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S550 A Pale Horse Build Thread Profile - S550 Mustangs

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I figured I should probably dive in where this whole thing started: My love affair with the Boss 302. As I briefly mentioned in another post, I fell in love with the Boss when I heard one start when I was in North Carolina. He had parked across the street and hearing that insane noise bounce off all the cars around me when it started was enough to really cement my love for the Mustangs. I instantly turned my back on my Challenger and knew I needed to find a way to get something I could start tracking.

Fast forward a couple years, I heard a clip of the GT350 at the Nürburgring and knew that had to be the one. I knew it was the car for me because it was the first time I didn’t care what color the car was, just that I had to have it. After a couple years of obsessing and calling what felt like an endless number of dealers, I found a dealer in Alabama that was willing to sell under MSRP. I arranged to have the car shipped without having ever test driven it, without having ever driven a Mustang, and without much manual experience at all (I moonlight as a semi-professional questionable decision maker). What I did have though was an abundance of overconfidence and underqualification, my favorite cocktail.

When the car arrived, it had been sitting in the dealer showroom for quite some time and had an incredibly low battery. The guy who brought the car out of the trailer was awesome and jumped the car in the middle of a four-lane street and sent me on my way. I made it about half a mile to my driveway and proceeded to stall it with half the car hanging out into the cul-de-sac. With no battery charger in sight, I called my buddy which happened to have it and explained to him how stupid I was. Over the course of the next two hours, I decided to pop the hood and throw on the FP catch cans I had ordered because why not choose that time to start modding? I’m nothing if not an opportunist (also an idiot).

After bandaging my ego and getting the car in the garage, I spent the next few months exploring just how much I liked taking perfectly good money and turning it into noise. I regret nothing.
 
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Goodness, that's a sexy color!

You were at Buttonwillow for Super GT Cup? What class were you in?
 
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Goodness, that's a sexy color!

You were at Buttonwillow for Super GT Cup? What class were you in?
I was running in the beginner group since it was my first time at that track. Really wish I would have signed up a couple classes higher though. It was traffic all day. I did see your car there though, what a stunner!
 
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I was running in the beginner group since it was my first time at that track. Really wish I would have signed up a couple classes higher though. It was traffic all day. I did see your car there though, what a stunner!
Oh ok, so you were doing HPDE? Gotcha.
Yeah I got stuck behind the same Camaro on two separate sessions. Could have possibly podiumed again if I hadn't, but that's ok; it's all for fun anyhow.

Are you going to be at the next one in December?
 

Bill Pemberton

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Great looking Stallion and since it was your first time at Buttonwillow sounds like a Pale Ale would have tasted good after running the Pale Steed through it's paces.

Have to admit, the Boss S sounds fantastic , but the scream of the 5.2 of my 2017 GT350 is oft times missed ---- still one of my favorite rpm songs of any car I have owned!
 
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Oh ok, so you were doing HPDE? Gotcha.
Yeah I got stuck behind the same Camaro on two separate sessions. Could have possibly podiumed again if I hadn't, but that's ok; it's all for fun anyhow.

Are you going to be at the next one in December?
Definitely. I'm also signed up for ACS in October and will probably hit Sonoma early October as well. Something about Buttonwillow really does it for me. I love that track.
 
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Great looking Stallion and since it was your first time at Buttonwillow sounds like a Pale Ale would have tasted good after running the Pale Steed through it's paces.

Have to admit, the Boss S sounds fantastic , but the scream of the 5.2 of my 2017 GT350 is oft times missed ---- still one of my favorite revolution songs of any car I have owned!
The Boss is what started my love of these cars. I was visiting family in NC and heard a Boss start up without the baffles. From that moment on I knew I had to get rid of my Challenger and get in some sort of Mustang. It just so happened that everything lined up at the perfect time. I'd love to add a Boss to the stable in the future!
 
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Definitely. I'm also signed up for ACS in October and will probably hit Sonoma early October as well. Something about Buttonwillow really does it for me. I love that track.
Could not agree more! Buttonwillow is my favorite Socal track. Very technical and precise.
I'm doing BW in October with Nasa, something in November, and then Super GT Cup at BW again in December
 

Bill Pemberton

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Have run Buttonwillow and Thunderhill, but have to agree that Sonoma is on my bucket list after talking to so many friends who have run there. Only been a spectator at Laguna , but like many others, that course also makes the list!

