Chad Anselmi kept his eye for many years on a certain 2000 model-year Mustang built by Dave Zimmerman and Team Z Motorsports in 2009. He was fascinated by the Mustang, keeping two photos on his phone and looking at them regularly.
“I tried buying it three different times over time, but it kept falling through,” Anselmi says. “In 2015, Brian Davis and I were headed to an Orlando, Florida event. I called the owners, who lived in North Carolina in hopes they were taking the Mustang to the race because I wanted to see it in person.”
That’s when Anselmi got the break he had been wanting.
“The guy said it was in storage and if I wanted it, I could come get it,” he remembers. “I said, right, how serious are you? Next thing I knew we were taking a side trip to North Carolina and the Mustang was mine.”
Chad is wheelchair-bound following an accident several years ago and uses hand controls to drive. He bought the Mustang as a pinnacle step in his recovery.
“Before the accident, I was naturally athletic. The wheelchair was a worst case scenario for me, very dark times,” Anselmi recalls. “I started following NMRA, NMCA, and Fun Ford Weekend and stuff like that while I was hospitalized. My first weekend pass out of the hospital a buddy took me to an NMRA race at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park. I immediately told my dad I want hand controls on my Mustang street cruiser. When I got in that car, I was out of my wheelchair for the first time other than in bed. To me, the street car and ultimately this race car is one of the reasons I feel like I’m still here. Without it, I might have made a stupid decision. These guys are my friends, and we hang out, and it’s all good.”
They started working on the necessary modifications for this Mustang. He hadn’t been in a racecar for 15 years, but knew this was his chance to enjoy life to its fullest. “I decided I’d regret if I didn’t take the opportunity to get in the car and prove no matter what struggles I have in life, with the right dedication and positive attitude I can still do the things I love,” Anselmi continues. “I set some goals right then and there, and have gone after them.”
It was my goal to make some of the No Mercy and Lights Out events in Georgia. I wanted to travel and meet a lot of cool people down there that I never thought I’d meet in my life. – Chad Anselmi
The Mustang uses a stock-style suspension with a 10-point chromoly cage that has been repurposed with a driver-side swing-out for easier access for Chad. All fabrication and suspension components were done in-house at Team Z, including tubular K-member and A-arms in the front and double adjustable upper and lower control arms in the rear.
When Chad purchased the car, it went back to the Team Z fabrication shop to undergo the cage modifications and custom hand controls to match the general hand control provisions in his daily driver. Anselmi describes, “with the controls matching my street cars, muscle memory takes over, and I’m comfortable controlling the Mustang on the track. The only difference is that the hand control is mounted solidly to the throttle linkage so I can pull up on it if the throttle were to get stuck. Similar to a hook a driver uses in a foot mounted throttle pedal.”
Strange Engineering double adjustable struts are in the front and double adjustable coilover shocks in the rear. The hood, bumper, doors and deck lid are carbon fiber and all windows are lexan. House of Kolor Lime Time Pearl was laid on with glow in the dark white details added.
Anselmi bought Brian Davis’ Outlaw 632 engine and made payments to him throughout 2016. “We started setting the car up for me with the sling and the hand controls and everything I needed,” he says. “Brian finished out 2016, then we put the motor in my car. I approached Milan Dragway to offer a new Outlaw 632 class that was gaining popularity in other regions. After a lot of posts on Facebook, Milan Dragway saw the possibilities and added the program to the Aeroquip Performance Heads Up Series for 2017.”
Holbrook Racing Engines built the cast intake single carb 632. The big block Chevy makes over 1,300 horsepower. Diamond pistons, Oliver rods, and Jesel valvetrain handle the nitrous. Nitrous Express plumbed two fogger Nitrous systems and flowed them to ensure maximum performance. Everything is tuned by the best in the business, Chris Tuten Racing. I normally wouldn’t put a Chevy in a Ford, but it was a good motor and a good deal I couldn’t pass up.”
Power is transferred to a two-speed Turbo 400 with a Reid case and big input shaft and torque converter combo designed by Camerons Transmissions and Converters.“I really don’t push the engine that hard, though,” Anselmi says. “I leave at 3,200 rpm. It has so much more power in it than I am using right now.”
Mickey Thompson 28×10.5 rear tires from McCormack Racing are on Weld Racing V Series double beadlocks. The frontrunners are the Weld 17-inch V-Series. He protects them with custom tire covers designed by Jeff Salvato from Salvato Designs. Stopping power is provided by Strange Engineering disc brakes all around.
In the safety department, Blain Brothers Racing plumbed in a complete fire system for safety. Anselmi uses a Simpson carbon helmet and Simpson Racing double layer driving suit. He’s held in the car by Simpson Cam Lock 5 harness belts from Quarter-Max Chassis and Components. “All the lightweight components inside the car came from Quarter-Max,” Anselmi says.
Other components include a RacePak V300 Data Logger with Racepak dash and sensors. Prolite Batteries provided a lightweight 16v lithium battery and charger, as well. Team Z customized the Mustang with a hand control setup along with a removable platform to make it easier for Chad to transfer in and out of the car.
Once the car was ready, Anselmi planned out his year.
“I could go to the Outlaw 632 races at the Milan Heads Up Series events each month and work on getting comfortable in the car,” he says. “I hadn’t raced for a long time, but knew if I raced at Milan Dragway and went a little faster each month, I’d be ready to compete at the fall No Mercy event at South Georgia Motorsports Park.”
A broken lifter and chassis-damaging wheel stand plagued his first Outlaw 632 showings. Anselmi said, “I wasn’t even thinking about points, but in August I qualified number one and won the race,” he says. “In September, I did it again — qualified number one and won the race. I was only 11 points behind the leader at that point.”
Now, he had a dilemma. The No Mercy race was scheduled for the same weekend as the last race at Milan.
“This was my year and I had set a lot of personal goals at the beginning of the season,” Anselmi says. “I literally checked-off goal after goal except going to Duck’s fall race. I told Milan it was going to rain the weekend of the last points race and I am going to the Georgia event. I’ll race there and be able to run for the championship after you put it off a week.”
A rain forecast did cancel the Milan race, but an illness prevented him from attending the No Mercy event, as well.
“The first year they had the Outlaw 632 class at Milan was the first time I raced in 15 years with an awesome set-up,” He finished.” I went to the Milan 2017 season banquet and they also named me Rookie of the Year. Basically, I lived the dream in 2017 – I had the time of my life.”
For 2018, Anselmi intends to run the Milan Dragway Outlaw 632 at Milan Dragway and still plans to attend Duck X Productions events where they host the Outlaw 632 class, as well. He and Brian Davis will also continue to promote their No Prep races at US 131 Dragway as N-E Body Productions.
“Racing helps keep my mind right and moving forward,” Anselmi says. “Racing is one of the reasons I feel like I’m still doing okay. Brian “Chucky” Davis spent alot of his personal time in 2017 to help me every step of the way. David Zimmerman, Chris Tuten and Rick Jones’ advice have been the key to my success with this car. These guys are my friends, we hang out, and it’s all good.”
Photos by Mike Grosso, Outlaw Photo