Project Evil 8.5 Fox Body Mustang Build Update

Project Update Articles

Project Evil 8.5 is a 1993 Fox body Ford Mustang powered by a 427 cubic inch small-block with a Vortech Xi billet supercharger built by Steve Morris Engines, sporting cylinder heads from Frankenstein Engine Dynamics. Featuring a 25.3-spec chassis and suspension components from Chassisworks, Skinny Kid Race Cars, and AFCO by Menscer shocks, Evil 8.5 will contest the popular andever-challenging Outlaw 8.5 category with the NMCA WEST and PSCA series on the west coast.

November 20, 2017

It’s been an action packed last month for us with the Dragzine Project #Evil Mustang.

Tulsa MX235 $20K Race

For some time our team had circled the calendar for the $20K “East vs. West” 8.5 tire shootout put on by MX235 luminary Jordan Grunwald, to be contested at the Throwdown at T-Town at Tulsa Raceway Park.

We rolled in the gates and — as expected — were presented with a murderers row of small-tire contenders, from Justin Cyrnek to Clint Downs. We also had some strong west coast 8.5 teammates in Ryan “Toaster” Jones, Anthony “Big Worm” Smith, and George Raygoza — all capable of running at the top of the field.

We elected to spend the day on Thursday testing and it was valuable. We carded a best run in testing of 4.70 at 156 mph, with a 1.17 60-foot. We also ran a 4.78, 4.77, 4.76, 4.75 and 4.72. Only one run was outside the 4.7X range when we got too aggressive on the starting line. With the Vortech XB105 and the Chevy 427ci small-block, we had competitive horsepower, but it was also the first time we had time on a race track of this caliber.

Qualifying proved more challenging. We were presented with a mysterious problem where the car would drop boost downtrack and we were struggling to figure it out. Ultimately we solved it, but then had a burned spark plug wire ruin our final qualifying pass. We ended up No. 13 out of 30 cars, with a 4.75 at 152.43 mph.

During eliminations on Saturday, we opened the stanza with a 4.73 round one win. In round two, we ran a 4.95 at 143 to defeat George Raygoza — in a west-versus-west battle — who spun on the starting line. Finally, we were on to the quarterfinals to face Kendall Goin. Sadly, a -.135 red light ruined a 4.71 at 153 pass which was quicker and faster than Goin’s 4.78 at 149 mph run. All in all, the rain ended the right, with the $24,000 purse being split between Goin, Cyrnek, Brian Edwards, and Client Downs.

We had a lot to be happy about in Tulsa. First, eight runs in the 4.70-range, with a best of 4.70 at 156 mph, and secondly, a level of racing consistency and ultimate proof that we belonged on the biggest stage in 8.5 racing.

Street Car Supernationals: Outlaw 8.5

The next race up was the Street Car Supernationals in Las Vegas. With tricky air and weather conditions, we were able to rip off a series of 4.70s to qualify in the No. 4 position with a 4.76 at 153. Each run presented it’s own issue — with a combination of mechanical gremlins to combine with a hamburger wrapper literally dropping in front of the left rear tire causing tire spin on our 4.76 run.

In eliminations, we chewed through a very tough field of 30 cars to get to the third round after running 4.79, 4.74 and 4.76.  In the third round, we ran Ricky Daniels and lost an incredibly close race 4.76 to 4.75. We turned it up too aggressively and spun inside the 60-foot mark, yet still only lost by .003 at the stripe.

September 27, 2017: Wiring With Racepak, MSD, And Holley

Race car wiring can be more complex than most anticipate, with water pumps, ignition, lighting, and dataloggers to be powered, then a slew of sensors to monitor everything. Wiring all these components can add weight, intricacy, and add time to the build process. Luckily, companies like Racepak offer their solid-state SmartWire system, which reduces the complexity and weight associated with race car wiring.

Producing 2000-plus horsepower through 8.5-inch tires is no easy task for Evil 8.5, our NMCA West Mustang racecar. It’s a delicate ballet of traction and power that requires the best electronics to get down the track as safely as possible. Therefore, we are pairing our race car with a slew of the compay’s 21st century electronics — a Racepak V300 data logger and SmartWire, to go along with an MSD PowerGrid 7 and Holley Dominator, which will harmoniously share data through a single set of sensors.

