It's no secret that Jack Roush got his start on the mean streets of Detroit, running hard with a Ford Falcon and then with some pretty serious drag-race machines such as his Gapp & Roush four-door Pro Stock Maverick. More recently, Roush has been busy winning in NASCAR, developing technology for major automotive manufacturers, and most importantly, producing popular Roush Mustangs and Roush performance parts. His Stage 1, 2, and 3 model Mustangs offer aggressive styling, increased power, improved braking, and tighter handling. Time and time again, we've been impressed with the packages, as each one has fulfilled the promise of performance, style, and speed. Like most racers, Roush is never satisfied, so he asked his team to develop a new Roush Mustang package-one designed to kick butt on the dragstrip.
Enter the '07 Roush Drag Pak, a serious strip Stang that puts the icing on the Roush Mustang cake. More specifically, the Drag Pak is a special edition of which 50 units will be built and sold exclusively through Brandon Ford in Brandon, Florida (near Tampa). The Drag Pak hits directly on the heels of the Blackjack, the Roush Roadster, and the 427R. It's based on the Stage 3 package and it cuts to the chase with a 430hp Three-Valve engine that features a RoushCharger, hotter gears, tuned suspension, free-flowing exhaust, and a host of drag racing-specific goodies including lightweight rear rims and slicks.
"When we returned to having a drag-racing program last year, I challenged my team to build a car that can be driven to the track, have the tires changed to slicks, and perform on the dragstrip," Roush says. "This Drag Pak Mustang is the culmination of those efforts."
And there is plenty of "go" in the Drag Pak thanks to the intercooled RoushCharger that makes 6 psi of boost with a reduced-diameter drive pulley. It also features a custom intake manifold, an air induction system, and a performance-calibrated ECM. The blown 4.6 connects to a performance exhaust (a straight-pipe exhaust is optional but not street-legal) along with a Drag Pak flywheel, clutch, and a one-piece driveshaft with safety loop. An SFI-approved bellhousing is optional, but the polished 4.10 gears, Roush 31-spline axles, and Roush rear cover are standard. Additionally, Roush fortifies the rearend by welding the axle tubes to the housing center.
According to John Clark of Roush, "The Drag Pak comes as a direct result of more than a year's worth of testing, research, and development for the Roush Competition Line of performance parts. This '07 model is based off the flagship Stage 3 and is designed for safety, durability, and adjustability."
Our first chance to drop the clutch came in Florida this past March when we ripped some gears during the season-opening NMRA event in Bradenton. Under the Florida sun we produced a best of 12.46 (with slicks), however, we didn't unlock the Drag Pak's full potential. The weather was quite hot and we didn't have the opportunity to cool the engine between runs. In addition, we didn't do any tuning of the adjustable suspension.
Looking for more, we suggested to Clark that 11s were possible if we could test the car at our home track-Englishtown's Raceway Park. His interest was piqued.
Without wasting time, Clark granted our wish and the same black Drag Pak Mustang was unloaded from an enclosed car hauler in the parking lot at MM&FF Command Central-and a track day was set.
With cooler conditions (temperatures in the 60s versus the high 80s) we ventured to E-town and installed the Mickey Thompson 26x10-inch slicks mounted on the aforementioned Roush wheels. Next, we heated the tires, staged, and let 'er rip at 5,000 rpm. The tires spun through First gear, but it still accelerated hard, and the wheelspin didn't kill our 60-foot time. What did hurt us was the shifter/clutch combination that just plain gave us fits. It seemed as if the clutch wasn't disengaging fully, and we found it difficult to quickly ram gears. We had the same problem during testing of the Stage 3 Stang featured in the Oct. '06 issue.
Supplied with each car are Mickey Thompson 26x10-inch ET Drag slicks on Roush wheels. Thes
For the street, the Drag Pak wears five-spoke Roush wheels with Cooper Zeon 2XS 275/40/18-
Prior to each run, we set the line-lock (which is either dealer or customer installed) and
After going full loose on the front struts and tightening the back shocks, we revved the e
Unlike most drag machines that have spartan interiors, the Roush Drag Pak goes upscale wit
Not wanting to miss a gear, we pressed the clutch pedal to the carpet and carefully eased the handle through the gates in "granny-style fashion." The result was a 12.12 at 113.97 mph. Not bad, but not 11s.
On a good note, the Drag Pak is equipped with a highly adjustable suspension that includes a bevy of BMR rear-suspension links and Roush-spec adjustable dampers. We dove in and set the front struts in the "loose" position, thus allowing plenty of front-end rise, and we tightened the rear shocks to ease the hit at the tires. The adjustments were enough to let the big front tires rise away from Mother Earth and for the 60-foot times to improve. The trunk-mounted battery was also a big plus in the weight-transfer department.
The changes gave us 60-foot times in the 1.70 range and a best of 1.68. If there's a downside, it's that the rod ends on the control arms are noisy on the street. But this is a track car, and on track we netted a string of 12.0 runs at 114 mph. Better, but still not in the coveted 11s.
