Often V6 Mustangs are thought of as the appliance car of the Mustang world. They’re relegated to rental fleets, or owners who don’t really put much thought into performance. In recent years that has been changing, especially since 2011 when the V6 Mustang started breaching the 300 hp benchmark.
In the Pirelli World Challenge racing series classes are designed for close parity between the competing cars. The TC class allows V6 Mustangs to compete against the likes of the Nissan Altima or 370Z, among others. Engines must remain largely stock with the exception of cold air induction, exhaust, and a few other external bolt-on modifications. While the cars are lightened, and feature all the necessary race track safety equipment, under the hood and even in the suspension they’re not much different than cars that many street going enthusiasts enjoy. It’s also a more affordable alternative to many more expensive and involved racing classes and series.
VP Racing Fuels’ Steve Burns decided to go racing for 2015 in the TC class of the Pirelli World Challenge. He enlisted the help of Ian Lacy Racing and Kenny Brown to construct a 2014 Mustang V6 to compete. “Steve (Burns) couldn’t have chosen a better guy to build the VP TC Mustang than Ian Lacy. We spoke daily on content, components, next steps, problem solving and putting together the best race package we could in the time allotted. This is the first racecar I built over the phone. I saw the car for the first time when it was unloaded at COTA and was pretty happy with the result,” says Brown.
The car was assembled in a little over 2 months, beginning life as a low mileage 2014 stock V6 Mustang. Ian Lacy Racing stripped everything that wasn’t necessary for the racing environment from the car, and began the transformation. This included getting rid of the sound deadener, seam sealer, and anything else that wouldn’t help the car go fast. The interior was then treated to a fresh coat of paint.
The team then installed a Watson Racing roll cage, along with a bevy of racing hardware. This included a Racekeeper camera system and a Motec data system. Other safety equipment consists of Safecraft nets and belts, a Recaro seat, and MOMO steering wheel.
Since TC class rules are highly restrictive in regards to performance modifications, the Ian Lacy Racing crew installed a JLT cold air intake, Bassani exhaust and upgraded coolers by Fluidyne and Setrab. Other performance enhancements include a RAM clutch, and a new aluminum driveshaft by Axle Engineering.
While the engine does all the work accelerating, good brakes can be the difference between standing on the podium, or stuffing a race car into the wall. With that in mind the stock V6 brakes were ditched in favor of a few rulebook friendly upgrades. Those include the use of a Ford Racing ABS module, Brembo calipers and rotors, Hawk brake pads, and stainless steel braided lines.
TC class rules also specify that very little can be done to the suspension. With recommendations from Kenny Brown, the Ian Lacy Racing team prepared the car with JRZ shocks, Eibach springs, and bushings and control arms from Ford Racing and as Lacy puts it “some other “Kenny” tweaks.”
Forgeline Wheels is a major player in the World Challenge series, providing wheels to numerous teams, including some of the top players. Kenny Brown has been a long time advocate of the Dayton, Ohio based wheel manufacturer, and helped secure a set of Forgeline competition GS1R wheels were sourced from the car. These wheels are machined from 6061 aluminum and have a 2,100 lbs load rating per wheel. The monoblock design is incredibly light and rigid, making it ideal for a racing environment.
Rounding out the car’s modifications aerodynamics are improved with the addition of a Ford Racing front splitter and Crawford Composites rear wing. Of course the car features a wild paint scheme with the VP logo prominently displayed on either side.
Lacy says that Brown was key to the early successes this car saw in competition this year. “Kenny has been an invaluable asset to the team during the preparation of the car. His extensive knowledge of Mustangs has allowed him to provide us with a very strong starting point. He has assisted in every aspect of the build providing advice on brake pad choice, car setup and chassis tuning, engine performance, and system installation. His business Kenny Brown Performance has also been able to provide us with aftermarket parts and has acted as a liaison between our team and vendors such as Hawk Performance for brakes and Forgeline for wheels.”
The car made its debut at the Circuit of the Americas race this past spring in rainy weather. Brown was on hand, along with Lacy who ended up being the driver after Steve Burns suffered an injury in the shop. After two top 10 finishes during its debut race weekend the car met an untimely end to its weekend in the third race courtesy of a Porsche. “The VP Racing Team did great with two top ten finishes for its first time on track especially considering we had less than two months to build the car, the #43 car had never turned a wheel on track before the first practice, and the weather was lousy. If the Porsche hadn’t taken Ian (Lacy) out in the third race, we would have had our third top ten finish. Reviewing my notes and the weekend, we still came away with a wealth of data and information on making the car better. All in all very encouraging,” says Brown.
Don’t count this one out yet however, Brown and Lacy have both said the car will be repaired and back on the track. Lacy also says its down a bit on mile per hour over its competitors and they’ll be working to remedy that. We look forward to seeing how this car does when it returns.