The V-Net sensors simply plug in front to back and are self powered. One end of the chain will run to the front of the SmartWire to input its data. Additionally, our IQ3 dash, Holley EFI, and MSD Powergrid can pick up all the sensor data to eliminate the need for duplicate sensors.

August 3, 2017: Wrapping Things Up With A Custom Vinyl Wrap For Project Evil 8.5

Our Evil 8.5 Mustang is now a fully functioning racecar with a few solid laps already underits belt in competition, but before it made its maiden voyage the car needed a little color. Rather than send it out to be painted and spend more time away from the track we decided to have a 3M vinyl wrap applied on the car from SoCal Wraps. This wrap will make Evil 8.5 stand out in the lanes and have more durability than your standard paint job, and that’s a great thing on a racecar.

Before a single piece of vinyl is cut for the wrap, a design must be created, and to do this one of the experts from SoCal Wraps, like Dalton Hutton, needs come take a look at the car. “We go to the customer and take measurements of the car’s wheel base and also get a measurement of where the door is on the car as we take photos. This is done so when we begin the process we have the correct size scaling for the car based on these measurements, it helps to ensure everything will look correct when we print the wrap and apply it.”

June 6, 2017: It’s Alive!

When you debut a new race car like we did with Evil 8.5, you never know what to expect. This weekend we made our long-awaited debut in the NMCA Outlaw 8.5 class at the NMCA WEST’s West Coast Shootout at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California, and we were pretty happy with the performance of our Vortech Xi-Billet supercharged small-block Fox-body.

18813582_1842860809264500_8200799991991840601_nWith only four test passes, we qualified number three with a 5.34 at 141 mph with some very hot weather conditions and a fairly greasy racetrack. We managed to run through to the semi-finals, where we matched up against number one qualifier George Raygoza, who had been running consistent 4.95- to 5.05-second runs. We were neck and neck with George until 200-feet, when a dash of wheel spin caused us to lose traction, with George taking a 5.05-second win to Evil 8.5’s 5.21 at 144 mph

We’re excited about the future of Evil 8.5, and while we have been humbled by the little tires, we’re pumped about all of the exciting opportunities she will present us in 2017 and beyond.

April 6, 2017: Inside ATI Performance Products’ New Bolt Together Torque Converters

The Outlaw 8.5 competition around the country has become pretty cutthroat; not surprisingly, such performances, with four-second runs all but mandatory from 3,000-plus pounds cars on a tiny tire, it’s also tough on parts. And so skimping anywhere in the build of a racecar for this kind of beating is a bad idea.

This is specially so in the driveline; we’ve assembled a supercharged engine capable of delivering the power we need while also being a reliable workhorse, and as such, it’s necessary to back it up with equally tough parts and pieces, which begins with the transmission and the torque converter. ATI Performance Products has been a part of past project builds here at Power Automedia, and we’ve once again tabbed them to supply the converter for Evil 8.5. And what a sleek piece this is, as ATI last year rolled out three new sizes of their bolt together converters — 8-, 9-, and 10-inch — to go with the 10.5-inch unit that was already on the market. We’ve acquired one of their 10-inch converters for tackling the track in 2017.


ATI’s Dave Caine summed up the bolt together best, sharing, “The bolt together converter is great for racers who are changing their combination often and it provides an extra tuning tool. For sportsman racers who race at different tracks in various conditions during the year, the bolt together converter gives them the freedom to adjust for the weather and other variables. They can loosen or tighten the converter just by changing the stator on their own so they don’t need multiple converters, or have to deal with shipping converters out to get updated. You can get the full scoop on these converters and their advantages HERE.

March 9, 2017: A Crash Course In Dry Sump Oil Pumps With Moroso

In recent project update installments, we’ve walked through the build-up of our engine at Steve Morris Engines and the subsequent dyno sessions and the numbers that came from it. In this update, we’re drilling down a little deeper, taking an up-close look at the dry sump oil pump from Moroso that was chosen for this build, and diving into the technology of dry sump pumps in general.

