Gary Goeringer first saw this Mustang coupe as it raced in the SCCA June Sprints at Laguna Seca in 1972—and even then it was a seasoned veteran. Four years earlier, original owner Bill Maier special-ordered the car from nearby Hayward Ford, with the specific intent to go road racing, and eventually competed in A/Sedan, Trans-Am, and IMSA GT. Says Goeringer, "I really liked the car because it was a Ford in a sea of Corvettes—and I drove a Ford." Before the car was granted a breather from racing in 1979, Goeringer watched it morph from an Acapulco Blue sedan racer to a radically flared and brightly hued IMSA ride, with 377 inches of Weber-carbed 351 and Gurney Weslake cylinder heads. Little did he know that he'd be racing on the very same tracks with it years later, and for an even longer duration than the original owner.
The Mustang reappeared on Goeringer's radar screen in 1982, in need of restoration, but several opportunities for a deal were just out of reach. When the trigger was finally squeezed in 2001, the car had been meticulously restored by Chris Leibenberg's Racing Restorations, and Goeringer eagerly joined the vintage Trans Am group to rightly continue an admirable racing heritage. Along the way, Bill Maier has given valuable historical and mechanical input and enthusiastically supported the cause.
With careful preparation by Michael Thompson and others at McGee Motorsports in Sonoma, California, Goeringer is able to score frequent top-five finishes amongst a slew of historic and often more exotic Trans-Am hardware. He attributes the strong performance to the car's relatively light weight—about 50 pounds more than the 2,800 minimum—and the excellent torque, which comes from a TOE Performance–built 302 Windsor. Slightly heavier '69–'70 Boss 302s make more horsepower, but it seems that weight and torque are the equalizers here—not to mention driver skill. Maier originally raced the car with one of the earliest Shelby box intakes, which debuted in 1969, and Goeringer has stuck with the unique choice in its single-four form—for the moment, anyway. "I've got another Shelby box with the dual-quad top that my engine builder Tony Oddo is massaging a bit. I plan to give it a try one of these days."
Like any racer that runs for a number of years, the ’68 had evolved substantially from its
Other tricks of the trade include Sebring gear ratios in the Toploader four-speed and four-wheel disc brakes, first legal in Trans-Am beginning in 1968. The latter is comprised of big Lincoln calipers and discs up front and period Mustang front discs adapted for the rear. Covering the binders are true magnesium 15x8 wheels from Vintage Engineering, which the owner says trims a total of 36 precious pounds from the rolling stock compared with cast aluminum.
Maier entered several West Coast Trans-Am races from 1969–1971, yet it was understandably difficult to compete with the well-heeled factory operations. The '68 developed as time went on, running dry-deck Boss 302s from Bud Moore for several years, and eventually winning the San Francisco SCCA Regional Championship and Northern Pacific SCCA Divisional Championship for A/Sedan in 1976. That's the kind of heritage that is too good to keep locked away in a showroom, and Goeringer takes the opportunity to rip around historic road courses as much as possible, bangin' 7,500-rpm shifts with zeal. In addition to Laguna Seca and Infineon Raceway (Sears Point) near his home base, Goeringer has accompanied the vintage Trans Am group's traveling road show to places like Sebring, Watkins Glen, and Lime Rock, where the action is both fast and furious. Sure, these guys don't bang fenders quite as often as they used to (and the cars are more beautiful as a result), but bent metal and egos do still happen. It's as close to the second coming of Trans-Am's glory days as you'd hope to dream, so do yourself a favor and check them out when they come to a track near you.
Who: Gary Goeringer
What: 1968 Ford Mustang
Where: Morgan Hill, California
Engine: The vintage racing-legal 302 was built by TOE Performance and is based off a mid-'80s SVO A4 block. Cylinder heads are '66 C6FE GT40s by Tony Oddo Sr., who also modified the 750-cfm Holley and rare Shelby-box manifold for optimal airflow. The reciprocating assembly consists of a forged SVO 3.00-inch crank prepped by King's Crankshaft, Carrillo rods, and JE pistons, which help yield a 12.5:1 compression ratio. A custom solid-lifter Isky cam with proprietary specs pops the 1.88/1.625-inch valves—good enough for 475 hp at 7,500 rpm and 400 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm. Engine freshening occurs every 20 hours, and rebuilds every 40.
Transmission: Ford's Toploader is a tough-as-nails four-speed, this one being a competition "white stripe" version with Sebring gears (2.13:1, 1.56:1, 1.19:1, 1.00:1). Scott Rubin at McGee Motorsports prepped the unit, which is put in play with a Tilton 71⁄4-inch triple-disc clutch and Quartermaster aluminum flywheel.
Rearend: No surprise—it's a Ford 9-inch built by Currie Enterprises, employing a Strange nodular carrier, Daytona pinion support, Detroit Locker, and 31-spline axles. The gear ratio is generally 4.56:1, since this works well at Goeringer's home tracks of Laguna Seca and Infineon Raceway. Away races have sometimes called for a change to 4.11:1.
Chassis: The mild-steel eight-point rollcage remains as-built by Bill Maier, with additional chassis stiffening coming from seam welding of the front clip and framerails.
Suspension: Nothing fancy here, as Goeringer says he's got one of the simplest setups in the vintage grid. Up front, we find Chris Liebenberg reinforced upper and lower control arms; Global West strut rods and Del-a-Lum bushings; an adjustable, 1-inch sway bar; a blueprinted steering box; Maier Racing springs; and single, adjustable Konis. The rear consists of Maier Racing springs and shackles, Konis, and over-ride traction bars. That's it—no trick Panhard, Watts link, or rear sway bar.
Exhaust: The pipes are metallic, ceramic-coated 15⁄8-inch Hooker Super Comps, with crossover and side exits by Rolf.
Brakes: 1968 was the first year that Mustangs ran four-wheel discs in Trans-Am, and thus that's been duplicated here with period Lincoln front discs and Mustang rears. Performance Friction pads are used at all four corners.
Wheels/Tires: Magnesium 15x8-inch Vintage Engineering wheels save valuable unsprung weight, and mount Goodyear Blue Streak Sports Car Specials, 6.00-15 fronts, 7.00-15 rears.
Paint and Body: The late-'70s GT1 bodywork was removed in favor of the subtle, period-'68 Trans-Am flares, followed by fresh Acapulco Blue and White—all by Chris Leibenberg's Racing Restorations.
This advertisement from April 1969 shows the new Shelby “Ram Box” intake which Bill Maier
If you aren’t too distracted, check out the rest of the intakes from 1969. On the right ar