomplish this philosophy is weight reduction; it will free up much-needed power when it counts most out on the drag strip. In drag racing, the most crucial part of getting a perfect launch off the starting line is ensuring you can lift as much weight off the front wheel to have ideal weight transfer over the rear tires to grip the pavement.
There are many ways to accomplish this throughout your Mustang. Some of the easiest ways you can start doing it are removing the passenger seat, sound deadening material, and add carbon fiber body panels, to name a few. Using our decades of experience in drag racing, we believe that two crucial components will help you remove the critical weight out to promote better weight distribution and performance.
K-Member: Within the last three generations of Mustang, the K-Member has been an integral part of how the legendary pony car is built. Unfortunately, the factory K-Member is plagued by its massive weight that is not beneficial for drag racing, especially when the front-end's reduced weight is essential. Steeda solves this issue for Mustang drag racers by offering a complete tubular K-Member that will reduce weight at a substantial level, resulting in better weight reduction, strength, and weight transfer when you're at the drag strip.
Rear Seat Delete: While the Mustang was originally designed to be a two plus two configuration from the factory, racers and enthusiasts alike have little to no use for the rear seats. To kill two birds with one stone, we recommend that you install a rear seat delete to add better weight reduction while giving your pony a race car-inspired design.
When it comes to drag racing, getting the perfect launch is everything, while putting down the most torque to accelerate your pony down the drag strip as quickly as possible. You'll need to accomplish this by ensuring you have the proper rear axle gearing to achieve maximum rear-wheel torque to get your Mustang off the starting line. Simultaneously, your powertrain and drivetrain are responsible for transferring energy to promote speed and acceleration. Gearing is critical to regulating how hard your pony launches, accelerates, and transmits your horsepower to the pavement.
While the Mustang has had many rear gearing options from the factory to aid in acceleration and top-end speed, drag racers are always looking for more accessibility to accomplish better ETs at the quarter-mile. The best way to do this by adding an upgraded set of ring & pinion gears and beefier axles.
Ring & Pinion: When it comes to the ring and pinion gears in your Mustang, the axle ratio is so paramount to how your pony will transfer power to the ground. You will have to consider how much horsepower and torque you want to make, along with taking into account what tire size you intend to use. The most common gear ratio that Mustang drag racers will opt for is the 4.10 pinion gears, depending on your engine and transmission combination.. You're probably asking yourself, why should I opt for this ratio of gears? It would help if you opted for them due to the ability to have the best of both worlds in terms of great acceleration and will allow you to launch extremely hard at the 1320.
Axles: Without the proper axles in your Mustang rear-end, your pony won't be able to handle the strain and stresses that occur during drag racing. Upgrading your axles will help strengthen your Mustang rear-end to endure high torque and horsepower when you go full send down the drag strip. Increasing the spline count will also help reduce a significant amount of stress on your pony driveline.
Mustang Drag Suspension
Getting your horsepower and torque to transmit to the pavement is only half the battle for drag racing. The grip your Mustang creates is everything when you're blasting down 1320; with tremendous amounts of power sent through your drivetrain, the right suspension is key to getting everything to hook-up correctly. Promoting proper weight transfer from front to rear is what a drag pony needs to do to get off the line to beat the competition. For example, if you have well over 1,000 horsepower to the rear wheels in your Mustang with a stock suspension, it will not be able to hold up to the energy one thousand horsepower transmits, and chances are it will not hold up on the drag strip. That is why when you're trying to achieve proper weight transfer and grip at the drag strip, it is vital you have adequate spring rates, dampening, rebound, and adjustability to maximize all of your horsepower and torque.
To accomplish the earth-shattering launches, fastest sixty-foots, highest miler per hour, and achieve the best ETs, you're going to need two primary modifications to your Mustang suspension; these are the following.
Drag Springs: Unlike road racing-oriented lowering springs that are designed to increase handling, improve turn-in, and reduce body roll, drag racing springs are engineered to put maximum power down to the ground while reducing the amount of wheels spin when you're launching your stallion down the drag strip. Weight transfer from front to rear is the key to ensuring maximum grip and acceleration; drag springs allow your Mustang to have the front end come up while the rear squats to lay down maximum torque to accomplish the best ET times in the quarter-mile.
Shocks & Struts: To ensure that your horsepower and torque are correctly put down to the ground, you're going to need appropriate dampening and rebound to absorb the energy your drivetrain produces. In contrast, drag springs take the initial brunt of weight transition from the initial power transition throughout the entire driveline. Installing the correct shocks and struts will allow for complete adjustment for whatever drag strip you are attacking. The key is to bring up your pony's front-end and get the weight over the rear axle to launch you forward to give you a holeshot launch.
Mustang Drag Pack Wheels & Tires
Every enthusiast knows when the rubber meets the road; that is the difference between winning and losing on the drag strip. In drag racing, your Mustang wheels & tires transmit horsepower and torque to the pavement. Without the right equipment, it will determine how well you do against the competition. If you have a thousand horsepower and you can't get it to hook up on the drag strip, it isn't going to do you much good against fellow racers. To solve these issues, you will need a complete set of proper wheels & tires to implement strength, grip, traction, and stability.
You're probably asking yourself why drag wheels are so critical in how well your Mustang performs on the drag strip? They are crucial because they take the drivetrain's initial shock. It takes the driveline's energy and needs to hold the tire without allowing the wheel to spin, and lastly, by equipping your Mustang with a beadlock drag wheel, you will receive maximum traction when the tire wrinkles.
Drag Wheels: More often than not in the Mustang drag racing community, you will find that all wheels are much smaller in diameter to compensate for the larger sidewall and tire size in which most radials are designed. For your Mustang to have the best grip possible, most drag wheels are implemented with beadlock technology to keep the tire from spinning as your Mustang is in motion, especially from the initial shock when your pony launches off the line.
Drag Tires: The correct tire for your Mustang drag setup is critical to ensuring maximum grip at all power levels. For decades the most common tires that enthusiasts and racers alike use for drag racing are either a full racing slick or drag radial. Both tire options are equipped with a softer tire compound to contact the pavement with a larger patch of rubber and have a bigger sidewall to allow the tire to wrinkle during the initial launch. These tires don't have tread grooves built into them to have more contact space to grip the pavement.