Drag racers become hooked on the sport in one of several different ways: a ride in a seriously-quick straight-line car, an opportunity to get to the dragstrip with a friend, and sometimes, through a family member who shares their exposure to what is arguably the most intense motorsport on earth. It is through this latter path that Texas racer Brandon Dominy made his way into the world of racing small-tire Mustangs.
“I grew up in drag racing. My dad, Waymon, had a Maverick when I was a little kid. It was a 1970 model, and in 1971 they made it into a racecar. We used to go to this local track here that’s closed now,” Brandon says.
As an aside, Dominy located Dad’s old car two years ago and purchased it back; it’s sitting in his shop awaiting a rebuild.
The enjoyable, lasting memories of that period of his life imprinted upon his developing brain and were of the type that he simply couldn’t overlook as he grew older. In my experience, many who follow the path of insanity that leads to becoming a drag racer simply can’t ignore the pull of the track. It is a place where the worries of the world simply melt away. All that becomes important is the performance of man and machine, and how to correct flaws to ensure said performance when the pressure is on. Whether that’s with a converted street car or a dedicated racecar is unimportant; it is the effort and challenge to find improvements that are so enthralling to the participants. In Brandon’s case, it was that first street car that converted him, and once the stage was set, he was hooked for life.
“My first racecar was a 1993 Mustang coupe that started out as a street car. I kept doing mods and street racing it a little bit. It had a 302 with nitrous on it, then I switched to a Windsor-style motor and sprayed it too much and broke the crank,” he says.
With a rebuild on tap, he took that car and made it into his first real racecar, which he used to compete in the Outlaw class of the now-defunct Clash of the Titans heads-up series in his home state of Texas. In the process, he learned the tricks of the trade racing against other well-known competitors like many-time champion Mike Murillo and others who have gone on to become successful in the world of small-tire racing—Mark Luton, Grant McCrary, Kevin Hargett, and Conrad Scarry among them. Dominy’s successes are hard-earned.
“I did really well with that car and won a lot of races with it. At the Clash of the Titans championship in 2004, all I had to do in the final race of the year was qualify and go one round to win the championship. We were trying to be the first one to go 7.99 in the class; we had gone 8.01, and Crede Young actually ended up going 7.99 that weekend. I had a switch panel go bad, and I didn’t know what it was; we fought it all weekend. We rewired the whole car, not knowing it was the switch panel. We blew the hood off it one time. I missed the championship by just that much, raced the car for a couple more months, then sold the car, and it went overseas,” he says.
The next car—an ’03 Mustang Cobra—came from Georgia, and instead of a big cubic-inch nitrous engine, it had a big-turbo Bennett Racing engine under the hood. Dominy brought the car home, added a second turbo, then realized he didn’t know how to run the turbo combination. He pulled the entire powerplant out of the car and contacted Jon Kaase Racing Engines about returning to the giggle gas world. A collaboration with Kaase turned into an 815 cubic-inch IHRA Pro Stock-style Hemi engine and a ton of nitrous oxide.
“We built this thing, and we fought with it a little bit. Things with life came, and I had to put it on hold for a little while, then I ended up selling the motor to a guy in Australia,” he says.
“I ended up buying another car—the red ’03 that Manny Buginga is racing now. X275 was just starting to get big, and the other car was an old Outlaw 10.5 car that didn’t have [stock] floorpans or anything like that in it. It took me a couple of years to get it put together, and then I raced it a little bit. I put it up for sale one day, then changed my mind and decided I didn’t want to sell it.”
One morning, he gets a text message from Manny around 6 am, asking if he wanted to sell the car. The text message later turned into a running conversation that ended with Buginga wiring a stack of money to the bank, and away the car went. That encounter turned into a good friendship that continues to this day, and left him without a car to race, again.
Fast-forward to the present day. He purchased the current Mustang from another racer—Russell Stone—then fitted it with a turbocharged engine constructed from parts he had been accumulating for a while, intending to chase the No Prep style of racing that has become huge in Texas.
“This car was actually a white GT with a sunroof when I bought it; it wasn’t that great-looking. I bought this car, and I had a motor at the shop to throw together, I had a transmission and converter. I figured I could just throw this thing together and go run No Prep. I took the car to Robert Follmer [at FX Custom Race Cars in Tomball, TX], who does my chassis work, and was going to clean up the firewall and mount the motor in it,” he says.