Since I prefer California Wines , a track with a corkscrew just has an aura of a warm bouquet with a soft nose of caramel and oak.
 
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I'd like to keep updating this as I go. I've become a fan of reading through the build threads during downtime at work. I started 2021 wanting to try and do a track day every month, but luck wasn't on my side. After a pipe burst in my garage ceiling and I walked into the garage to find many gallons per minute of water spraying out of the ceiling light fixtures, I sadly had to put my plans on hold. Fast forward a few months though and I started to get into the swing of things. I've had several fantastic track days this year, but I'll fast forward to last weekend since there's the most to share.

I was signed up for Laguna Seca for quite some time and decided I was going to give trailering the car a shot. I've never towed anything in my years on this rock, but nothing was going to stop this overconfident and underqualified idiot (a theme!). I spent lots of time leading up to the big day watching @Fabman's videos both because his build is awesome and I'd like to be half the driver he is when I grow up. My fiancé tells me I'll never grow up so that may not happen, but I'm gonna keep breaking things trying. Nevertheless, I managed to squeeze this thing onto a rental U-Haul trailer with about an inch to spare on each side.
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Laguna Seca was awesome and was the first track day I felt like I was really starting to carry more speed through the corners. I've wanted to visit the track for years so naturally I've run it many times in sims, but being there and truly experiencing it was an entirely different experience that I NEED to experience again.

I started my first session just wanting to get comfortable with the track which resulted in a completely unimpressive 1:48. In the second session I really wanted to work on carrying more speed, specifically through turns 1, 4, and 6. I wasn't ready for how spooky turn 1 can be at WOT in my first session so I was able to get some work in there and progressively brake deeper. The end of the session showed an improvement with a 1:45. The third session I was able to put down more consistent laps but I didn't cut a faster time. I did however find someone that had experience at the track and was able to learn from their lines. The end result was a 1:42 with a passenger in my fourth session before I finally went four off at the corkscrew. I wouldn't say it's fast, but it is faster than I was expecting to go on tires that already had two full days on them. Plus I got this awesome shot:

Jul-31-2021-Speed Ventures (Sat)-6-Purple Group-Session 1 (Turn 3 Exit)-LS1_2131_Jul3121_1134A...jpg

I plan to run several more this year, but there's a few hidden treasures I've found that need addressing. More on that later.
 
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Before I left for Laguna Seca, I knew I had a minor issue I needed to deal with. My driver-side camber plates had begun to bend but I figured it could wait one more track day before being addressed. I ended up chewing up one of my tires pretty bad so I figured it would be a good chance to hop on the Vorshlag train. Here's the passenger-side tire after the third day on these tires.
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I was running -2 in the rear and -2.4 in the front. I'm probably going to dial it up to -2.2 in the rear and -3 in the front to see how that goes. Funny enough I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what those circles were. I hadn't ever seen tires do that before. Turns out it's just from the floor of the U-Haul trailer.

After getting the struts off the car I was able to see what kind of damage was being done. The Ground Control design has a plate on both sides on the body of the strut top mount. It seems that because the hole in the body of the strut top mount has a much larger machined area in it than the bolts need, it was causing the plates to bend around those areas.
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I decided to take some weights too while I had them off the car. I'm shedding a good amount of weight by swapping the the Vorshlag camber plates. I originally went with the Ground Control camber plates because they re-use the factory spring perch. I didn't plan on this car being a dedicated track car at that time so I figured a bit of compliance would be good on the street. Live and learn.
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Overall, I'm really happy with the Vorshlag design. They're lighter, more compact, and they're a bit faster to adjust camber on the car. Since the Ground Control unit's caster adjustment is controlled by two additional bolts, I'll now only have three nuts to loosen instead of five when I make adjustments. Next up is more tires and pads to get ready for Auto Club Speedway on October 2 and then Laguna Seca again later that month. I'd like to break into the 1:30s this time around, but we'll see!
 