A Moroso five-stage Tri-Lobe dry sump oil pump on Dragzine’s small-tire drag racing project, “Evil 8.5.”

A Moroso five-stage Tri-Lobe dry sump oil pump on Dragzine’s small-tire drag racing project, “Evil 8.5.”

Dry sump oiling system are, of course, the ultimate in setups for high-horsepower racing applications, providing adequate oil supply and operation at all times in applications where a traditional wet sump just simply no longer gets the job done. With the help of Moroso’s Thor Schroeder, the full article discusses the pros and cons of wet and dry sumps — and in particular the advantages the dry sump offers to cars like Evil 8.5 — including the ease of maintenance, horsepower gains, what the various stages of a dry sump pump are and what they accomplish, and so on.

February 7, 2017: It’s All Hands On Deck

With the NMCA WEST season opener fast approaching, our team has been burning the midnight oil to get Project Evil 8.5 ready for on-track testing in preparation for competition.

With the Steve Morris-built powerplant and a long list of parts in-hand and more showing up by the day, our team has been working day in and day out to finalize the build, with the wiring and plumbing, the rear suspension and driveline, various fabrication jobs, and a host of other odds and ends left to complete before we fire the car for the first time. Testing is slated to commence later this month, and with that, we’ll have a number of articles coming down the pipeline featuring the various components and technology used in the build of this itty-bitty-tire machine.


December 6, 2016: Dyno Time: Evil 8.5’s Steve Morris Built Small Block Hits The Dyno

After months of work spec’ing and acquiring parts, our small-block powerplant has finally come together at Steve Morris Engines in Michigan, with only a few odds and ends left to cover to get it up and running. In this second installment of the engine build, we take a look at the Aeromotive Hex Drive fuel pump, the Billet Atomizer 3 injectors we’ve plumbed into the intake, along with the Holley Dominator ECU, and our Vortech V-24 Xi supercharger.


With the build wrapped, it was time to see what the new mill could do, as Morris and his team bolted it up to the dyno stand to dial-in the tune and put it through its paces. When all was said and done, the numbers were right in the ballpark where Morris predicted: 1,834 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 1,383 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm, on 22.5 pounds of boost.

November 16, 2016: Steve Morris Engines Assembles The Heart Of Project Evil 8.5

Every racecar engine is built like a full symphony orchestra, but instead of being filled with groups of different musical instruments, it consists of metal engine parts. Just like an orchestra, though, the parts must all work in direct harmony, otherwise they will never create the amazing music, or the horsepower, they were intended to create. For our Evil 8.5 project engine, we chose Steve Morris Engines to be our symphony conductor to make all of our different parts belt out some wonderful horsepower music with our small-block Chevy powerplant.

The short-block of Evil 8.5 is filled with nothing but the best from Diamond, GRP, Bryant, and Isky.

The short-block of Evil 8.5 is filled with nothing but the best from Diamond, GRP, Bryant, and Isky.

The objective for Morris on the Evil 8.5 build is to produce a motor that’s a max-effort piece, and can be as efficient as possible using the class-limited blower. When the motor is complete, the goal is to make around 1,800 to 2,000 horsepower on the dyno, while using the Vortech V-24 Xi supercharger to its full potential. For Morris, there was minimal challenge in the design process of the motor. “The engine isn’t an extremely elaborate piece, so it wasn’t hard to spec out. Outside of always making sure we had the correct camshaft profile which I design all of that myself there isn’t anything off-the-hook that’s presented any big problems or issues.”

As you can see, the finished product for Evil 8.5 is just amazing. This small-block-Chevy based beast should put big numbers down on the dyno, and rocket the Mustang to low ETs at the track!

October 26, 2016: Head Work: Evil 8.5’s Heads Get Ported At Frankenstein Racing Heads

The symmetrical exhaust port and wet flow design of the BD 2300 heads are two of its key features that help it perform so well in different boosted applications.

The symmetrical exhaust port and wet flow design of the BD 2300 heads are two of its key features that help it perform so well in different boosted applications.

