Performance enthusiasts are forever pushing the envelope.
We crave the rush of acceleration, the adrenaline of speed, and the sheer thrill of exploring limits. Driving on the edge can even be euphoric—if you survive. As you can imagine, running over 200 mph takes you to another place, mentally, and physically. So we'll consider owner JW Brake and driver Van Collier's feat to be downright mystifying.
In the last 25 years, MM&FF has covered virtually all forms of motorsport madness, including open track road racing, drag racing, drifting, autocross, and even a treacherous hill climb or two. We've seen (and participated) in some wild antics, but this reaches beyond us.
Of course, Bonneville's salt flats are the hallowed ground of speed, but more recently, straight-line freaks have been quenching their thirst for huge mph in standing-start, one-mile racing events, such as the Texas Mile.
The Texas Mile is a challenging contest, where racers line up and gun down the track (an old WWII runway) similar to drag racing, albeit with top speed being the goal rather than e.t. It's harder than it seems, on man and machine. And no one has driven a Mustang faster in the Texas Mile than Van Collier, who recently wheeled JW Brake's '07 street-legal Shelby Super Snake to a mind-bending 220.8 mph.
"One-mile racing is just awesome," said Collier, who orchestrated the build of this wild GT500, and then drove it to record speed. "It's rapidly growing and a spectacle of cars, bikes and engineering. You are wide-open for a mile, so it's an endurance test. You have to get out of the hole and then generate speed quickly. It takes about 23-25 seconds for the whole run and we're hitting 179-183 by the half-mile marker," he added. Running over 20 seconds at WOT creates loads of heat and it's important to manage that or things can become catastrophic.
"When Ford announced it was building a GT500 in 2006, I had to have one," stated JW Brake of Odessa, Texas. "It was a lot of fun to drop the top and cruise the wide-open West Texas highways, but something was missing.
"Quantum Performance of Farmers Branch, Texas converted my '07 car to Super Snake specs in 2008. At the time it only had 950 miles on it. Another round of mods included narrowed Currie 9-inch and Shelby/Baer rear brakes. Precision Shaft Technologies also built a carbon-fiber driveshaft for it. And at a private drag strip session JW and his son, Mark, made some runs, but traction was an issue. Allen Nelson of Nelson Performance drove it to a best of 11.35 at 126.58 mph.
"I contacted Van Collier in January of '11 about a built motor and then trailered the Shelby to Power By The Hour in South Florida." Michael Rauscher of L&M Engines put together a 5.8 built motor with an aluminum block, Darton sleeves, a FRPP CJ crank, L&M/Diamond pistons and Manley rods. The heads are ported Ford GT units with custom cams installed, and the deal is fed by a trio of Walbro 435 pumps with an Aeromotive regulator and 205-lb/hr injectors. The throttle body is an oval unit from KB, and the gasses exit though American Racing Headers and a 3-inch system with Borla mufflers.
A Kenne Bell 3.6L liquid-cooled blower went up top to increase the boost level. The mod mill sees 26 psi of boost and is connected to a Tremec T-6060 with a Spec clutch. The Ford 9-inch sports 3.00 gearing for mine racing and 3.89:1 for street duty.
"Van called in November 2011, just a few days after he had driven another Super Snake to 204 mph. He asked what I thought about Texas Mile and I decided it might be fun to take a convertible over 200 mph, so the heat was on to get the car ready."
To improve aero, they installed a clip-on top from Smoothline, and then Van, tuner Jon Lund, and the gang at Tig Vision got to work. The Shelby produced 1,013 rwhp and 975 lb-ft of torque the weekend before it would be first run. "During the stay in Florida, we decided to throw a set of Recaros in it," added JW. The GT500 rolls on Forgeline GW3R wheels (18x9.5 and 18x11) with Hoosier R6 race rubber for the track.
Finally the Snake was hauled from Florida to Beeville, Texas, for its shot at the mile. The crew taped up the nose of the car to improve aero and they let it rip. "Van lined up early Friday morning and was sleeping in the car, he was second to go," said JW. "I went to the other end of the track and set up a video camera. We could hear the SS coming as Van blasted down track and at the half-mile mark he was at 170 mph. I got excited and lost the car on video, then Van roared by us and the speed showed 207.7 mph. We thought it might get into the 190 range, but to hit 207 mph, that was too good to be true," JW proclaimed.
Despite the blistering speed, the convertible GT500 is not what most would consider a "racecar." Aside from the sponsor stickers and vinyl race numbers, it's a cool cruiser that JW uses to hit the local Starbucks.
After getting the car back home the team then swapped the 3.6L KB for the larger 4.2 LC blower and they returned at a later date to go faster. "When Van drove the car to 207 he said it was loose on the top end. I asked, what do mean by ‘loose?' he said it was moving left to right by about three feet between the eighth-mile and the one-mile mark."
To tighten the car up they installed a full compliment of BMR and Griggs suspension with double-adjustable VariShock dampers in the back and Koni coilovers up front. It also sports BMR front A-arms and K-member. They also switched from E-85 to Shell E 98 fuel. "Shortly before the October 2012 Texas Mile event, the car made 1,153 rwhp and was ready for another run," stated JW.
"The first day was very cool with a tailwind of about 10-15 mph. Van told me he'd been waiting a long time for a strong tailwind, and the first pass out it ran an amazing 217.8 mph," said an elated JW. Tuner Jon Lund went to work and unlocked some extra horses; Van installed new plugs and a new belt. At 6:30 p.m. on October 27, Van lined up again. "The air was cool but the wind was all but gone," said JW. "It was surreal as he left the line."
"The track is an old WWII runway so the surface has some transitions," said Van. "It unsettles the car in certain spots, but I was flat on the floor by Second gear." Van ran the SS up through the gears, holding the line best he could. "I got it into Fifth gear and the engine was at 7,000 and pulling. Once you eclipse 200 mph the first few times things narrow down, but after a few runs things open up. The car felt stable, it really holds the line well," he said. One mile later the convertible Super Snake punched a hole in the air to the tune of 220.8 mph. "The greatest thing about this project is that we had no expectations, but this is the fastest standing-mile Mustang in the world," said JW.
But the run isn't over at 220 mph—stopping is a challenge, especially in a 4,100-pound Mustang. "We're using Baer six-piston calipers and Hawk DTC 70 pads, and after five passes we have to replace the rotors since you have to brake aggressively from that speed," Van stated.
Amazingly, they pulled off running well past 200 with no issues in a convertible with only minimal safety gear. Admittedly, he was not looking for more. "We never envisioned going that fast, and we're done racing this car." While Revan Racing will be on the hunt for more power and speed in other projects, with a 220.8 mph pass under its belt in a convertible, we can see why he's parking this one.