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Finally getting around to an update post. Prior to my Oct 2 outing at Auto Club Speedway, I had upgraded a few components. I upgraded the stock tension rods and lower control arms with the SPL units. I went with these mostly just to do things right the first time since I plan on stripping the car and caging it to run TT2 in the future. That's what I tell myself anyway when I look at my empty wallet. I also upgraded rotors at all four corners to Girodisc rotors with Ferodo DSUno up front and DS2500 in the rear. Interestingly enough, the new MagneRide brackets are 3D printed which I wasn't super excited about. That will come up later.
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Auto Club Speedway was an eventful day. I had never been before and wanted to experience it before it gets reworked next year. The early sessions I took some friends out that are either in between cars or have not been to the track before hoping to get them hooked. The only real eventful thing there was my friend that hadn't ever been on the track ended up throwing up in his helmet on the second-to-last lap. he did a good job of keeping it in. Poor guy.

Overall it was a frustrating day as the first session of the day was the fastest before it really started to warm up. My fourth lap was my fastest with a 1:51 with a passenger and the rest of the day was just chasing that. I'd like to go back because I've watched my fastest lap from later in the day and I see where I can easily knock off some time.

Unfortunately, during that same session (last session) I gave it a few too many beans and went flying off track in grand fashion. Fortunately, I caught it on video so we can all point and laugh! If anything, it's worth watching for my fiancé's reaction, definitely not the idiot behind the wheel.

All in all, an expensive day. I trashed the diffuser (it was basically bent into itself), two tires, and the MagneRide brackets on the lower control arms. Nevertheless, I'll do my best to learn from this and avoid trying to brute force a lap time. If anyone ever stopped and asked themselves "I wonder how much dirt can fit in a GT350 undertray", it's at least this much:
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As I mentioned before, I also wasn't thrilled with the 3D printed bracket. As I was cleaning up, I checked on them and they deformed from what I can only imagine is the heat from the brakes. The print also cracked on install since the leverage from turning the bolt starts to turn it into the control arm. I really wanted to make a better part that wouldn't turn into the control arm when tightened so I took a bunch of measurements and fabricated these (complete with speed holes!):
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Onwards and upwards! Looking for to whatever next month has to throw at me on my way to Buttonwillow in December.
 
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I've been slacking on updates so here goes nothing!

December 12, 2021, OnGrid - Buttonwillow CW13
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Buttonwillow is always a great time. I was looking forward to taking what I learned from the previous trip in May to keep progressing. I wanted to use this event as practice before getting serious with NASA in 2022 (trying to hit every event) to hopefully break into TT. First session was cold and slippery and I figured I didn't do anything remarkable slipping everywhere with a passenger. To my surprise I had a 2:02 at the end of the first session which was already better than my first time at Buttonwillow by 3 seconds. I spent the rest of the day sitting around a 2 minute lap with a passenger (giving friends rides trying to get them to hate money as much as I do). Finally I kicked them all out in the last session to try and make it. OnGrid doesn't use (or wasn't using to my knowledge) any apps to check lap times. If you're like me and don't have a lap timer yet, you just have to hang out until they post times. I spent my first 3 laps and last 2 laps with some traffic and honestly thought I hadn't broken the two minute mark I set out for. Surprisingly I was greeted with this:
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I just BARELY made it. A small victory, but there's still so much more to improve there. The downside of this whole event was I managed to bend three wheels. I'm fairly certain I know where I did it, at least on the right side. Buttonwillow is exceptionally bumpy coming out of Riverside and I managed to clip the apex too hard twice. On video there's a noticeable banging sound when it happens. I'm almost certain that's when it happened. The left side bent wheel is anyone's guess. This leads me to...

January 8-9, 2022, NASA - Buttonwillow 25A
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This was my first time running with NASA and it really felt like my first big boy event. I was close to not being able to make it at all when I learned about the bent wheels. I had a week to go but between a great conversation and speedy shipping from @APEXRaceParts and a tremendous offer from @PaddyPrix ready to save my bacon if a shipping company screwed me, I knew I had to make it. I didn't realize we'd be running a new configuration at first (25A which isn't even on Buttonwillow's site so I had to add the A section in paint) so I went in having no idea of what would be a fast time. I just wanted to go into NASA and learn, not worrying about lap times so much. Plus I knew Pat would be there and given that he's funnier and faster than I am, the Mustang crowd and TMO was already well represented.

