Pony Wars 2 Episode 1: New Teams, New Rules

We’re back at it – Pony Wars has returned to the Horsepower Wars line-up for a second season with new cars, new teams, and new rules.

Pony Wars is a competition build show where muscle cars go head-to-head to see which is a better all-around performer. The first season took on one of the oldest muscle car rivalries of all time, Mustang versus Camaro. This time we have added a Dodge Challenger to the mix.

Each team will have a $10,000 Summit Racing budget for “bolt-on” parts upgrades, plus a ProCharger supercharger kit, to dominate the dyno, drag strip, autocross, and braking challenge.

For 2019, we selected the closest matched models of each car: a 2019 Camaro SS, 2019 Mustang GT Premium, and 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack.

The Mustang team is lead by FordNXT magazine, the Camaro team is led by Ron Mowen and Vengeance Racing – a leader in late model GM performance builds, meanwhile the Challenger team is led by Mike Copeland and Arrington Performance – the HEMI performance specialists – which we will learn more about in the next episode.

Both the Camaro and Mustang have a 10-speed automatic transmission and a curb weight of 3,700 pounds. The Camaro’s 6.2-liter direct-injected V8 is rated with 455 horsepower, just five short of the Mustang’s 5.0-liter Coyote with 460 horsepower.

DiabloSport Trinity T2 features 5-inch touchscreen display, gauges and tuner in one, capable of tuning cars with variable valve timing and DOD/AFM.

Baseline Results

Each car has received some basic bolt-on mods such as a cold air intake kit and oil filter from K&N, in addition to long-tube headers and exhaust from Corsa, E3 Ignition products, Lucas Oil fluids, and a custom tune from Diablosport before it underwent baseline dyno testing.

All three cars feature Corsa long-tube headers and off-road pipes. Note: these are not emissions-legal builds and will be modified strictly for the track. The team started by removing the OE manifolds but leaving the factory gaskets in place. The header was positioned over the studs, and then the previously removed nuts were tightened. The off-road pipes were connected to the headers at the ball and socket flange, and the O2 sensors were transferred from the old exhaust. The exhaust sleeves and clamps were tightened down as the last step in preparation for the cat-back exhaust.

Baseline testing was conducted simply to establish where each of our pony cars started out and will not be counted toward the competition – though, let’s be honest, we all want to know who makes more power. The slight difference in the OEM rated horsepower numbers carried over pretty proportionally to the baseline numbers.

Build Basics and Rules

The Horsepower Wars competition tech committee must sign off on the parts list and budget in advance, and all work will be done by the respective shops. It’s important to note that the modifications performed on the cars are not smog-legal and are for off-road use only.

Corsa exhaust features stainless steel construction, bolt-on design, 3-inch collectors, stainless cat-back for better sound and increased flow over stock exhaust.

The factory exhaust was removed, and the hanger grommet assembly on Corsa muffler assembly was installed in the same position it was on the factory exhaust. The rear hangers were slid into the rear hanger grommets. The muffler inlet pipe slid over the X-pipe outlet. And the system was adjusted accordingly, along with the tip depth and rotations, so that the tips were centered in the bumper valence. Finally, clearances were checked between the system components and chassis. Everything was tightened, and the install was complete.

To ensure both teams are budgeting fairly, and not just using Craigslist to set their pricing, we’ve turned to Summit Racing to establish pricing for both team’s “build budget.” The competition will focus on off-the-shelf parts available to any builder and both cars have to have a full exhaust system with mufflers and rear exiting tailpipes.

In addition to equally matched factory options, each car will be upgraded with ProCharger superchargers. Nothing custom here, each ProCharger system must have air-to-air intercoolers and be mass-produced by ProCharger, but teams can select from ProCharger supplied pulleys.

Beyond picking their own model and boost level for the blower, no fabrication, porting, or customization will be permitted. Engines may feature upgraded pistons, rods, bearings, rings, and camshafts if desired but are not permitted to machine the block or crankshaft (drop-in pistons/rods only!). Ported heads are permitted but would have to come out of the budget.

And in case you’re wondering, you won’t see any nitrous or supplemental fueling.

K&N cold air intake kits feature polyurethane, raw aluminum, and powder coated aluminum and have up to 50-percent more flow than stock.

We removed the OE air intake, installed the mass air sensor and provided edge trim onto the K&N heat shield and then secured it to the air filter housing mounting grommets. Then we installed the provided coupler hose onto the throttle body along with the provided 90º fitting into the K&N intake tube. Once the filter was added the install was complete.

To keep the challenge as even as possible, VP Racing C9 96-octane fuel will be provided and teams will be closely monitored and are barred from using any cooling tricks. 

Safety equipment, spark plugs, ignition wires, fuel, brake pads, wheels/tires, gaskets, and fluids will not be deducted from the team’s budget and will be provided by E3, Lucas Oil, Hawk Performance, Toyo, and Weld Racing.

Toyo TQ has a large contact patch, drag racing design, semi-slick center for improved traction, and is DOT approved.

Speaking of tires, Toyo Tires will provide Proxes TQ Drag Radials for dragstrip performance, mounted on beautiful Weld Racing wheels to clear factory brakes, and Toyo’s ultra-high performance tires will be used for autocross and braking – either the R888R or the RR depending upon the team’s choice.

Teams may run different setups for drag racing, braking and autocross competition, but all duplicate parts must come out of the budget. Since the competitions are done on consecutive days, they have merely hours to make any changes as well. If the car breaks, the teams are allowed to fix it at their own cost, but competition times will not be delayed for repairs.

Vehicles may only be lightened by removing spare tires and tools.

The Challenge:

To determine the 2019 Pony Wars winner, each car will be given points based on each challenge.

Dyno – Winner gets 1 point

Each team will get 3 hours on the chassis dyno, the number of runs is not regulated. The winner shall be the car with the highest peak horsepower. Tiebreaker will be torque.

Braking – Winner gets 1 point

Each team will get 5 attempts at 60-0 braking. Winner will be determined by the best 60-0 test conducted.

Autocross – Winner gets 2 points, Runner-up gets 1 point

Each team will share one full day of autocross. The number of runs is unlimited. The winner will be determined by the fastest average of 3 runs.

Drag race – Winner gets 2 points, Runner-up gets 1 point

Each team will share one full day at the drag strip. Number of runs is unlimited. The winner shall be determined by the quickest e.t. 

To earn points, each vehicle must prove that it is either quicker or more powerful than the competition. In case of a tie for the overall winner, the dyno test will serve as the tie break.

Watch the competition unfold and the builds progress on HorsepowerWars.com. 

The 2019 season of Pony Wars is made possible by some of the leading companies in our industry, including Toyo TiresCOMP CamsTCIK&N FiltersDyna-BattMAHLE MotorsportsDyna-BattWeld RacingCorsa PerformanceFragolaHolley, DiabloSport, NOS, E3 Spark PlugsTotal SealMoser EngineeringBMR SuspensionMiller Electric, Hawk Performance, Aerospace Components, Lucas Oil, Moroso, PRW Industries, Victor Reinz, US Gear, VP Racing, and ARP. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a wild ride!

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About the author

Nicole Ellan James

As an automotive journalist and avid car enthusiast, Nicole Ellan James has a passion for automotive that is reflected in every aspect of her lifestyle. Follow Nicole on Instagram and Facebook - @nicoleeellan
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