"You can’t build an 8-second competitive racecar out of your home garage."
These are the words that started it all. Now, this might sound like a daring statement, but for Tommy King of Lubbock, Texas, he took it as an all-out challenge. After a local performance shop doubted Tommy’s mechanical abilities and strength to build a competitive Fox-body, he set out to prove them wrong.
Tommy’s ’90 Fox-body may not look too crazy on the outside, but underneath the factory paint is a whole new animal.
But before we get to that, let us give you a brief rundown. We are always coming across die-hard Mustang enthusiasts who have "homebuilt" rides, and we thrive on them. Tommy’s Fox caught our attention at the NMRA True-Street race in Houston this past November. Due to the endless dedication to detail and the ingenuity behind it, Tommy’s Fox sets itself apart from all the rest. But where did it all begin? How did he do it?
Tommy bought his Fox new back in 1990 at the age of 21, right after his Ford Ranger left him stranded on a first date with his girlfriend (quality alone time, right Tommy?) Once he brought his Fox home, his ride was to remain stock for the next 10 years as it served as his daily driver.
In 2000 he did the typical heads, cam, and intake swap, as well as a 150 shot of nitrous. With the factory T5, 11.3s were the norm. It wasn’t until 2007, seven years later, that Tommy would turn up the wick.
"A buddy of mine Tim Grissom and I set out to take it to the next level," said Tommy. "I could do a cam and head swap, but I needed to learn how to weld, scale a car, tune, and so on. I learned very slowly but it was worth the experience."
Underneath the hood, he ditched the factory 302 in favor of a new Ford Racing Performance Parts 302 Boss block stroked and bored to a 347. Protech Performance of Lubbock, Texas, handled the assembly of the new short-block where a Scat crankshaft and connecting rods, as well as Ross pistons lay inside. Dart Pro 1 195 heads rest atop the new block, and a Bullet Racing solid-roller camshaft is responsible for tickling the valves just right.
But what really force-feeds Tommy’s homebuilt ride is an intercooled B&W S488 (88mm) turbocharger. He also had the engine bay smoothed and painted to match the exterior.
When it came time to planning the suspension, Tommy knew just what he wanted. Wolfe Racecraft control arms were installed up front and back, as well as Strange front struts, Afco springs, Racecraft bumpsteer kit, and QA1 double-adjustable shocks. The 8.8-inch rearend houses 3.73 gears, a Strange spool, and 35-spline axles. The rear has also been mini-tubbed. Inside, the factory black interior remains, but also features a Kirkey race seat and eight-point chrome-moly cage.
To handle the added power, Tommy had Gary’s Engine and Machine build a two-speed Powerglide. A JW flexplate rests inside, as well as a 5,200-rpm stall converter; a Chiseled Performance trans cooler is used to keep things cool.
In October 2011, Tommy’s Fox had come back from the dead. After a long, cumbersome build, learning all the necessities it takes to build a racecar, his Fox rolled right off the trailer and hit the 1,320. On its first pass, it let out a 9.80 at 148 mph. With some heavy tuning by Tommy himself, a 9.10 at 155 mph was its best. Let’s not forget to mention that on 18 pounds of boost, it cranked out an astonishing 1,210 rwhp and 1,175 lb-ft of torque.
"It was a big step for me and trying to not fear the car. I didn’t want to scare myself out of the sport, so I took my time with it," Tommy told us. "From the beginning, I thought the only way to build a racecar was to do it yourself. It’s a learning experience, but it definitely pays off in the end."
Tommy plans to continue to race True Street in the upcoming 2013 NMRA race season, as well as an introduction in one of the NHRA drag radial classes. He’s still chasing that 8-second slip, but he’s bumped the boost up quite a bit and says 8s shouldn’t be a problem.
Did we forget to mention that his girlfriend from 23 years ago, the same girlfriend that was left stranded in Tommy’s Ranger, now has a ring on her finger? It’s funny the way things turn out in the end. It can be quite the struggle along the way—in more ways than one—but somehow it’s always worth the wait.
With some heavy tuning by Tommy himself, a 9.10 at 155 mph was its personal best.