The engine is a mixture of many things that equate to different organs in the body, all with different jobs, and cylinder heads would be considered part of an engine’s respiratory system since they help move the air into the machine. To accomplish this task with the small-block Chevy engine for our Project Evil 8.5 Ford Mustang, we picked out a set of Brodix BD 2300 cylinder heads that have been worked over by Chris Frank at Frankenstein Racing Heads, and outfitted with the best valvetrain parts from Manley and Jesel.

The Manley titanium valves are lightweight with beneficial mechanical properties, yield strength, tinsel strength, and fatigue strength that stand up well to the rigors of a boosted application like Evil 8.5.

Using Frankenstein Racing Heads to get the most out of our BD 2300 heads was a solid choice based on the shop’s reputation. For the past decade, Frank and his team have been working on heads for NHRA teams that run everything from Pro Stock to Top Fuel.

October 13, 2016: Project Evil 8.5’s Vortech Xi Blower And Chassisworks Gear Drive

To help produce the more than 1,400 horsepower necessary to be competitive in the Outlaw 8.5 class, we’ll be running Vortech’s potent V-24 billet Xi supercharger driven by a Chris Alston’s Chassisworks Component Gear Drive system.

To help produce the more than 1,400 horsepower necessary to be competitive in the Outlaw 8.5 class, we’ll be running Vortech’s potent V-24 billet Xi supercharger driven by a Chris Alston’s Chassisworks Component Gear Drive system.

Our Project evil 8.5 is targeted at the popular Outlaw 8.5-inch tire category and centered around a Fox body Ford Mustang, known officially here in the offices as Project Evil 8.5. The 25.3-spec car will receive its motivation from a 427 cubic inch small-block Chevrolet built by none other than Steve Morris, featuring a Brodix tall-deck block and cylinder heads, a Comp camshaft, and a laundry list of carefully-spec’ed components inside and out.

The YSi, Xi, 110, 105, and the 123 and 128 blowers all share the same V-20 supercharger gear case, allowing Vortech to compliment the same gear case with a number of different compressor stages.

Helping to deliver the kind of power we’ll need to get into the four-second zone on the smallest tire in use in heads-up drag racing, however, will be a billet Xi supercharger from our friends at Vortech, which will be driven off the Bryant crankshaft by a gear drive from Chris Alston’s Chassisworks. With the help of Vortech’s Lance Keck and Chassisworks’ Chris Alston Jr., we’re going to take a closer look at these two main ingredients to the boost in our small block mill, while we give you an up-close look at the parts and their installation into our Mustang.


June 28, 2016: Tech: Strange Engineering’s Tubular Chrome-Moly Driveshafts

All of Strange Engineering’s tubular driveshafts are made from chrome-moly steel, with diameters of 3-inch and 3.5-inch, with the primary difference coming in the weld ends and u-joint styles for varying applications.

All of Strange Engineering’s tubular driveshafts are made from chrome-moly steel, with diameters of 3-inch and 3.5-inch, with the primary difference coming in the weld ends and u-joint styles for varying applications.

When building a racecar the caliber of Evil 8.5, performance is obviously key, but durability isn’t lost on this project, and that means we need to cover any and all potential weak links. With this kind of horsepower propelling some sizable mass down the 1/8-mile, those weak links can quickly display themselves in the drivetrain, and now that we have a nearly bulletproof Turbo 400 transmission and converter for the build, the next item to check off the list — and one area you don’t want to cheap out on any racecar — is the driveshaft.

For that, we turned to Strange Engineering, who produce a lineup of tubular chrome-moly driveshafts for a range of applications, from high horsepower street cars on up 5-second Pro Modified machines. The shaft we installed in the car, a 3-inch by .083 wall piece, sports forged chrome-moly weld ends and a heavy duty u-joint, and is considered their best all-around driveshaft for vehicles in the 1,600-1,800 horsepower range. In this article, we’ve highlighted the entire tubular driveshaft lineup from Strange while discussing some of the primary advantages of chrome-moly as a driveshaft material, with expert input from Strange’s J.C. Cascio.

