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2007 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 - It's On Corn

Dan Schoneck's supercharged, 1,000HP, SMOTY-winning, E85-devouring Shelby GT500

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There is a subtle shift occurring in car crafting. The '08 Car Craft Summer Nationals played it out in sharp detail for those who notice. It isn't exactly a disturbance in The Force but present nonetheless. The majority of cars are familiar machines powered by '60s monster-cubed engines thumping the ground with nasty cams that sound like they could make at least 1,000 hp at the flywheel. The alternate beat was also there. It embraces the new generation of engines that has been powering Detroit for the past decade. An example is Dan Schoneck's mild-mannered '07 Shelby Mustang. Nothing protrudes through the hood, and its idle quality could almost be described as mild. It has a bark to it, yet it cloaks a more sinister power level.

During all this commotion at the Nationals, Dynotune USA's Andy Wicks mentions, "Hey, I know this guy Dan Schoneck who owns a Mustang that should be part of your Street Machine of the Year competition." We agree, with no knowledge of what's under the hood. It's a late-model Shelby, so it's not to be taken lightly, but we're also thinking, How bad can it be? The Shelby idles up to the parking lot in front of the chassis dyno and Dan and Andy trade insults that only friends are allowed to fling. Dan signs the paperwork to enter our event while Andy backs up the Mustang onto the chassis dyno.

Dan asks, "I can run the nitrous, right?" We have no rules about multiple power-adders, so I say, "Sure, go for it," while Andy spins the motor up on the dyno to put some heat in the engine. Chassis dyno veterans instantly recognize the distinctive characteristic all high-horsepower engines make on the dyno-they spin up fast.

Once Dan's Mustang is up on the cam, Andy hits the loud pedal and the Mustang surges for about two seconds-zip-bang-and the run is over. I try to catch the peak horsepower number up on the screen but notice Dan looks puzzled. "The nitrous didn't hit," Andy says. Nevertheless, the peak horsepower number is still a stunning 817 at the rear wheels. Anyone else would probably be thrilled, yet Dan is disappointed. They try one more pass, but the nitrous still doesn't trigger, so Dan has to be content with 800-plus. "It should have made 900," Dan says. "That was just a conservative hundred shot." We decide to take a closer look under the hood.

Stock Shelby GT500 Mustangs come with a blower-but not like this one. The OE Eaton package is gone, replaced with a centrally mounted ProCharger and tied directly into a custom-fabbed intake plenum that sits in place of the old blower.

"The hardest part of this whole install was that composite intake tube," Dan says. He should know, since he and his brother, Derek, own and operate Schoneck Composites, a company they run out of an old lumber building in tiny Minnesota Lake, Minnesota. Try to find nearby Mapleton first because Dan's town is not much more than a pair of burnout marks off Highway 22. Unless Dan gives you directions, you'll never find the shop. How laid-back is it? After 10 p.m., the bar in Mapleton has the closest food that doesn't come in a can. The Schoneck boys are regulars there.

But whatever calmness their rural residence provides is routinely shattered by the resonance of hundreds of thundering Mod-motor ponies. Therein lies the subtle shift we see between the old horsepower formula and where Dan is headed. He's made as much as 860 on the chassis dyno before, which means the 5.4L Ford motor is pushing 1,000-plus at the flywheel. And still, this Mustang could almost be described as pedestrian from the outside looking in. Sure, it's a little hard to start when the engine's cold-not because the Diablo tuner cold start isn't finalized but more likely because it burns E85. But that's the clinical term. Dan just says, "It runs on corn."

This is the magic fuel elixir that isn't difficult to find in Minnesota. Dan is literally surrounded by fields of potential ethanol. With an octane rating of around 105, it's stout enough to help him make a big horsepower number from a relatively small-displacement engine. We're only talking about a 5.4L engine. Do the math and the number equates to an impossibly small 331 ci, creating a devastating 3 hp/ci with the supercharger. Digging deeper, Dan is happy to tell you this isn't even close to a wild engine. The heads are just OE versions blessed with a brace of Ford GT DOHC cams. Dan's plan revolves around the one-two punch of a big ProCharger blower and the inescapable notion that four valves do a better job than just two.

