If you attend any Mustang/Ford racing events throughout the year, such as the NMRA, Fun Ford, or World Ford Challenge, one of the most interesting things about the racers is that many of them have been involved in the sport for 10, sometimes 15, years. They were definitely pioneers of late-model Mustang racing who ushered in and unlocked the performance of Fox Stangs in the late '80s, starting out like many of us with hopped-up 5.0 Mustangs.
Today, you can find a few of the original guys running in the Pro classes, lapping the quarter-mile in under seven seconds. It must be a sign of us getting older then, that the second generation of Mustang drag racers is coming up into the ranks.
At a mere 17 years of age, Matthew DaSilva is taking the express route to where his father, Joe DaSilva, left off, and he's doing it with Dad's original 5.0 Mustang. Passed down to his son, this little red coupe started off as a new "family vehicle" purchase by dear, old dad.
"We went down to the Ford dealer to buy a new family vehicle and I saw this Mustang," Joe says. "I had no idea you could get a coupe with a V-8, so I was surprised when I opened the hood and saw the 5.0L engine. I figured it was a rare car, and I had to have it." Joe, who had been racing a Dodge product and as he put it, "hated Mustangs," showed up at the local car hangout to the amazement of many who just could not believe the Mustang was actually his.
It wasn't long before the Mustang saw its first modifications. The ring-and-pinion was changed, sticky tires were mounted up, the stock cylinder heads were ported, and the '86 intake manifold was swapped out for a then-new '87 intake.
Back in 1987, you couldn't just pick up your latest copy of Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords and pick out some parts from one of the many adver-tisers like you can today. MM&FF was just getting out of the gate, and there was pretty much no aftermarket to speak of in terms of Ford EFI parts. All that was left was old-school hot rodding.
"We were getting frustrated with the EFI," Joe says. "There were no mass air meters and the whole induction system was becoming a big restriction." Looking to spin the motor higher and make more power, Joe decided it was time to switch to a carbureted setup.
Around 1992, the coupe received a 331ci stroker small-block in front of its Tremec five-speed transmission, along with a carburetor and a Compucar 150hp nitrous-oxide plate system. MM&FF Tech Editor Mike Galimi recalls, "I remember seeing that car at Englishtown in 1992 when it had a 331 with juice and a Tremec. It ran its ass off in like mid-to-low-10s. It had gold Moroso valve covers and a big, round air filter on top of the carb that matched the valve covers." Joe went 9.70s with that combination, which was quite quick for the time.
Pretty soon the word got out that this dude from Canada knew how to make Mustangs run fast. Modifying 5.0 Mustangs ultimately turned into a full-time job for the Ontario, Canada, resident when he started JS Performance. He later joined forces with his brother Paul, and the company became know as J&P Performance. Under the J&P banner, Joe and Paul tore up tracks from Ontario to Englishtown.