“I got it there, and we ended up cutting the whole car apart. The only thing we used on the car was the quarter panels, the center section of the cage, and the rearend. Everything else is completely new. We redid the front half, the back half, and I put a roof on it because I didn’t want a sunroof. New wheels, new tires, new brakes, everything. I fired it up one time, then sold the motor I had because I came up with the plan to build this small-block Hemi deal. We pretty much just built a whole new car.”
When I’m walking around the pits at any given event, I like to stop and dig into the details of a car if it catches my eye. It just so happened that when I caught Brandon on the first day at Lights Out 11 earlier this year, nobody was parked next to him yet, and the Mustang’s craftsmanship was on full display. The first thing that caught my eye was the firewall—most builders either leave it alone or box it in without any additional work, but Follmer’s attention to detail here is eye-catching and functional at the same time. Intending to reduce weight wherever possible, the theme of removing unnecessary material persists throughout the car with classy yet practical hole punch use. As I continued to look the car over, Follmer’s engineering of the small areas many don’t notice stuck out to me, and after talking to Brandon, I realized that he has a good thing going with his Texas-based team.
Of course, no top-flight racing effort becomes a reality without the support of family, and Brandon—while seriously outnumbered at home—credits the encouragement of his wife, Deanndra, and three girls, Breonna, Isabella, and Sophia, as motivation to end up in the winner’s circle. After all, Daddy has to be a superhero, right?
“We had three girls in 15 months—the twins are fixing to be six, and my oldest one just turned seven in April. It’s great—my kids were a life-changer for me. Racing was always first for me; like every racer, if I didn’t have what I needed I’d spend every last dollar to get it. I still love my racing, but [now] those girls are number one. The good thing about it is that they love it. When I had the red car, I would have to put my first-born in it every morning when she got up. When I sold that car to Manny, she was mad. She was mad at Manny! It took a couple of years for her to break that!” he laughs.
“The car I have now, she thinks she gave it to me. She asked me one day what I wanted for Christmas, when this car was about done, and I said I wanted another racecar. She wrote that down; we went to a cruise and she gave Santa her list and told him she wanted her daddy to have a new racecar for Christmas this year. We got it done and put it here into the garage, so I told her I got it for Christmas. She still tells everyone she got her daddy that blue racecar for Christmas.”
Justin McChesney of KBX Performance is dialing in the tuneup, Bennett Racing Engines is behind the ongoing development of the engine program, and other companies like M&M Transmission, ProTorque, Precision Turbo, and Menscer Motorsports are involved in sorting out the details. It’s only a matter of time before Brandon Dominy becomes a serious player in the Limited Drag Radial field with his turbocharged Mustang.
Brandon Dominy's Limited Drag Radial 1993 Ford Mustang
|450 cubic-inch Ford, Hammerhead Hemi cylinder heads, Bryant crankshaft, GRP aluminum connecting rods, Bennett Racing cast intake manifold. Machined and assembled by Bennett Racing Engines, Haleyville, AL.
|M&M Turbo400 2-speed transmission with ProTorque EV1 torque converter, PST carbon fiber driveshaft
|Fabricated 9-inch Ford housing, 3.73:1 ring and pinion, 40-spline axles, spool
|Roll cage originally built by Mike Duffy Race Cars, updated by Robert Follmer of FX Custom Race Cars, Menscer Motorsports front struts and rear canister shocks, ladder bar rear suspension, Racecraft Inc. tubular K-member
|Precision Turbo 106mm turbocharger
|BigStuff3 tuned by Justin McChesney of KBX Performance, Racepak digital dash, wired by Abdullah Alshatti at Pro-Wire
|Fiberglass hood, front bumper, and rear bumper by Schoneck Composites, splitter built by Robert Follmer, bodywork and paint by Anthony Soto, Pasadena, TX.
|Fabricated steering column, Larry Jeffers Race Cars steering wheel, Ultra-Carbon carbon fiber seat, Stroud seatbelt, carbon fiber door panels
|Wheels & Tires:
|Weld V Series
Front: 15x3.5-inch, Mickey Thompson ET Front tires, 26x4.5-17
Rear: 15x12-inch, Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pro, 275/60-15