Add cubic yards of air volume and 28 psi from the ProCharger F-1R blower with massive 160 lb/hr injectors (corn, remember?) and you have all the ingredients for monster power. Beck Mechanical in Texas built the fabricated lid that fits over the factory supercharger air-to-water intercooler. The now much larger intercooler reservoir is located where the battery used to sit up front in a fabricated tank built by Mark Wilkerson and the crew at RaceCraft in Madison Lake, Minnesota.

But the blower didn't just bolt in place. In fact, Dan says the Internet boobirds all said the F-1R couldn't be bolted to the 5.4L, which was all the motivation he needed to make it happen. Ford DOHC motors are wide, heavy engines stuffed into ponycar engine compartments, so there's not much real estate to squeeze in a blower, a drivebelt, and intercooler tanks. First Dan had to remove a couple of tubes from the radiator to plumb the 41/2-inch carbon-fiber tube from the air cleaner to the blower. This also demanded a custom mount and 10-rib blower pulley. Starting with an offset 12-rib pulley, Dan had APT Machine remove the rear flange, trim two ribs, and fabricate a new inner flange along with new blower mount spacers. Finally, the carbon-fiber tube started out as a piece of hardware-store PVC tube. Dan and Derek used it as a mold to make the tube with two layers of carbon fiber and Kevlar to give it strength. Then painter Dane Schendal coated it with epoxy clear. Dan says it sounds easier to make than it is, and he estimates with time and material, it cost him $2,500.

There's also the ordeal around building the return-style fuel system. Most of the aggravation settled around the Shelby's twin fuel tanks that straddle the driveshaft hump. While the MagnaFuel pump is the main fuel mover, Dan also uses a stock Mustang GT pump in the passenger side to transfer fuel to the driver-side tank along with return lines plumbed in as well. It's complicated, but it works. The main hassle, Dan says, is the blown 5.4 burns E85 at a prodigious rate and because the twin tanks don't fill well, the system balks at quick fuel stops.

Stories abound on this car, which is what makes it entertaining. Even the car itself didn't present itself in the normal way. Dan seeks out wrecked Mustangs as potential rebuilds, and he found one online that had been tagged hard in the rear with barely 2,200 miles on the clock. He rearranged the wrinkled sheetmetal and sold the original engine, building this one out of a similar iron-block 5.4L. With all this potential power, it required some additional modifications. The Car Craft Street Machine of the Year competition demanded that this car handle, and Dan's car just happened to be outfitted with a complete RaceCraft tubular front K-member and control arms. He retained the stock steering rack but added KW shocks and springs on all four corners. In the rear, RaceCraft supplied a Panhard bar, control arms, and an upper link.

Dan figured the stock Shelby Tremec six-speed would hold up with some careful tricks played by 6 Speeds but that the stock 8.8 would not be nearly as reliable. He went the classic Ford route with a complete RaceCraft 9-inch fitted with a 3.50:1 cog. This made it durable, so the next step could be bigger tires and wheels. Again, this all fit well into the Street Machine of the Year competition because handling and braking were the other two contests after the chassis dyno test. As this is a Shelby, Dan didn't have to go anywhere for excellent calipers and rotors, since 14-inch Brembos come stock on these cars along with slightly smaller discs in the rear. Steamroller rubber makes putting all that power to the ground much easier, so Dan went with a set of massive 20-inch Weld wheels in the rear mounted with a pair of Nitto Drag Radials.

All this barely contained kinetic energy didn't hamper Dan's ability to negotiate the autocross. After a few laps on Sunday as practice, he laid down sufficient laps to place Fifth overall, but because the late-model class was so competitive, winning the braking contest with an ABS-assisted 117-foot stopping distance combined with his Second Place dyno run with 817 hp was enough to squeak out a win over John King's Mustang, who also happens to be one of Dan's customers.