Disclaimer: I submitted by accident, I'm still editing this post. Forgive me, I'm dumb. Here's the new stuff:
First off for those who have not attended a NASA event, to me they are far more welcoming and instructive than the average track day. We had a download meeting after every session where we dove much deeper than the normal "Who didn't get a point-by." Between my second and third session I cut 5 seconds off using what my instructor in HPDE 3-4 advised, putting me at a 2:00 flat. It also helped that there was only about 8 cars in my run group so there was plenty of open track. By the end of the weekend I had managed a 1:59.461 so I left pretty happy.
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Unfortunately the weekend wasn't without incident. One GT350 there had what we think was and oil line blow. Fortunately he got it shut down just after getting the low oil pressure warning. On Sunday we were all reminded of how dangerous this sport can be, even when you're doing HPDE. A Porsche 944 ended up off track and according the Miata driver who was behind him his wheels caught the mud and he went airborne, flipping repeatedly. From what I know he was at least able to stand and talk when the ambulance got there. I believe he had a spec 944 so it was caged which may very well have saved his life.

Overall, the event was great but the people were fantastic. It was great meeting some TMO members as well as some other Mustang owners who run with NASA. Everyone was welcoming and helpful any chance they got. It truly highlighted what an awesome community this is.
 
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PaddyPrix

If breakin' parts is cool, consider me Miles Davis
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It was a pleasure meeting you and Victoria, and sorry I was running around the whole time like I usually am over those weekends. If I'm not fixing a problem on mine, I'm either checking in on my 944 friends and offering wrenches, or keeping tabs on the other Mustangs and TT competition. Great job joining the famed Buttonwillow #sub2club, on the larger and tougher format, and wow, in an HPDE3 is an even tougher accomplishment as your lap can easily be ruined by some careless noob who is still trying to grasp things like checking their mirrors and track awareness. I didn't catch the 944 accident, but was it the brighter red with white stripes, or the solid maroon one? The red/white is a husband/wife team which is double duty Spec 944 and the lady runs TT6. I don't recall seeing the darker one, but I do hope it was caged up. I saw the white Integra that was just absolutely destroyed, and seeing how the cage still looked mint hammered the safety first point home.
 
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It was a pleasure meeting you and Victoria, and sorry I was running around the whole time like I usually am over those weekends. If I'm not fixing a problem on mine, I'm either checking in on my 944 friends and offering wrenches, or keeping tabs on the other Mustangs and TT competition. Great job joining the famed Buttonwillow #sub2club, on the larger and tougher format, and wow, in an HPDE3 is an even tougher accomplishment as your lap can easily be ruined by some careless noob who is still trying to grasp things like checking their mirrors and track awareness. I didn't catch the 944 accident, but was it the brighter red with white stripes, or the solid maroon one? The red/white is a husband/wife team which is double duty Spec 944 and the lady runs TT6. I don't recall seeing the darker one, but I do hope it was caged up. I saw the white Integra that was just absolutely destroyed, and seeing how the cage still looked mint hammered the safety first point home.
Pleasure meeting you as well! I'm always available if you need any help wrenching. I'm signed up for Willow Springs on both days in HPDE 4 so count on me as a pair of hands if you need them. And thank you for the kind words on my sub-2 lap!

Also the 944 that crashed was solid red running in HPDE3. It's crazy to know it happened because I was just under the GT350 that blew its oil line with him the day before when we were trying to diagnose it. I'm hoping everything is well for him, but I can't find his name since he wasn't running a transponder. I only have his car number which was 66.
 

Bill Pemberton

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As a NASA Instructor it is great to hear your positive account of what I think is one of the big strengths to NASA's HPDE program. Always good to hear from a new Trackmouse, who will soon be a Trackrat, ha. Always mean to ask with your little cone moniker, are you an Autocrosser too?
 

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