FL2K has become an annual late-season pilgrimage for fast street cars of all varieties, including imports, exotics, muscle cars and even an electric ride or two. October in the Sunshine State normally signals the beginning of the winter race season, but this year’s event was greeted with Florida’s familiar summertime heat and humidity that both fans and racers alike had to contend with. Neither the heat nor the rain that befell Bradenton Motorsports Park on Saturday deterred fans from piling through the gates in anticipation of the action that was to happen this weekend. FL2K23 featured many of the nation’s baddest cars, and we picked out five cool rides we thought you should check out.
Danny Coots’ Coyote-Swapped 2004 Mustang
Largo, Florida’s Danny Coots debuted his Atlas Blue new-edge Mustang at the event and promptly clicked off 6-second 1/4-mile times right out of the trailer during Street Car Shoot qualifying. Tig Vision performed the chassis work on the SN95 Mustang, while Fast Forward Race Engines handled the 5.2-liter, GT500-based engine build.
Coastal Dyno is responsible for the engine tuning via the Mustang’s FuelTech FT600 ECU and also the suspension setup that allowed this pony to run a best of 6.89 at 202 mph. Backing the formidable Voodoo-based engine is a Turbo 400 from M&M Transmission, along with a torque converter by Cameron’s Torque Converter Services.
Coots only has 10 passes on the 2004 model Mustang and built it specifically for street car classes such as the Street Car Shootout at FL2K23. Friend Danny Weems is handling car chief duties at the track, and Coots told us that the car should be capable of 6.70s once they lean on it a little bit more. Coots and his Mustang sat number one in qualifying after four rounds, clicking off 6-second passes on each run. Unfortunately, he noticed an issue with the car on the final qualifying pass and had to call it for the weekend.
A subsequent teardown and inspection by Coastal Dyno’s Sam Lippencott revealed some damage to the main bearings, but he put Fast Forward Race Engines on the task of making the repairs while he installs a crankcase ventilation system to remedy the problem.
Coots told us the Mustang will be ready for battle at the upcoming Mod Nationals, which will be held at Bradenton Motorsports Park November 9-12, 2023.
Cicio Performance Twin-Turbo Audi R8
There were over half a dozen twin-turbo Audi R8s at FL2K23, and all of them sounded absolutely glorious on track with their V10 engines growling all the way down the 1320. Just about all of them that we watched ran mid-to-low 8s, but none was more eye-catching than the Kyalami Green 2022 R8 of Cicio Performance.
The R8’s 5.2-liter V10 has been fitted with Cicio’s billet intake manifold, air-to-water intercoolers and twin-turbo system, which are fabricated by Extreme Turbo Systems. The turbochargers of choice are new Xona Rotor 72mm units, and an upgraded Dodson Promax clutch ensures that the four-digit horsepower finds its way out to the Drive Shaft Shop’s upgraded axles.
Cicio performed its own in-house tuning on the Motec M1 ECU, and an Alpha brushless fuel pump supplies E85 fuel to the ID1500X fuel injectors that complement the pressurized atmosphere in the intake tract. The combined combustion events produce 1,413 horsepower and 928 lb-ft of torque, as of last year, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s making more now.
Driven at FL2K23 by Nathan Cicio, the R8 charged to an 8.23 at 189.71 mph to qualify 18th in the AWD vs DCT Street category. The Audi, however, had much more left in it, with Cicio clocking a 7.53 and a 7.60 in eliminations. With those times, he drove well past the elapsed time breakout and was eliminated from the final competition round. Class rules aside, there’s no denying that the car’s performance on track is a great representation of just what the shop can do with the Audi R8/Lamborghini Huracan platform.
Jimmy Rinehart’s 1972 Sleeper Nova
We first spotted Jimmy Rinehart’s 1972 Chevy Nova as it sat in the staging lanes. It was in the 9.50 index class lane and as we looked at the vintage patina on the car, we knew there had to be something special about it. It was whisper quiet on track thanks to its full exhaust, but the mid-9-second times it was putting up on the clocks told a very different story.
