Slideshow:Check out this interview with a Fox Body Autocross Veteran
Gregg Biddlingmeier talks about his Foxy Body Mustang, how it compares to his C5 Z06 Corvette, and about competing in the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational.
This Fox Body
Gregg Biddlingmeier bought this particular Fox Body Mustang in 2010 for just $800. We say 'this Fox Body' because Greg had owned several Fox Bodies before this one, but this was his first Mustang since moving to Arizona from the rusty Midwest. In Greg's words: "I thought it would make a fun daily driver that could be driven year round, not to mention they were plentiful, cheap, and rust-free." His Arizona Mustang was a driveable 4-cylinder car that soon received a V8 and some brake and suspension upgrades as it served as a daily driver until the autocross bug bit in 2013.
Before we hear what he has to say about racing this Fox Body in series like the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational, via this interview with AutoXandTrack, let's take a look at the Mustang's specs circa their chat.
Engine: Ford 5.0L 302 with GT40p heads and Ford Racing B303 hydraulic roller cam
Drivetrain: Heavy duty T5 manual transmission, 8.8 Ford rear axle with Detroit Trutrac Differential
Suspension: Home-built torque arm and Watts link, Maximum Motorsports K-Member, control arms, and coil-overs
Wheels/Tires: Falken RT615K+ tire 315/30-18 tires at all four corners
Body: 4-inch fender flares, Carter's Customs rear diffuser, Home-built Lexan rear spoiler, Trackspec Motorsports hood vents
When asked what was his initial plan for the Mustang was, Greg said, "With a vast amount of bolt-on parts available for the Fox Body Mustangs, everyone seemed to be building these cars the same way." He said he wanted to take his own path. "I’ve always been a fan of Pro-Touring themed cars, particularly 1st Gen Camaros. I took inspiration from a wide variety of cars from Pro-Touring to modern sports cars trying to make it functional while maintaining a clean look while keeping it streetworthy."
The best-laid plans often change when they encounter competition, and such was the case with Greg's Mustang. "One thing I quickly learned was the need for more tire! In the beginning, I had no intentions of flaring the car, but with the tight clearance up front and the desire to run a bigger tire, I had no other option but to go wide," he shared.
Greg said that the best "bang for the buck" modification he'd done to his car was the torque arm/Watts link rear suspension he fabricated himself. "It has worked flawlessly for the three years it has been on the car and it only cost me time and materials," Greg enthused.
Greg answered the question about what he thought his Mustang's greatest strength was by saying: "With the short wheelbase, the car does very well on small courses, particularly ones that can be run in first gear. The torque-arm rear and lack of big torque allow me to get back into the throttle early and really launch out of the corners."
Would He Change Anything?
When asked what he would do if he could go back to the beginning and do anything differently, Greg said, "Initially it started as somewhat of a budget build, so free performance was had by removing the HVAC system, sound deadening, rear seat, etc." But he went on the mention the influence rulebooks have had on the evolution of his Mustang: "Now that I have been running the Optima series in the GTV class that has a 3200 lb minimum, I have added ballast back into the car. This has been great that I can add the weight back to where I want it, but the car has suffered in the Design and Engineering portion of the event because of some of the missing amenities. Now that weight is no longer that much of an issue, I will be adding some of these components back into the car."
All About Optima
Next, Greg was asked his thoughts about running Optima USCA events. "The Optima events are great. Tons of seat time and the competition is fierce, that will push you to become a better driver. The variety of segments keeps it interesting and there is something for everyone," he said.
Then he talked more about the Design and Engineering portion of the even he mentioned earlier: "One of the controversial segments of the series is Design & Engineering. In this segment, your car is judged based on objective and subjective categories. I feel that the Design & Engineering segment has made my car a better car keeping it functional and looking good. Without Design & Engineering, and the never-ending quest for speed, it may have ended up a gutted-out jalopy."
What's with the Corvette?
Greg, who had recently purchased a C5 Corvette Z06, was asked how it compared to his Mustang and whether the purchase spelled the end of the competitive road for the Fox Body. Greg had this to say: "The Corvette is truly an incredible car. I bought it with the intention of doing some track events and getting some additional seat time, but really just enjoy it as a daily driver. The true 'hot rodder' in me keeps going back to the Mustang. I can’t leave anything alone and love the challenge of trying to make something go around corners that was really never intended to do so."
He continued, "The Corvette is very precise and smooth, it almost feels like it drives itself; whereas in the Mustang you feel like you are an extension of the car. It has that raw, hot rod feel to it. It requires a lot of corrections and I feel like I can throw it into the corners and sling it around at will. At this point, I am having too much fun with the Mustang and have no plans to retire it."
What's next for the Mustang? Greg said for sure more power was in the offing, "one way or another." "Suspension-wise, the car is very close to where I want it, I just need more time behind the wheel and continue to work on optimizing the current setup," he said, and reiterated his comments about adding some of the creature comforts back in that he originally yanked.
As far as current and future competition goals, Greg said, "The car is mostly used for autocross events. I do compete in the Optima Ultimate Street Car series which includes a speed stop and road course segment in addition to autocross. I am looking to gain more road course experience at some HPDE events especially after a future horsepower increase."
We're sensing a theme here and can't wait to see from whence his increased horsepower will come. In the meantime, Greg's not faring too horribly making do with his 302—his most recent win at the time of the interview came in Las Vegas at the Muscle Cars at the Strip autocross event, where he took the Classic Muscle and Fastest Lap of the Day trophies. If you want an exhaust note to complete your picture of Greg's Mustang, check out this video of him in action.
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