Our idea was simple-take a group of late-model Fords, just like many of you own, and offer the opportunity to compete in yet another MM&FF shootout, this one combining road course, dragstrip, and a subjective portion of the competition, to be judged by our staff. With three distinct portions of the event laid out, we set up and finalized the rules, and the stage was set for the first-ever MM&FF Triple-Threat Throwdown (TTT).
This shootout was open to any '79-newer Ford, with any Ford engine/power adder combination. The rules were based around "real" street cars (not race cars) running on DOT-legal tires (for at least one of the two racing events). They also had to be registered and insured, and NHRA-legal for the quarter-mile times they ran, and we wanted drivers who had some on-track experience. Being fast on the dragstrip is one thing, but flying around a road course takes driver training, plus a good amount of skill. A competition like this is no place for first-timers. Even one of our aces managed an off-track excursion (more on that later).
With over 30 submissions, the selection process was extremely difficult. There were all types of Stangs: a ton of GT500s, some SN-95s, fewer S197 GTs (we expected a ton), and even fewer Foxes, which was a disappointment. After narrowing it down to the six Mustangs best suited for the competition (and our story), we headed to Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida. Contestants traveled from as far as Baytown, Texas, and Richmond, Virginia, to take part in one of Muscle Mustangs' famed shootouts.
Hit the Track
The TTT began on the famed quarter-mile. Competitors had five attempts to rip off their runs, and we took the best three times, which were then averaged to get each driver's finishing place. Once we were finished at the strip, we headed to the road course where drivers had two sessions (five laps each session) to clock their quickest times. Again, the three best times (from any session) were averaged to achieve the final score.
Throughout the day, the MM&FF staff poured over the entries to score each car in seven areas, including exterior appearance, uniqueness, wheels/tires/stance, interior appearance, underhood appearance, driveability, and creature comforts. Each section of the competition was weighed equally, with 60 points going to the best performing car in each category: dragstrip, road course, and the judged section. The Second Place finisher in each category received 50 points, and so on.
And it didn't take long for the drama to start. On this hot day in Florida, the horsepower and the sweat was oozing. Not long after the first few quarter-mile runs, there was a driver substitute (which was allowed) that produced the best e.t. of the day, along with thrashing in the pits, tire swaps, and a wiped-out clutch. At first, drivers struggled to get in the 11s, but by mid-afternoon many had broke the 12-second barrier.
Over on the road course, which is somewhat small in nature, especially for high-powered cars, the Mustangs tore it up, recording some amazing times and providing some great action. We used our MSD G2X to record lap times and our Canon cameras to capture the on-track antics-of which there were many. Our road course winner showed us how much he likes to play in the mud, and tire issues combined with some minor body rub/damage almost sidelined another competitor. In the end, the competition was very close, actually closer than we anticipated.
By sundown we had completed a full day of racing, both the straight and twisty kind, and all six cars survived, at least enough to be driven home. We had a great group of people and couldn't have asked for more. The first Triple Threat Throwdown was a success, and we're already planning the next shootout. Please be sure to let us know what you think by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!