Car guys have a habit of going through vehicles like shoes. Once the new wears off, we tend to look for a new shiny pair. And while this keeps most of us happy in the short term, regret can sit-in over the long run. We know that you’ve heard someone say, “Man, I should have kept that car,” or “I wish I could get that back.” I know we’ve said it a time or two. But, for Tyler Baber, the owner of 269motorsports.com, that’s not the case as he purchased his first car and never plans on selling it.
Baber grew up in a family of gearheads. At a very early age, he remembers his grandfather telling him stories about racing cars and even watched him paint a few classics for a living. As you can imagine, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as his father was also into cars. Baber said, “I remember every weekend we would take his 1999 Trans-Am out looking for some action. I spent a lot of my childhood handing my dad tools as he modified his car, and I always wanted a fast car like my dad.”
Baber raced 125cc Rotax go-karts at a high level in his early years. However, once he turned 16, he got out of karts, transitioned to cars, and started looking for his first ride. His mind was made up, and he wanted something fast and lightweight, putting a Foxbody Mustang at the top of his list. After scouring Craigslist in 2009, Baber found a 1989 Ford Mustang, which he purchased.
The ’89 Fox was in good shape with a new paint job but missing a transmission. Baber got the car on the road in proper gearhead fashion and even added an aftermarket cam, heads, and intake to the Ford 302 cubic-inch engine. The Mustang served as his daily driver, commuting every day in high school. But just like any true performance enthusiast, it was difficult for him to leave anything alone.
Baber stepped up the 302’s power level with the help of a 70mm turbo, but he still wanted more which ultimately led to the LS transplant. “I tore the car down to a bare shell, cut every single wire out, and started over from scratch. Every part of the entire car has been replaced. That’s when the LS combo got started.” It took Baber five years to get the Fox, now known as The Notch, running. And you can see the entire build if you search @thenotch269 on social media.
Baber has been racing The Notch in test-n-tune for the last three years. And in 2021, his goal was to take the car at Holley’s LS Fest East in Bowling Green. But of course, trouble would strike as he tried to get the Mustang ready for battle. “Two months before LS Fest, I blew the engine up on the dyno,” Baber said. “So we got the new powerplant installed, and I attended one test-n-tune before the event.”
The combination for the Mustang would prove to be potent. Darren Nichols, the engine builder, stuffed the 6.0-liter LS block with all the right parts for boost, including a Texas Speed Performance (TSP) crankshaft, Wiseco Pistons, and TSP I-beam performance connecting rods. Brian Tooley Racing (BTR) was responsible for creating a custom-built camshaft for the soon to be boosted LS engine. The short block was topped off with a set of Trick Flow 220 heads, FID2000 fuel injectors, and a Holley Hi-Ram intake manifold with a Nick Williams 102mm throttle body. And when it’s go time, Baber makes adjustments to the engine with a Holley Dominator.
The exhaust system on the Mustang starts with a set of Stainless Works turbo headers which feeds into a massive 85mm BorgWarner turbocharger. A Precision Turbo wastegate valve helps keep boost levels at bay, and a Precision blowoff valve lets the pressured air out of the charge pipe when called. The incoming air is cooled off by a Treadstone 259 intercooler.
When you’re cranking out 1,200 horsepower or more, you need a drivetrain that can take some abuse. For that, Baber started with a bulletproof Rosler TH400 transmission connected to a PTC torque convertor. A Team Z Outlaw 9-inch rear end is responsible for putting all the power to the ground with the help of Strange double adjustable shocks, RC Components rear wheels, and 275/60/15-inch Mickey Thompson drag radials.
The front of the Mustang got more of the same treatment with a manual rack, Team Z control arms, The Brake Man (TBM) brakes, and a set of Menscer double adjustable front struts. In addition, the RC Components’ front wheels are wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires and set this notch off nicely.
Baber was able to make it to Holley LS Fest, where he entered the uber-competitive True Street Class. With only one event under his belt with the new combination, he was able to go round after round until he found himself in the finals and won the class with an 8.016 average. “The Stang was built around the Street Car classes, Baber explained. “Eventually, I’d like to race Drag Week with the car. However, my biggest accomplishment is, without a doubt winning True Street at LS Fest this year.” He also told us that the Mustang had gone a best of 7.897 at 173.81 mph with a 1.18 60-foot time. But stay tuned because Baber said, “It’ll go faster!” And we can’t wait to see that.