Realizing our slow-shifting ways were costing valuable e.t., we decided to go for it. On the next pass we revved the 4.6 to an even 4,000, let it fly, and powershifted with wild aggression. Amazingly, the shifter jammed through the prescribed path and we engaged all four gears, each time at 6,700 rpm, as noted by the big Drag Pak tach with adjustable shift light. Shifting so high is possible because Roush engineers raised the rev limiter to let you take advantage of all 430 ponies. The 4.10s don't hurt either, as they let the engine rev nicely to the 7,000 redline.
Before we knew it, we were in Fourth heading for the 1,320 mark, and crossing the stripe brought a smile as the Drag Pak covered the distance in 11.92 seconds at 115 mph. A couple of backup runs netted an 11.93 and a quicker 11.91, all at a weight of 3,870 pounds with driver. We consider that to be pretty fast for an emissions-legal factory Mustang that you can buy new with a warranty.
While the MM&FF staff was proud to accomplish the mission, the Drag Pak Mustang could be quicker if Roush shed some of the unnecessary content. Classically, drag-optioned cars are void of (or could be ordered without) unnecessary items and/or expensive options that don't drastically enhance performance. This isn't the case with the Roush Drag Pak.
Our black test car had the optional leather seats. They were quite comfortable, but we won
The base sticker price on a Drag Pak Mustang is roughly $58,720. That gets you a 430hp, 11-second Mustang that can be driven to and from the track with no hassle. While it's not cheap, you'd spend a pretty penny adding all the mods to a Mustang GT, and most would also have to pay for labor and tuning. Plus, the mods could void your factory warranty. So, for under $60,000 you get quite a lot of mods in a scienced-out package.
Nevertheless, our fully optioned Drag Pak tester rocked the wallet with a sticker price of $83,581! Expensive, you bet, but hey, don't shoot the messenger. This included $8,300 worth of carbon-fiber hood and fenders, and a $5,000 shifter fork/SFI-approved bellhousing option, amongst other things. We'll admit the carbon hood and fenders make a neat option, but it's one we can live without. We can also live without the four-point structure bar, which, like the carbon, is not street legal (as stated by Roush). We'd also delete the massive 14-inch front brakes, yank the front sway bar, and install skinny front tires. And you can keep the A/C, radio, sound deadening and the back seat, too. Our decontented Drag Pak would be capable of 11.60s or better, and that would put it solidly ahead of a stock Shelby GT500.
Overall, we're really enjoying the Drag Pak Mustang. It drew a crowd wherever we went, and the 430-horse 4.6 proves to be ultra-torquey right in the meat of the curve, where we like it. This car is an absolute blast, whether we're on the street or at the track. And while we'd love to write more, we have to split because the track opens in two hours.
Although the retro shifter looks cool, it doesn't shift smoothly. The clutch was stiffer t
This black bandit also had the optional four-point rollbar with adjustable seatback brace.
We did like the big tach with adjustable shift light and the brake-pressure gauge, which h
The Monster 14-inch front brake upgrade is awesome on the street, but it should be deleted
Standard are white-faced electro-luminescent gauges.
|On The Strip|
|*Runs made using powershift technique.|
|**Run made on Cooper Zeon 2XS 275/40/18-inch tires|
10 Minutes With Jack Roush
Evan J. Smith: Jack, thanks for sitting down with us. I have a few questions about the Drag Pak Mustang and the direction of Roush Performance.
Jack Roush: The Drag Pak Mustang for 2007 is on the floor. The 50 cars that we plan to build have been sold to Brandon Ford [Tampa, Florida]. I have a short list of the things I want to tweak on for additional potential before the package release of the car. We'll see how they're accepted and if they show up on the racetracks. We'll see the results people get and what they think. If there is a demand, we'll do another run which will have some additional equipment.
The new Mustang is so exciting and so reminiscent to what happened in the mid-to-late-'60s with Ford Motor Company and musclecars. I said, "Wow! This is such an exciting car, it should be on a dragstrip." The public would really enjoy having something that would be a reasonable starting point for a Drag Pak car. I thought of the '68 Drag Pack cars that Ford did, and they were all white at that time, battery in the back, 31-spline axles, a Detroit Locker, a 4.10 or 4.30 gear, a scattershield, a heavy clutch, and away you went.
So, this past summer  we made over 200 passes on our development car. We wanted to improve the suspension, the safety equipment, the clutch, and the transmission, and we got everything pretty much OK. We made little changes in the transmission with some of the shift forks, made a shifter with the Reverse and Fifth-gear lock-out feature, and rolled that in the package, and it's less than $60,000 for a brand-new Ford, if you want a place to start.
The other thing that's really exciting is that there's so much room left in the car. It still has its power windows, power seats, air conditioning, heater EVAC system, stock K-member front suspension-all those things that make up unnecessary weight for something you're going to take to the dragstrip. It's all there for the person who gets the car to decontent it, and when you do that, it will go at least another half second faster than the high 11-second category that we've got it released at.
