Last month we debuted our latest project car, which we plan to run in NMRA/NMCA True Street Competition. We kicked things off with an intro to our plan, as well as the 427ci engine build we are working on with Ford Racing Performance Parts.
Despite all our efforts, we were unable to bring you the follow-up this month, which was to include the engine assembly and dyno test, but fear not, as the conclusion will appear next month. For this month, we took Repeat Offender to Real Speed Racing in Clearwater, Florida, where the staff skillfully installed our 10-point rollcage from S&W Race Cars of Spring City, Pennsylvania.
In anticipation of the installation...
In anticipation of the installation of our new rollcage, we gutted the lavish interior and just hung the shell of the dash so we could cut the corners to fit around the front downbars. The HVAC system has been eliminated, and there wasn't much of a stereo system other than speakers. The jury is still out on what we'll do with the gauge cluster, but keeping the woodgrain trim is a priority.
We are expecting Repeat Offender to run, at the minimum, high 9s in the quarter-mile, and thus we must install a rollcage as required by NHRA regulations, which most tracks follow. Said regulations require a 10-point rollcage, as opposed to the much more common 6- or 8-point rollbar in many fast street cars. The 10-point rollcage increases safety by adding a halo bar at the roof and front support bars at the A-pillar positions. Optional is a dashbar runs perpendicular to the front support bars, tying them together for additional strength.
The 10-point cage will take you down to 8.50-second e.t.'s, beyond that you'll need further additions to the cage. We have no intention of running quite that fast at this point, so the 10-point was chosen.
For exact rollbar and rollcage specifications, refer to the current NHRA or IHRA rulebook. Most chassis shops and manufacturers are well-versed in this area, and stay up to date on the latest changes to the requirements. If your car runs 8.50's or slower, you likely won't have to worry about changes in the requirements as there haven't been many in a while. Quicker than that and you'll want to check the rulebook or manufacturer for updates.
Rather than show you a collection...
Rather than show you a collection of metal tubing, S&W provided us with this illustration of its 10-point rollcage. Ours will look just like this, with the exception of the swing-out sidebars that we will be employing.
S&W Race Cars was founded by Walt Weney in 1959, and the Spring City, Pennsylvania, establishment has remained a family business until this day. S&W offers a number of products for '79-'10 Mustangs, and after consulting with Scott Weney, we ordered a 10-point mild-steel rollcage. S&W offers both EWS (electric-welded seam) and DOM (drawn-over mandrel) mild-steel tubing, the difference being that the latter is the same seam-welded steel, just drawn over a mandrel to increase the consistency of the wall thickness over the mill run.
"The DOM tubing is marginally stronger than the EWS tubing," says S&W's Don Scholl. "Some sanctioning bodies require DOM, but for the increase in cost over EWS, you might want to consider going to chrome-moly for the weight savings, as the price points are similar."
Real Speed Racing technician...
Real Speed Racing technician Archie Marasco began the installation by cleaning the areas where the mounting plates will reside. There was some factory sound deadener, as well as some seam sealer in the corner that needed to be removed. Once Marasco mocked-up the plate, he used a flexible grinding disc to clean the floor surface to bare metal.
That said, we went with the EWS 10-point kit, which features 1 5/8-inch x 0.134-inch tubing. If you want the front downbars to be exposed in front of the dash, then order PN 11-3566, otherwise order 11-3566TD if you plan to run the bars through the top of the dash. Either part number retails for $269.95 and both fit '79-'93 coupe or hatchback Mustangs.
We also ordered S&W's swing-out sidebar kit (PN 13-357) for $34.95. Being that project Repeat Offender will be a street-legal car, we wanted the option of removing the bars when not at the track. The swing-outs are legal to 8.50 e.t.'s, and depending on which state you live in, you may need them to pass your safety inspection.
The last thing on our chassis reinforcement list was a pair of S&W's brand-new full-length subframe connectors (PN 40-720, $299.95). These connectors are designed to be bolted on and include all necessary hardware to secure it. The full-length design picks up the front K-member points, the seat-mount points, and the lower control-arm bolts as well. They come powdercoated for a long-lasting finish.
A heat gun is the easiest...
A heat gun is the easiest way to remove the sound-deadening material.
While S&W Race Cars is a full service chassis shop and can install everything it sells, its Keystone State location was a bit too far for us, so we looked locally for a shop to handle the installation. Just 30 minutes from our Tampa office, Real Speed Racing of Clearwater, Florida, agreed to perform the installation for us.
Real Speed Racing is a full-service installation and fabrication shop that can handle everything from a muffler install to engine rebuilding. Proprietor Walter Drakeford and technician Archie Marasco work on both street and race cars, and have campaigned their own fast Fords, most recently in the Outlaw 10.5 and Drag Radial ranks. Real Speed offers it's own custom rollcage installations, from simple 8-point bars through 25.2-spec cages, so our pre-bent, Mustang-specific S&W 10-point kit posed no issues.
Once the sound deadener is...
Once the sound deadener is sufficiently warmed, it will peel up quite easily. Here, we had to remove a bunch of it on the transmission tunnel where the kick out bars will be welded. If you're going all-out race, then you might want to remove the rest of the sound deadener while the heat gun is out. This author has never personally weighed it, but rumor has it there's some 20-40 pounds to be saved by taking it out.
The S&W rollcage kit is designed to be installed by anyone, but if you don't have a lot of experience with a MIG or TIG welder, then the job is best left to someone who does. It's for your safety after all, and if you don't ensure proper weld penetration, you won't be able to get your cage certified, nor will it offer you the level of protection that it was originally designed to provide.
Speaking of certification, you'll need to have your newly installed rollbar or cage inspected and certified by an NHRA or IHRA representative; to do that, contact your local NHRA or IHRA divisional office to find a certification guy near you. Oftentimes, these people can be found at your local racetrack if enough cars are assembled on a given date. Be advised that there is a significant fee that buys you three years of NHRA certification. We'll address this part of the buildup at a later date, as we also need to install a window net before we can be legal.
The included captions and photos will show you just what is involved with installing S&W Race Cars' 10-point rollcage, and most of what is included can be applied to 6- and 8-point bars as well. Next month, we plan to bring you the second part of our 427ci engine build and dyno test, followed by the suspension, braking, and drivetrain modifications. See you then.
S&W recommends heating the...
S&W recommends heating the plate and forming it to the floorpan, but our Fox-body's floors are so thin that it doesn't take much more than an angry fist to move them around, so we just massaged the floor upwards to meet the plates. The main hoop rests in the back corner where the plates meet the floor first, so we should be fine.
We included this photo just...
We included this photo just to show you how many sparks can go flying at any given time. Be sure to remove all flammable materials from the vehicle prior to any welding.
The main hoop goes in place...
The main hoop goes in place first. We had to trim a little off the ends to achieve the right height, putting the bar about a half-inch from the headliner.