1969 Mustang
The Mach40

Regular readers will recognize the Mach40 from our Top Cars of SEMA 2012 coverage last year. Typically we look for unique cars in our event coverage, but we felt Dave Eckert of Eckert's Rod & Custom and the Mach40's owner deserved recognition for having the courage to not only accept the OUSCI invite, but to run a seven-figure build hard. Built as an interpretation of what a 1969 Mach1 Mustang would look like if it had been the basis for Ford's GT40 racers, the mid-engine, GT-powered Mach had the pedigree for sure. It has spent significant time on the street getting sorted since last year, but OUSCI would be its first competitive outing.

Eckert told us from the beginning he's not a racer, but out on the autocross and road course he drove the Mach40 impressively hard—hard enough to put it in the dirt once. Picture it and cringe: that car, sliding off track into the dirt. Other than that slip, the Mach40 looked stable, well balanced, and positively gorgeous as it rounded the corners and hit triple digits on the straightaways.

But that's what this amazing feat of metalwork and engineering was all about from the beginning: It was never intended to be a trailered, pampered show car. The owner drives it to work regularly, and was eager to see its capabilities on track. Now Eckert has some additional data to put into adjustments for the suspension.

OUSCI Results
Detroit Speed & Engineering Road Rally: finished
RideTech Autocross: 39th
BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge: 41st
Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed-Stop Challenge: 36th
Lingenfelter Performance & Design Challenge: 2nd
Overall rank: 15th

Engine: 850hp 5.4L Ford GT with Whipple 3.0 supercharger and MoTec EFI
Trans: Ford GT transaxle
Rearend: Ford GT with stock gearing
Suspension & Chassis: The front suspension is mostly C6 Corvette adapted to a custom chassis. The rear uses C6 spindles with custom tubular control arms from Eckert's Rod & Custom.
Brakes: 6-piston Baer calipers on 14-inch rotors
Wheels & Tires: custom 18x10 and 19x11 Schott wheels with 275/35R18 and 325/30R19 Michelin tires
Contact: Eckert's Rod & Custom; 503-263-2893; EckertsRodandCustom.com

1972 Pantera
Pro Pantera

When Bob Benson picked up this 1972 Pantera 13 years ago, it already had a history of autocrossing early in its years, and was later set up for mild open tracking. But Benson says it really was not that fast and was more of a show car, so he spent most of his track time in his 1965 GT350R clone. That is until he over-revved and scattered the 347 stroker on the front straight of Thunderhill. Benson bought a new 302 block and was starting to do a 331 stroker replacement, but his Pantera buddies bugged him so badly that he decided to do a motor for the Pantera instead. So he sold the 302 and bought a 351 Windsor and stroked it to 411 inches.

Benson pulled the factory Cleveland, had the engine bay detailed and installed the engine with 180-degree headers, chassis braces, a four-point rollcage, custom Fuel Safe cell, full MSD ignition, Wilwood brakes, and some sticky Hoosier R6 race tires. The first time he tracked the car, Benson won his class and beat many full race cars with his street-legal ride. "I told my wife the car was a lot better than the Mustang," Benson said, "and that was a really good car."

So far, the Pantera has been raced yearly at the Pantera Club Event, as well as autocrossed, drag raced, and driven to Vegas and back on Hoosier R6s. It has run at Reno/Fernly, Thunderhill (Checkered Flag racing), Sears Point (Infineon), Laguna Seca, Firebird Raceway, and even Spring Mountain in Pahrump. So really the biggest challenge for Benson at OUSCI was learning how the Pantera would handle on the required 200-treadwear tires rather than full-race rubber. By all indications, it did quite well.

OUSCI Results
Detroit Speed & Engineering Road Rally: finished
RideTech Autocross: 23rd
BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge: 31st
Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed-Stop Challenge: 12th
Lingenfelter Performance & Design Challenge: 22nd
Overall rank: 27th (tie)

Engine: 411ci iron block Windsor with Cryptonite billet rods, Scat forged crank, 9.8:1 Wiseco pistons, COMP Cams cam (.625/.610 lift, 251/248 duration at .050), Isky solid lifters, ported Brodix heads, Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake, 830-cfm Holley, custom 180-degree exhaust
Trans: ZF five-speed transaxle with taller Fifth gear, Spicer halfshafts, billet axles, Centerforce clutch, aluminum flywheel
Suspension & Chassis: front truck brace, rear tub truss, lower control arm braces front and rear, Alden double-adjustable coilovers with 550-lb/in front springs, 750-lb/in rear springs, and 1-inch sway bars with spherical ends
Wheels & Tires: 18-inch Kinesis with 245/40 and 315/30 BFGoodrich Rival
Brakes: 14-inch, six-piston Wilwood front, 14-inch four-piston Wilwood rear