Roush's Drag Pak is enhanced by a RoushCharger pushing 6 psi of intercooled boost. The pac
EJS: You have a lot of the excitement towards the new Mustang platform. What do you think the advantage is over the '99-'04 SN-95 Mustangs?
JR: I think it's the styling thing. The first thing I'll say is that I never saw a Mustang I didn't like.
EJS: Even a Mustang II?
JR: A Mustang II. I drove a Pro Stock Mustang II that's a favorite car in our museum. We don't have it totally restored, but I've got the car that I drove in 1974. I know that was not a popular car for a lot of people. Some people thought when they made the wheelbase longer in 1971 that was a mistake, but those are Mustangs that at a point in time were exactly what I think the public needed and what Ford thought they wanted to be morphed into. Going back to the '67-'68 Mustangs for the styling cues, and this new car that we sold in 2005 first-and it's carried into 2006 and beyond-it certainly tugs at my heart strings. For the folks that were there and saw, and enjoy seeing, the cars from that era, it provides the continuity and momentum to the Mustang brand.
EJS: You got your start in drag racing, and it seems that after years of road racing and being in NASCAR, you're now getting back into drag racing. You are an icon in NASCAR and everybody knows that. And now your involvement in NMRA is obviously increasing, or so it seems. Where do you see the future of Roush in drag racing?
JR: First of all,let me say that I think that a race car in any series-be it on a round track, at Pike's Peak, Bonneville, drag racing, or stock car racing-should have doors. So the idea of us changing our emphasis from, say, a doorslammer series to whatever it might be, like to a formula car series, that's not going to happen.
Mustang was there for me, and I went to work for Ford right out of college. I was in the Dearborn assembly plant by June 1964 and they started production in April, so Mustangs have been a part of my racing career as well as my business life for the last 45 years-in Trans Am, GTO, and all the road-racing things, as well as Pike's Peak. Mustang is a staple for me, and we're going to continue creating products that will be exciting for the consumer.
They will not be nitro-powered, and I don't have an interest in operating Funny Cars. I don't have an immediate interest in Pro Stock, although there are discussions with some of the people we do business with who would like us to support a Pro Stock effort. But for now it's about us going back to the grassroots and being involved with our dealers. We've got over 300 dealers selling Roush Performance products, and we want to be involved with the generation of folks now that have their first performance car and would like to change the rear axle, would like to put bigger tires on it, would like to make it measurably faster in the quarter-mile or something. I've got great empathy for that. I live vicariously through the success and realization and satisfaction of people one generation or two generations younger than me. I realized that my family and my engineers wanted to go drag racing last year, and I said OK-here are the tools and I'll help you with what I can, and let's get after it.
EJS: That's excellent. If the Drag Pak program goes the way you'd like it to, do you foresee building another level or another version with maybe a stroker engine, or maybe a more advanced car altogether?
JR: Yes to both of those questions. If you look at our SEMA booth here with the Roush display, we have Don Bowles' car, and it's fitted with a Ford GT engine with an open exhaust, aggressive calibration, and it's got 600-650 hp. And that's a variant we're interested in. We've got a whole family of new modular crate engines that we'll be releasing over a period of time. We've got a couple of engines in our program now, and there will be more displacement increases, up to at least 5.4 liters and that's off the 4.6 platform. Potentially we can go out as far as 6.0 liters. With Two-Valve and Four-Valve configurations and the various blower capacity we would put on the top of it, I see our modular crate engines going to at least 600 hp, and that's going to give us great latitude. We've got a 400hp engine in an '03 car that my daughter is driving. We did just one test run in it at Reading, Pennsylvania, last year and the car went 10.40s with 400 hp. If I put another 200-300 hp on that, it will be way down in the nines.
EJS: How do you feel about the engineering of the modular engines compared to the pushrod engines?
The battery has been relocated to the trunk and a nifty "On/Off" lever is affixed to the b
JR: Well, if I had been in charge, if I had a responsibility and authority as it related to Ford, I would have done more of what General Motors did in terms of advancing the [pushrod] Two-Valve engine closer to its limit of capability, rather than have to jump off as early as they did to the Four-Valve engine at the kind of limited rpm that one could expect from a street car. So, I wouldn't have made that decision, but the technology certainly isn't bad. It's in the direction of the future, and it's more interesting than pushrod technology. But right now we are well into it, and we're committed to Two-Valves, Three-Valves, and Four-Valve engines, with the overhead cam configuration. That's what the Ford family engines are, and we can make a very exciting offering to the general public as well as to spectators who would watch us race.
EJS: Will we be seeing more Roush modular crate engines in the near future?
JR: Yes, you will definitely be seeing more Roush modular crate engine options. We have a whole variance that will appear throughout 2007, and we hope to be caught up to where we want to be by 2008. We're getting there.