The car community is concentrated around niche markets, which cater to individual vehicle marques and even more specialized groups that focus on one specific engine platform. Then, motorsports and lifestyle events centered around those platforms take shape. Mod Motor Mustangs founder Justin Young realized there was an untapped opportunity to introduce an event based around the Modular engine platform, and the ModNationals came to be.
The third installment of the ModNationals was held recently at South Georgia Motorsports Park, home to many major events such as Donald Long’s Lights Out, Sweet 16, and No Mercy, among others. It’s for a good reason, as SGMP’s President of Operations and track prep guru Wade Rich—along with the rest of his team—know how to make records fall.
Walking through the gates and into the pits, I felt like family. Justin, as well as the track staff, racers, and vendors were open and willing to talk to me about any questions I had regarding their cars and engine combinations. Many of the top late-model Mustang vendors attended the show to display products and merchandise, along with providing expert advice for customers and event attendees. Accufab, Inc. showcased its trick billet CNC-machined Coyote engine block, which is designed for ultimate horsepower capability and was developed with the assistance of the horsepower experts at Brad Anderson Enterprises.
Bullseye Power had an array of its top-performing turbochargers on display, as well as the company’s 3,200-wheel-horsepower drag car.
The weekend began with a private paid testing session, designed for racers to get extra laps in to prepare for qualifying. Unfortunately, Mother Nature showed her bad side throughout Friday, which forced Justin to cancel round one of qualifying. With racers coming from as far as Michigan and fans from as far away as Alaska, everyone was still out to make the best of a bad situation. Those who stayed trackside riding out the weather had some of the best BBQ and brisket I’ve ever tasted, and we had some laughs to go along with it.
Saturday came, and all things looked good from the weatherman, so Wade and the track crew tirelessly worked to get the track surface back into tip-top shape. A few racers made hits in an attempt to get at least one round of qualifying in, but just like the day before, the weather didn’t play nice, which forced everyone to stop for the day.
Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day; with cool temperatures and negative density altitude, some awesome racing action was sure to follow! While most racers were untested, the morning was a scramble for some to be prepared for qualifying. Everyone knows how Wade Rich and his track prep team rolls—when cars go down his track, they hook. Unfortunately, for a few racers, broken driveshafts, pinons, axles, and gears put an end to their weekend quickly.
The ModNationals classes were set up so that everyone would have a heads-up class to run in, from street cruisers to trucks, all-out drag cars, and everything in between.
Most of the classes are sectioned into Street and Pro categories; it’s categorized this way to level the playing field across the board, with the hope of pairing the faster cars with faster cars and slower guys together. It works well, as the fans were able to see some tight racing on Sunday.
Keith Rhea dominated in King of the Four Valve Pro, as he came out swinging in his white twin-turbo Cobra, not only winning the class but resetting his own Modular-powered door car record with a 6.64 at 209 mph. That’s impressive, especially when you realize his Cobra is a factory-style non-tube-chassis car.
King Of The Four-Valve Street is where you start to see more street-driven, tagged, and insured cars. Brian Devilbiss won the battle in his 2019 Edelbrock-supercharged Mustang; during the weekend he also scored a best pass of 8.44 at 162 mph to capture the Gen 3 supercharged Mustang record.
The R80 Pro class specifies that all cars must use the factory Ford 6R80 or 10R80 transmission, and Austin Prather’s turbocharged 2014 Mustang became victorious with his 8.14 at 174 mph pass. It turns out that bags aren’t just for hard parking after all, as R80 Street’s Joe Glockner came away with the win in his bagged S550 turbo Mustang, going 8.79 at 162 mph to eliminate top qualifier Monty Mullenix.
Heavy Street was filled with both cars and trucks, all of which are at or close to the factory weight. Jim Braun pushed his turbocharged 2012 Mustang through the finish line with an 8.12 at 176 mph to take the win.
One of the best things about certain power adders is how easy they are to install; for example, a supercharger can be bolted on to many engine applications. Aside from the fact that some of Ford’s factory Mustangs like the GT500 came with a supercharger, it’s the most popular power-adder among late-model Mustang enthusiasts. With that in mind, two classes were built just for these cars: All Blower Street and Pro. Mike Ciborowski took home the win in All Blower Pro in his 2014 VMP supercharged Mustang. Not only did he win the class title, but he also set the VMP blower record with an outstanding 7.98 at 170 mph blast! In All Blower Street, Rick Baum defeated all of the four-valve competition in his supercharged two-valve 2000 Mustang with a 9.30 at 146 mph to eliminate Jason Wagoner.
The semi-forgotten two- and three-valve Mod motor guys wanted the chance to have some fun, so Justin made provisions for them to have their class as well. Bryan Hanson came away with the win, turning in an impressive 8.49 at 161 mph in his 2006 three-valve turbo Mustang.
For those who dare say no to the boost gods, Outlaw All Motor was the class to watch; NMRA Coyote Stock regular Drew Lyons came out on top with his stick-shifted Coyote-swapped 1988 Fox with an impressive 9.77 at 135mph to take the win over fellow Coyote Stock competitor—and number-one qualifier—Darin Hendricks.
Some of my favorite racing has always been watching stick cars battle it out on the track, as it puts the driver in more control of what they can do with their platform. Being out on top of the stick-shifted Mustang community seems to come easy to Yandro Ulloa in his ’98 Mustang Cobra; he let out and won going 8.36 at 144 mph over Taylor Hendrick. Don’t let that ET fool you about this car’s capabilities, though, as he made two passes of 7.59 and 7.60 at 190 mph in his 1998 Cobra earlier in the day.
There seems to be a trend for what people refer to as “micro records” on social media, and especially in the Mustang community.
I knew Wade would have something up his sleeve for this event. Most events he prepares the track for at SGMP offer up broken records to the internet, so I kept my eyes open, and sure enough, some of these micro records emerged. The one that stood out to me the most was Taylor Hedrick’s two-valve, stick-shifted turbo Mustang GT. In this day and time, most would’ve swapped for a four-valve variant, switched to a small-block Ford or—gasp—done an LS swap long ago. Not Taylor, though. He’s dead set on pushing his two-valve until it just can’t go any further. He was able to muster a 5.75 at 119 mph to the eighth-mile and an 8.886 at 163 mph in the quarter out of the little engine, all while rowing his gears! This performance is downright impressive! Stick cars seem to stand out the most because as technology progresses and more people move to an automatic transmission, the ones who stick around are really in it for the long haul. I used to own a stick-shifted, Coyote-powered Mustang and know how poor the MT-82 manual gearbox behind the Coyote platform can be to use, especially at the dragstrip. From the plastic shift forks inside the gearbox to the remote-mounted shifter that always seems to do the opposite of what you tell it to do, going fast with one of these setups is no easy task. But, believe it or not, John Askey went 5.99 at 122 mph to the eighth-mile, and 9.27 at 151 mph in the quarter in his twin-turbo S550 to break the MT-82 record.
With each year that passes, the Mustang and Mod Motor Mustangs community grows, which means that Justin won’t stop hosting the ModNationals anytime soon. He’s already announced the 2020 edition will take place November 13–15, 2020. I hope everyone enjoys seeing the sights through my camera, as I captured this very fun and laid-back event.