Joe Caldwell’s goal is to go in the 6s at more than 200 mph and accomplish a goal that “Racin’ Jason” Betwarda planned on running, but tragically passed away before doing so. His longtime friend has brought together the car’s original builder, C&F Race Cars, and engine supplier Duttweiler Performance and brought in new players such as PSI Solutions/Frank Soldridge and RACE Wires to take aim at the mark. The car’s original pilot, Mike Ragusa, will once again be behind the wheel.
There is no doubt the Fox-body Mustang has played a tremendous role in today’s dragstrip wars, from the booming no-prep scene to even having its own dedicated drag-racing series in the NMRA sanctioning body. It has become the modern generation’s Tri-Five or first-gen Camaro—however you want to look at it. The aftermarket is still churning out parts, and the restoration side of the market is equally as impressive. But if there was a car that helped define Mustang drag racing back in the 1990s, it was the 1987 Mustang GT convertible owned by “Racin’ Jason” Betwarda.
The New York car owner was hell bent on crushing records and being the king of the Mustang drag-racing world. He was one of many determined racers of the time, which helped spawn a Mustang-spec drag-racing circuit that is still going strong today. The legendary Racin’ Jason Mustang became the first 7-second car of its kind and held the title of quickest and fastest Mustang for quite a number of years. Sadly, Betwarda was killed during a racing accident in one of his other race cars. Shortly after his passing, the legendary convertible bounced around between a few owners before it was lost in the abyss of a storage unit. The Mustang turned up a decade later in an abandoned unit in Illinois when Betwarda’s longtime friend, Joe Caldwell, saved it in 2014.
Caldwell wanted to finish what Betwarda had started, but the car hadn’t been raced in nearly 20 years. A lot has changed since then, from SFI safety requirements to simply better parts and pieces. Caldwell tapped two important companies to preserve the car’s legacy: C&F Race Cars modernized the chassis and beefed it up for the run to the 6s, while Duttweiler supplied the small-block that was once owned by Racin’ Jason and it’s fastened to a couple of Turbonetics turbos. Team Z Motorsports was another major contributor to the project.
Frank Soldridge of PSI Solutions is credited with tuning the BigStuff3 EFI system as the car produced 1,850 rwhp, which works out to roughly 2,200 hp at the crankshaft.
A Dart block with a Windsor 9.5-inch deck height is the foundation for the 2,200 hp and it displaces 405 cid. Engine builder Ken Duttweiler arrived at that displacement thanks to a 4.147-inch bore and a 3.750-inch throw on the Crower billet steel crankshaft. A set of eight Crower steel connecting rods and Diamond custom pistons (9.8:1 compression) round out the rotating assembly. Keeping the bottom-end lubricated is the job of a Billet Fabrication oil pan and Aviaid dry-sump oiling system.
A turbo engine might not need massively high-flowing cylinder heads like a naturally aspirated or nitrous-injected powerplant, but it still requires good airflow to create more than 2,000 hp. To that end, Duttweiler turned to noted NASCAR engine builder Ernie Elliot for a pair of Ford Performance Yates cylinder heads. The intake ports flow in excess of 400 cfm. The custom solid roller camshaft spec’d by Duttweiler is kept under control thanks to stiff valvesprings and T&D steel rocker arms. A Danny Bee beltdrive turns the camshaft and allows easy cam timing adjustments.
A pair of Turbonetics Y2K 88mm turbochargers pumps up the stroker Windsor engine, and initial testing was at 29 psi of boost. The turbos are capable of going up to 36 psi, by the way. A Chiseled Performance 4000-series liquid-to-air intercooler is mounted on the passenger side and feeds into an Accufab 105mm throttle-body. The intake manifold is a sheetmetal one from Wilson Manifolds.
Fuel System/Fuel Management
The engine is fed high-octane racing fuel by an Aeromotive beltdriven fuel pump and fuel pressure regulator, which feeds a set of eight Bosch 165-lb/hr fuel injectors. On the digital side, Frank Soldridge of PSI Solutions is responsible for tuning the BigStuff3 engine-management system along with a MSD Digital 7 ignition system. RACE Wires also added a Bump Box to aid the driver in staging the car and a RacePak V300 data logger.
Harnessing the horsepower is the job of an ATI Performance Powerglide with SFI-approved case. Soldridge added a Pro Torque EV1 torque converter for limited slip, but it lets the engine rev easily on the transbrake to build boost on the starting line. The power is transferred through a Strange Engineering carbon-fiber driveshaft and into a C&F Race Cars custom 9-inch housing. A set of 4.10 gears turns the massive Goodyear Eagle 33×16-inch tires, while a custom C&F Race Cars four-link system with wishbone and antiroll bar help plant the tires.
var params =
cb: (new Date()).getTime()
for(var key in params) qs.push(key+'='+encodeURIComponent(params[key]));
var p = 'https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https' : 'http';
s.src = p + "://api.content-ad.net/Scripts/widget2.aspx?" + qs.join('&');