While the 1992 Mustang Jeff and Chris Harrington take turns driving hauled to a 4.12 last year, the Michigan-based brothers wanted to go quicker and faster, and began charting their course early this year.
They freshened their 430 cubic-inch small-block Ford built on a cast aluminum RDI block, and gave it new GRP rods and Diamond pistons. They topped it with a new set of billet MBE heads and a billet intake which Chris designed and CNC machined before pairing with a fabricated aluminum bonnet.
They fabricated a new set of headers, and fronted their masterpiece with the 88mm Garrett GTX 5018R turbos they had been running. To help put the power to the pavement, they put their Rossler TurboGlide and ProTorque converter back in place under the car, which rolls on Mickey Thompson 10.5Wx33 slicks.
When the last wrench was turned, they headed to a test session and then the Aeroquip Friday Night Heads-Up event in early July at Milan Dragway in Michigan, where Jeff unleashed a 4.13 to lead qualifying in Outlaw 10.5 with a tune Chris put on the combination using a new Haltech engine management system, with an assist from Patrick Barnhill and Jason Lee of PTP Racing. While rain postponed eliminations until the following week, Jeff picked up where he left off and drove to the event win with a 4.20.
“We were lucky to win considering we had been struggling with new combination gremlins,” said Jeff. “Our boost controller was not working, but we were able to Band-Aid the issue by taking power out with the Haltech unit and the ignition timing, and we locked the C02 regulator for the max boost pressure that we wanted.”
The Harringtons followed that with a trip to the 12th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing in late July at Route 66 Raceway in Illinois, where Chris climbed into the cockpit. He uncorked a personal best of 4.07 while carrying a wheelie from the 330-foot mark to the eighth-mile and qualified in the sixth spot in Mickey Thompson Radial Wars. Then, even though he had his competition covered with a 4.13 in the first round of eliminations, he lost when the car went into another wheelstand, which needed to be settled down before things got wild.
“With the changes to the combination, we have more power, and as a result, the car has been wanting to go into a wheelie at 330 feet and stay in a wheelie,” said Jeff. “On that pass, Chris actually ended up taking out the eighth-mile cone, but in his defense, he wasn’t able to steer and was just holding on and trying to get the car to come down.”
By then, the brothers — and their crew chief and father, also named Jeff — had begun making adjustments to the car’s four-link, and they re-valved the car’s Afco shocks in an attempt to stiffen the chassis. Then, they headed to the Aeroquip Friday Night Heads-Up event in early August at Milan, where Jeff cruised to a 4.34 to qualify in the third spot and drove to the semifinal in Outlaw 10.5, where the pot was split when the rain came.
With no additional testing, they went to the 16th Annual Honeywell Garrett NMCA All-American Nationals in late August at Summit Motorsports Park in Ohio, where Chris put down a 4.04 to qualify in the third spot in Mickey Thompson Radial Wars, and made it to the second round of eliminations. Then, at the Aeroquip Friday Night Heads-up event in early September at Milan Dragway, Jeff led qualifying with a 4.09 in Outlaw 10.5, picked up to a 4.06 in the first round of eliminations and went on to capture another win, showcasing the strength of the team’s chassis built by Team Z Motorsports and tuned by Team Z and Skinny Kid Race Cars.
“In addition to adjusting the chassis and the four-link, and learning how to pull power out and apply power at certain areas on the track, we swapped to stiffer springs,” said Jeff. “We’re getting closer to seeing what the combination likes.”
They’ll discover where they stand at the Summit Racing Equipment Shakedown at the Summit presented by Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels, Sept. 14-17 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, where Jeff will be driving, Chris will be tuning, and both will be doing whatever it takes to earn part of the $15,800 purse in Precision Turbo & Engine Outlaw 10.5.
“This year’s combination, with the new heads and intake, is definitely making a lot more power than last year’s combination,” said Jeff. “We’re pretty confident the car will go a sub-four in the eighth-mile, which would be a nice achievement with a 10.5 slick.”