This is not the last challenge Dan wants to push the Shelby through. He has rather lofty expectations for this machine. We spoke to him days before we went to print and there's a new motor in the car now-an aluminum Ford GT 5.4 block with Fox Lake-ported heads, John Mihovetz-spec'd cams, and a similar rotator package. With the additional power, Dan wants this Shelby to be the first to run 9.80s on 20-inch radials and then take it to the Texas Mile event to be the first GT500 to run 210 mph in the standing-mile competition. He figures it'll take 1,000 rwhp to make it happen. And he's gonna do it all on corn.

Dan had just acquired a Ford GT chassis and is going to build carbon-fiber replacement body panels for the Ford Supercar.

Tech Notes
Who: Dan Schoneck
What: '07 Ford Shelby GT500
Where: Minnesota Lake, Minnesota-just south of Mankato, home of Mankato State University, which used to be known as a real party school.

Engine:
Dan used an iron 5.4L Ford Mod to house a stock crank, Manley billet steel rods, Diamond 8.7:1 compression pistons, and an Innovators West 7.8-inch balancer (to overdrive the blower). What's amazing is the 32-valve DOHC Ford heads are OE-fresh with 1.45/1.26-inch intake and exhaust valves using only a set of Ford GT camshafts to help the induction process.

Induction/Exhaust:
The primary focus of this whole power play is placed squarely on the ProCharger F-1R supercharger that's capable of 28 psi of boost. That seems like tons of intake pressure, but Dan's learned that using E85's excellent latent heat of vaporization advantages combined with a Beck Mechanical hat that fits over the factory intercooler keeps the boost at a manageable temperature to fend off the detonation monster. All that boost is of little help if the exhaust system isn't just as efficient, so Dan employs Stainless Works 17/8-inch headers to lead directly into a Stainless Works 3-inch exhaust system.

Transmission:
With all that power, you have to pay attention to the clutch. Dan chose a McLeod twin-disc system that feeds into the original Shelby Tremec six-speed that has been carefully Mikronited and cryogenically chilled by 6 Speeds. The Mustang also uses a Drive Shaft Shop 31/2-inch aluminum driveshaft.

Rearend:
Dan pitched the original 8.8 in favor of a narrowed RaceCraft 9-inch housing that is stuffed with massive 35-spline Mark Williams axles that slip into a Lenco billet locker differential spinning a set of 3.50:1 Strange gears.

Suspension: You'd think '07 Shelby handling bits would be sufficient, but Dan decided to drop the stock K-member in favor of a tubular unit from RaceCraft along with tubular control arms. Matching pieces in the rear include a RaceCraft Panhard bar and tubular chrome-moly control arms. All the pieces are adjustable so Dan can fine-tune the handling. KW shocks and springs polish off the jounce and rebound duties.

Brakes: Stock Shelbys come with massive 14-inch rotors and four-piston Brembo calipers for the front with two-piston rear calipers and 11.8-inch discs.

Wheels/Tires: Dan wanted the biggest wheel and tire package he could squeeze under the Shelby and managed to be in the right place at the right time to hook up a pair of 19x8-inch Weld BC-10 wheels to mount a pair of Nitto 275/35R19-inch 555 tires. "Nittos are the only drag radials I run on my drivers," Dan says, leaving the question of size to what would fit. He managed to wiggle a massive pair of 305/35R20-inch Nittos under the rear wheelwells mounted on Weld 20x10.5-inch wheels. The original Shelby sported 18x9-inch wheels with 255/40R18 and 285/40R18 tires front and rear.

Interior: New cars generally make too many mods difficult, so Dan limited his changes to a set of Auto Meter Cobalt gauges that include a tach-driven shift light, a boost gauge, and a wideband air/fuel ratio monitor. The only other nonstock piece is a Ford Motorsports shifter.

Crew: Dan had lots of help building this car, starting with his brother, Derek, his girlfriend, Andrea Adams, his mom, Mary Kay (who Dan says is also a real car freak), Beck Mechanical, Mark Wilkerson, everybody at RaceCraft, and Diablo and Andy Wicks at DynoTune USA, who helped with tuning.

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