Jason Wagoner returned to drag racing in style with a 1,200 horsepower Shelby

Some people grow up around cool cars and it sticks with them for life. Others come out when life gets involved. For Jason Wagoner, maturing simply meant choosing a different style of performance machine. With over three decades of drag racing experience, he decided that pursuing racing required the driving ability offered by a more modern Mustang.

It gives you an adrenaline rush and feels incredible when it launches, racing the front wheels briefly… – Jason Wagoner

“I started racing my 1989 Mustang LX on the drag strip. It only had bolt-on parts and was running in the mid 12’s. In 1996 I went to the Spring Break Shootout with a nitrous kit and it was running at low 11,” says Wagoner. “In the year 2000, we were running Renegade with a Lentech AOD and a Vortech bring the car into the 9.90s. It was a lot to accomplish at the time. Right now, technology has shown that our old efforts aren’t as fast as the new Mustangs.

Adding the GT500 to the family stable was not an easy sell at first. Wagoner introduced it to his wife, Leigh Ann, as their “retirement” car. Of course, she knew how her past projects left handling in the dust in favor of all-around performance. It worked with this one though. “…When we’re cruising down True Street with the stereo blaring and the air conditioning blasting, she’s a believer,” Wagoner enthuses.

After growing up in a racing family that spent a lot of time on the drag strip, it was natural for Wagoner to learn to love motor racing, especially the straight-line variety. Likewise, a fateful new addition to the family driveway cemented appreciation for the original pony car.

“My parents bought a new Mustang in 1965. That car was a three-speed 289 with a Pony interior. It came with a voyageur canoe, which I still have to this day. I fell in love with that car,” recalls Wagoner. “Later in my life, I wanted to open a Mustang store. So I invested in a store because there wasn’t one locally in southern Indiana. We needed a parts store, knowledge and a good workforce. I learned a lot when I owned the shop, helped my friends make their Mustangs faster, and made several new friends on the racetrack.


Looking for a more streetable race car, Wagoner went with this 2013 Shelby GT500 painted in Deep Impact Blue. His decision so far has been rewarded with a second-place finish in the GT500 class against Terminator at the NMRA Spring Break Shootout in Bradenton, a win in the TVS Supercharger Throwdown class at NMRA St. Louis, and an overall win in over 146 cars. in True Street at NMRA Bowling Green.

Of course, even for the most dedicated speed freaks, the demands of everyday life can alter their motoring journey. Eventually, Wagoner tossed aside his trusty Fox Body Mustang, which had become an unruly, turbocharged racer. He moved on to business interests and another form of motorsport, but eventually the siren song of the 1320s brought him back to drag racing.

Wagoner returns to racing

“As the competition in Renegade got extremely competitive, I didn’t have time to keep up. I also didn’t want to dump my really cool 1993 Cobra to get to that level of competition in Renegade. I was focusing on my home improvement company. Also, I got into diesel truck pulls for a few years,” Wagoner says. “Diesel truck pulling became more than I wanted to invest in terms of money and time. missed the drag strip and went back to racing. I decided to return to my passion, True Street, with the idea that it would be a less stressful and fun class. I look forward to the season 2022 race car and make history with my GT500.

We get a lot of stares coming through our little town with the parachute on our backs! -Jason Wagoner

As you see here, this GT500 is a 2013 example of the S197 Shelby sputtered by going for Deep Impact Blue. It offers a succinct but effective set of upgrades highlighted by a VMP Performance Gen 2 TVS supercharger, which helps raise engine output to 1,200 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft of torque. That combo pushed the 4,090-pound S197 to a best elapsed time of 8.55 at 162 mph, but Wagoner hopes to drop that time into the 8.20-second range.

Not just a Trinity engine bolted under its hood, Wagoner’s GT500 is powered by a BES-built 5.8-litre engine packed with a host of rugged internals, including I-beam connecting rods, forged pistons Ross and a billet Sonny Bryant crankshaft. Topped with stock cylinder heads fitted with BES custom cams, it benefits from a stock intake modified by London Chassis Dyno and a VMP Performance Gen3R TVS supercharger. The combo is fed by Injector Dynamics fuel injectors and exhales through American Racing Headers 1 3/4-inch long tubes with a custom X-pipe and stock mufflers and tailpipes. In total, the combo delivers an impressive 1,200 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft of torque.

“The 2013 GT500 is a good fit for this class because it’s still a street car with a full interior, air conditioning and a stock dash with the stereo still working,” Wagoner said. “You can ride it anywhere with lots of comfort, lots of power and complete the 30 mile cruise every time.”

street star

This cruise is just one aspect of the grueling NMRA True Street class, which tests the durability, streetability and performance of street/strip machines. After surviving the cruise, these vehicles are given a brief respite before enduring three consecutive quarter-mile runs without opening the hood. This environment is well suited to the velvet hammer that is the Trinity-powered Shelby.

Rolling on polished RC Components Tork wheels – 17×4.5in front, 15x10in rear – fitted with Mickey Thompson rubber, Wagoner’s Shelby strikes an aggressive stance. Behind those wheels is a full set of Strange Engineering brakes. The parachute is the real clue that this street machine can rip on the drag strip.

True Street is an enticing challenge for many and a stepping stone to one-on-one lessons for others. Wagoner climbed up and down that ladder but decided to go back to his roots with the pumped-up Shelby. With a BES-built 5.8-liter engine bolstered by the aforementioned VMP supercharger, Wagoner’s GT500 features a select group of suspension mods from AFCO, Santuff, Weird engineeringand UPR productsthat help it plant its 1,000 lb-ft of torque.

“It gives you an adrenaline rush and an incredible feeling when launching, picking up the front wheels briefly,” Wagoner says of the modified GT500. “It cruises straight down the track and is exceptionally smooth throughout the quarter mile.”

While the interior is clean and looks original, it is framed by a custom 10-point roll bar rated 8.50 by London Chassis Dyno, who did much of the work on the car. The cage folds down tight to the body and even clears the stock mirror mounting location. This M&M shifter operates a Turbo 400 automatic transmission prepared by RPM Transmissions and equipped with a PTC torque converter. The trans is mounted via a custom crossmember by London Chassis Dyno.

Dual purpose

In addition to True Street competition, Wagoner plans to put its Shelby through its paces in a new limited index class designed to appeal to fast street cars, but doesn’t require the torture test of cruising and racing. multiple.

“This year, with the GT500, we are looking at the new SunCoast Performance 8.60 Street Race class. We’re going to try it in Bradenton, because that’s going to be the opening race,” Wagoner said. “We will see how it goes as well as True Street. Long-term plans with the car are to continue driving and enjoying it even in retirement.

Applying the thrust generated by a VMP Gen3 TVS fan and integrated 5.8-liter motor requires an upgraded suspension. Wagoner chose UPR Products springs, AFCO front struts, Santhuff rear shocks and a custom London Chassis Dyno anti-roll bar to do the job. The combination proved to be effective, as his regular run passes the mid 8s on the quarter mile.

Whatever class it races in, make no mistake, this GT500 retains street cred. Having sold the acquisition to his wife as it was a “retirement car” that wouldn’t give up its drivability, the couple still enjoy driving that 8-second ride.

“We love driving the GT500 on the street. It turns many heads and gets many thumbs up!” Waggoner said. “We ride it to car shows, dinner parties and family gatherings. the back !

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