With six events completed in its 10-race 2013 schedule, the American Drag Racing League's revolutionary new SuperCar Showdown category has attracted 15 different competitors driving the world's quickest and fastest accelerating production vehicles. Beyond all other machines, however, it was the newest entrant which stunned fans and even other racers in its debut at the recent ADRL Summer Drags VIII at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan.
When a brand new 2013 Ford Mustang Super Cobra Jet was driven out of the trailer by renowned Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Wes Wells during the event's technical inspection, it attracted a crowd of onlookers which included everybody from fans to the ADRL's highest-ranking officials. Even drivers and mechanics from the association's other categories marveled at the magnificent technology of the black Ford.
Although the car had only been driven from the showroom floor to the transporter at the Indianapolis-based Ray Skillman Ford dealership, few observers were willing to believe the car had been untouched since leaving the Ford Cobra Jet assembly line until they witnessed the plastic being removed from the interior and tags being removed from the engine bay, interior and trunk.
In fact, it was Ford engine designer and fellow SuperCar Showdown racer Jimmy Ronzello who made it possible for the Skillman team to compete when he delivered the all-important "Wide Open Throttle" computer tune to allow the car to run at its full potential. Drew Skillman, who raced to a runner-up finish at the Summer Drags wheeling his familiar white 2012 Mustang Cobra Jet, admitted when he arrived at the track the team might not compete because, as Drew noted, "These cars are sold with what might be considered a 'valet tune' which keeps the engine well below full power. It's designed to allow a customer who is not familiar with the incredible power of these cars to get a feel for it before actually taking it to the track. We didn't have the alternate 'wide open' tune with us when we left the shop and it was Jimmy who delivered the tune straight from Ford so we could even race in the car's debut!."
The SuperCar Showdown is the sport's only category to feature unrestricted competition among production vehicles from all global manufacturers. The cars must remain as they are produced, delivered and sold by dealerships. However, manipulation of any factory-built electronic operating system, including those which control air/fuel mixture and valve timing, is permitted. Incredibly, Wells and Skillman elected to not modify those parameters. Said Skillman, "We don't know enough about the new car to know what to change. The new 5.0-liter engine is a completely new product. The supercharger is a new 2.9-liter FRPP unit. For the car's public debut, we decided to just run it as it came from the factory straight off our showroom floor. We just elected to trust the Ford engineers".
The following day, the new black 2013 model fired up in front of fans under the watchful eye of Ford Racing's Jesse Kershaw, who was besieged by print and electronic media, (all of whom had questions about the new Super Cobra Jet), from the moment he stepped out of his new Ford Flex. Wells, a longtime employee of the huge chain of Skillman dealerships and a test driver for the team's 2012 Mustangs, entertained onlookers by displaying the new model's electric power steering while driving the car into its pit stall using only one finger on the new removable steering wheel.
All eyes, (and cameras), were on the new Ford when Wells pulled onto the track for the Cobra Jet's maiden voyage. After heating the Mustang's nine inch-wide rear tires in a monstrous burnout, Wells moved to the starting line and, on the car's first launch, lifted the left front wheel several inches off the concrete. In a blast which never varied from a perfectly straight path, the scoreboards issued the verdict on the newest SuperCar; the Mustang covered the eighth-mile distance in 6.02 seconds with a speed at the finish line of 115.96 miles per hour. The crowd erupted in cheers while other SCS competitors simply gasped.
Ford Racing's Jesse Kershaw
Most elated of all was Kershaw; earlier, he had made clear the point of the new Cobra Jet to dominate the ADRL's SuperCar Showdown series even more than the manufacturer's clean sweep of 2012 events to date. "That run was the culmination of an incredible amount of effort by Ford employees", said an obviously satisfied Kershaw. "That's what we came here to do".
Eventually, Wells would make five runs within five hundredths of a second and achieve a best of 6.00 seconds at a speed of 117.31 mph en route to semi-final finish in the car's first competition outing. In comparison, the quickest and fastest performance clocked during the event came from Indiana's Bo Butner whose 2012 Cobra Jet won its fourth title in six events this season with an eighth-mile run of 5.77 seconds at 119.00 seconds.
Yet, Butner was one of the first to comment on the 2013 Mustang during his winner's circle interview. "I guess I'm going to have get one of those... real soon!", said Butner, referring to the Skillman Ford. "Wes ran within a quarter of a second of us during the race and that new Super Cobra Jet is still using the factory-installed 'tune up' and the car's original 3.91:1 rear gear ratio. That's just incredible performance. With just a bit of tuning, that car will be unbelievable. I'm not kidding; it's going to be scary how fast that car will be".
Using conventional conversion formulas, the Super Cobra Jet's eighth-mile clocking of 6.00 seconds showed a quarter-mile performance of 9.41 seconds. Six days later, Drew Skillman's father, Bill, drove the still-unmodified 2013 Mustang in an event, which allowed a substantial weight reduction of 350 pounds which should offer a theoretical advantage of 0.35 seconds. Sure enough, the Mustang responded with a best of 9.05 seconds at 150.13 mph in the quarter-mile while covering the eighth-mile in 5.79 seconds at 120.32 mph!
Skillman has revealed the arrival of a second 2013 Mustang Cobra Jet destined for SuperCar Showdown competition. "We just took delivery of a white model", said Skillman from the shop of the Ray Skillman Performance Ford dealership, "and we want to have it out on the track as soon as possible. The response we got from the fans at the Summer Drags was amazing; everybody was so excited just to see the new Mustang up close and everybody had so many questions. Now, it's up to us to develop the real potential of this car. The possibilities are staggering".
For an in-depth look at the new 2013 Ford Mustang Super Cobra Jet, check out ADRL's exclusive video coverage of the car's debut at http://adrl.tv/?woo_video=up-close-look-at-the-2013-cobra-jet.
To take a ride with driver Wes Wells on the first run of the 2013 Ford Mustang Super Cobra Jet, go to http://adrl.tv/?woo_video=2013-cobra-jet-first-pass.
The next event on the 2012 American Drag Racing League tour will be DragStock IX to be held at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, on August 3-4.