April 26, 2016 – Menscer, AFCO Up The Game On Custom Drag Racing Shocks


AFCO Racing and Menscer Motorsports represent two of the leading names in the racing shock absorber industry, and the fact that the two operations work in harmony with one another has led to unparalleled advances in drag racing performance. To help Evil 8.5 put all of those hundreds of horsepower to the ground through such an itty bitty tire, we opted to utilize a set of Menscers’ double-adjustable racing shocks, which are built upon a custom-designed, private label shock body that are massaged and prepared by “The Shock Wizard”, Mark Menscer.

In this in-depth tech article, we take a closer look at the shocks going on Evil 8,5, but take things a step further by diving into some of the concepts of rear shocks in drag racing applications, regarding radial versus slick setup, proper adjustment, and how these adjustable shocks really work under the cover.

November 16, 2015 – Preview: Steve Morris-built Vortech-Boosted SBC For Project Evil 8.5

Beyond the chassis itself, of course, the main ingredient to any race car is the engine, and after months of planning and acquisition of the many parts and pieces needed for the build, we’re finally ready to get cracking on the build for our 8.5-inch tire beast. For this, we’ve teamed up with Steve Morris, one of the most well-known race engine builders in the country (and the world) to apply his experience to our 427 cubic inch small-block. While Morris can do it all, his speciality over the years has been centrifugally supercharged powerplants, and so that makes him just the guy for this job.

(Left) The 9.500-inch Brodix solid-cast aluminum block, featuring 400 SBC mains, wide pan rails, and a raised camshaft location with 55 mm roller cam bearings, is strength personified. (Right) Chris Frank of Frankenstein Racing heads in Texas is collaborating with Steve Morris to spec out and design our cylinder head's chambers and ports. The heads will mate up with one of Morris' billet intake manifolds.

Our build is centered around a Brodix  9.500-inch deck-height, solid-cast block designed with strength in mind, with 400 SBC mains, wide pan rails, and a raised camshaft location with 55 mm roller cam bearings. From there, we turn to Bryant for a 4.000-inch stroke crankshaft, GRP for some 6.200-inch billet connecting rods, Moroso for the oiling system, and a whole build sheet’s worth of other components designed for all-out power in a well-restricted eliminator. We’ve got the complete lowdown on what’s to come with the engine build and the rest of the car, from the cylinder heads to the suspension setup, aftermarket bodywork, and a lot more.

Oh, and we also give you, the reader, and opportunity to share your thoughts on the final look of Evil 8.5. Check it out, and give us your feedback!


Here are a few of the different looks we’re considering for the completed car. Which one do you like best? Sound off in the comments! (Rendering provided by Justin Spencer of TYRANT Productions)

April 5, 2015 – Powerglide Or Turbo 400…Two-Speed Or Three?

Our project is in the early stages of its build-up, but we’re already well underway in acquiring the parts and pieces we’ll need to get our Mustang ready to take on the best that the Outlaw 8.5 world has to offer. One of the first components in our arsenal, and one of the most important, is the transmission. We teamed up with ATI Performance Products to help us spec and build a two-speed Turbo 400 for our supercharged, small-block engine combination.

In this tech piece, we take an in-depth look at what differentiates a two- and three-speed Turbo 400, and how a two-speed Turbo 400 compares to the venerable Powerglide from GM.

February 2, 2015 – Introducing Dragzine’s Newest Project Car: An Outlaw 8.5 Fox Body ‘Stang


On this day, we’ve launched a brand new project in the Power Automedia garage, known as Evil 8.5 This ride, a Mustang Fox body LX, is destined for the up-and-coming realm of 8.5-inch tire, heads-up racing, and we have grand plans for the newest race car in our stable. Evil 8.5 will be getting its power from a 427 cubic inch small block built by none other than noted boosted engine builder Steve Morris, and will be paired with a Vortech supercharger to deliver the power needed to run in the high four-second range.

We’ve compiled a range of suspension components from Skinny Kid Race Cars and Strange Engineering for the project, and we’ll be taking delivery of a new two-speed Turbo 400 from our friends at ATI Performance Products to back up the more than 1,000 rear wheel horsepower we’re planning to make. The project introduction (linked above) has the complete details on the build-up, and we’ll be adding more to the spec sheet as we work toward the completion and on-track launch.

About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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