Car Feature: K&N American Iron Mustang Is Racking Up Podiums

In 2010 K&N struck a deal with Ford to purchase a body in white Mustang which could be transformed into almost any type of racer the company desired to build. Unsure of what they wanted to do with the car it sat waiting to be utilized for nearly three years.

In 2013 Dave Martis, the Research and Development manager at K&N, proposed to the higher ups at the company that they use the body in white to construct a road race car for NASA’s American Iron class. If you’re unfamiliar with American Iron its focus is more on chassis, and driver ability. The class keeps horsepower in check with a power-to-weight ratio formula that penalizes high horsepower and rewards engines that lean toward the stock side.

With a nod from his superiors to proceed the car was built by Martis and the K&N R&D team over a period of about six months -essentially whenever the team had some extra time between projects.

A stock Coyote 5.0 engine was procured from Saleen as a take-out part. Martis had also enlisted the help of AEM hoping to spur the company on at developing their newest version of the Infinity engine management system for the Coyote engine. Martis even helped AEM secure another takeout engine for testing from Saleen as well. That move managed to get Martis help from AEM as one of the first recipients of the Infinity system for Coyote powered Mustangs.

AEM fully developed the Infinity to work with every facet of Coyote engine operation, “This system does everything it’s supposed to -controlling the variable valve timing, all the sensors -it has been awesome to work with,” says Martis.

Martis and his team also prototyped the forward facing air intake system on the car which pulls fresh air from the grille. The ram air effect of the incoming cold air charge is likely good for more than a few additional horsepower according to Martis. Don’t look for this piece on the shelf anytime soon. It’s a one off for racing that was designed by the R&D team at K&N and then built using a 3D printer by a local company.

Power comes from an internally stock Coyote 5.0. The air intake was designed by K&N's R&D team. Electronics are controlled by AEM's Infinity system for the Coyote engine.

Backing up the Coyote engine is a Tremec T-56 Magnum XL, that was worked over by Liberty’s for road racing. An Exedy Hyper stage 3 clutch and flywheel provide the connection between engine and transmission. The one-piece driveshaft comes from Inland Empire Driveline. Currie Enterprises reworked an 8.8-inch housing for use with a Baer full floater kit. A Drexler limited slip differential spins 31-spline Speedway Engineering axles.

Feeding the engine a steady diet of fuel is a a Fuel Safe FIA approved fuel cell and a full compliment of Aeromotive fuel system components. This includes Aeromotive’s pump, regulator, and fuel rails.

The suspension is comprised of pieces from Cortex Racing including their Xtreme Grip SLA setup in the front and Watts-link rear. Eibach keeps things sprung while JRi Shocks take care of the damping.

Baer 6R Monoblock brakes reside at all four corners with full floating 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers. Hawk brake pads provide the friction and a Tiltion pedal floor mount assembly serves as the means for driver control. Ford Racing BOSS 302S front brake ducts keep those binders from Baer cool under the rigors of road course driving.

A full compliment of FIA regulated safety gear is in place to keep Martis safe and comfortable behind the wheel. This includes a Racetech full containment seat, Woodward collapsible steering column, Simpson window and triangle nets, Safecraft fire suppression, and FIA 6-way harnesses. An AiM sports datalogging dash lets Martis keep an eye on how the car is running while he's making laps.

Turning a skeleton of a production Mustang into a full-tilt racer requires extensive modifications to the unibody itself, as well as procuring everything needed to make the car look like a Mustang. Modifications to the unibody include removing all excess weight and fully seam welding the chassis.

Paul Brown racing was the source for the Aero Louvered carbon fiber hood, doors, and deck lid. Optic Armor served up their polycarbonate drop-in blacked-out windows. A G-Stream Aero Splitter and underpan keep the air in check and is secured with G-Stream’s strut kit. At the time we photographed the car it was wearing a GT500 nose. Since then Vaughn Gittin Jr has come on board as a sponsor and he has provided a full RTR appearance package, this made the switch back to a GT nose necessary to add the RTR mods.

Since our initial photo shoot, Vaughn Gittin Jr. has come on board to support the car which now wears RTR body components.

Inside the car is a Racetech full containment seat and FIA approved six-way harness. A Safecraft LT10 fire suppression system is onboard in the event of a fire. Woodward provides the collapsible steering column. The window and triangle nets are from Simpson.

With Martis behind the wheel the K&N Mustang has a great season so far in NASA competition. “We’ve been very happy with how it’s performed. Naturally, we’re battling some new car gremlins, but overall it has worked out well and is drawing attention for K&N and our partners in the car,” says Martis. Doing well might be an understatement -the car has won several poles already this year and finished on the podium multiple times. In fact it’s worst finish is fourth as of this writing.

Martis says they plan to run as many American Iron races as possible with the car this season, but they don’t know what the plan will be for 2015. With a new Mustang chassis coming we’re sure the K&N R&D team will be looking at making new products for that car. As for the racing team, for the rest of 2014 one thing is for sure, the K&N Mustang is cleaning up in American Iron.

About the author

Don Creason

Don Creason is an automotive journalist with passions that lie from everything classic, all the way to modern muscle. Experienced tech writer, and all around car aficionado, Don's love for both cars and writing makes him the perfect addition to the Power Automedia team of experts.
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