Underneath the vintage patina is a 5.3-liter engine backed by a 4L80E automatic transmission. Rinehart has built a number of LS-powered Chevy trucks, and was looking for something more classic in style and lighter in weight. The Bradenton, Florida, resident picked up this Nova, which was essentially untouched aside from the wear of 50 years or so.
Rinehart replaced the original 307 cubic inch small-block with the LS engine, which has been fitted with Trick Flow Specialties cylinder heads and a Holley intake manifold. Boosting engine performance is a Precision Turbo & Engine 76/75 turbocharger blowing through an air-to-air intercooler. Rinehart tunes the Holley Terminator X ECU and ensures that the local E85 fuel is matched to the incoming charge of atmosphere.
Built to drive, Rinehart’s Nova has entered three drag-and-drive events where Rinehart runs in the Dial Your Own (DYO) class, and it’s run a best of 9.04 seconds. He has competed in the Sick Week and Sick Summer events, and is planning on returning to Sick Week in 2024. FL2K marked the first time Rinehart tried his hand at index racing. He won the first round of competition thanks to a better reaction time than his opponent had, but unfortunately, he bowed out for round two. Hopefully, he was able to turn on his Vintage Air system and cruise home without an issue, with his sights set on Sick Week this coming January.
Sherbaz Mann’s 2JZ-GTE-Powered 180SX
A street racer turned physician and now track racer, Sherbaz Mann of Coral Springs, Florida, needed to get some seat time in a quick car while his Fox-Body Mustang is getting finished up, so he picked up this S13 Nissan 180SX, tossed in a 10-year-old 2JZ engine he had and backed it with a $1,000 Powerglide transmission to go racing at FL2K23.
The right-hand-drive 1996 Nissan was originally shipped to the Bahamas and was later floated over to the Cayman islands, where it purportedly became the quickest no-prep car around, according to Mann. He learned of the car through his tuner, Lance Holung, and purchased the Nissan. It was then shipped to the states where he and his team installed the roll cage and parachute to ready it for FL2K competition.
Mann’s S13 is the epitome of a sleeper, as it looks nothing like the low eights it is capable of in the 1/4-mile. The 2JZ engine is equipped with a 76mm turbo and Holung tunes the combination using an AEM engine management system. The Powerglide is a simple, tried-and-true transmission that sends power back to a ‘90s era Infiniti Q45 IRS rearend, and the 2,810-pound car has been 1.24 to the 60-foot clocks.
Mann put Jonathan Crossan in the driver’s seat for the event, but the Cayman island-based hotshoe lost a close first-round battle to eventual FL2K23 True Street Shootout class winner Michael Chambley, 8.28 to 8.13. Mann intends to give the 180SX a full rebuild in the near future and we’re sure sevens will be the goal.
Salvatore Mula’s LS-Swapped 1970 Chevelle
As you can tell from the Top 5 list already, there was a wide variety of vehicles in attendance at the FL2K23 event, but when we saw Salvatore Mula’s shimmering silver Chevelle rolling down the staging lanes, we had to check out the classic muscle machine more closely.
Mula wanted a streetable, 9-second car and bought this original Super Sport Chevelle out of a museum in Orlando, Florida. Try as he might with the non-numbers-matching, big-block, four-speed combination that was in the car, he didn’t quite get to the nines. The Savannah, Georgia, resident turned to Stathas Racing and Performance for a combination that would provide the performance and the street manners he desired.
The company whipped up a 408 cubic-inch, LS-based engine that is fortified with Manley Performance internals and equipped with a Brian Tooley Racing cylinder heads and cam combination. An S488 Pulsar T6 turbocharger blows through an air-to-air intercooler and Nick Stathas tunes the Holley EFI to match the incoming air charged with the appropriate amount of Renegade Pro 116 fuel.
While Mula loves driving a stick shift, his Chevelle has been fitted with an FTI Turbo 400 automatic transmission that sends the 1,100 or so horsepower back to a Quick Performance 9-inch rearend. Mula told us that the Chevelle weighs in at 3,660 pounds with driver, which in today’s modern muscle era is at the lighter end of race weight. His Chevelle had clocked a 10.20 early in the weekend at FL2K23 and he was hoping for a 9.50.
In addition to racing in All Steel All Glass classes and grudge races, Mula said he occasionally drives it to Cars & Coffee and church, as well.