Veteran small-tire drag racer Ken Quartuccio, Jr. recently pulled the wraps off his new 1968 Ford Mustang intended for Radial versus The World and Pro Mod/Pro Boost competition…and then proceeded to rack up some enormous horsepower numbers on the chassis dynamometer at FuelTech USA in Ball Ground, Georgia.
The Wallingford, Connecticut racer last competed in Radial versus The World last summer before selling his state-of-the-art C7 Corvette to Australian Perry Bullivant. Following a motorcycle accident and subsequent recovery earlier this year, the opportunity presented itself to purchase the Mustang, built by Jerry Bickel Race Cars and very briefly campaigned by Rickie Smith in the NHRA Pro Mod ranks. With racing largely on hiatus around the country due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Quartuccio slowed his progress in finalizing the build-up, but is now full-steam ahead, with plans to test for three days next week in Virginia before a planned debut at the COMP Cams Shakedown Nationals, September 16-19.
Not one to draw attention to himself or his racing exploits, Quartuccio says he respectfully chose to not promote the Mustang this spring, saying, “Realistically, I didn’t feel like it was appropriate when Covid hit and everyone was out of jobs, to promote that I had a new car.”
“We were working to get it ready for Sweet 16, and then the virus hit,” Quartuccio goes on to explain, adding, “this was Rickie’s old car…he built it for turbos and ran it for three or four races. Someone else had bought it and given Rickie a deposit, but that deal fell through and I bought it.”
Quartuccio procured the car as a roller and, with guidance from tuner Jamie Miller, sourced a complete engine package from Pro Line Racing — a raised-cam Hemi with AJPE block and heads and (at current) 94mm Precision turbochargers.
“Our plan is to go back and forth between RvW and Pro Boost and run some NMCA stuff,” Quartuccio shares. With Shakedown, Sweet 16, No Mercy, and other radial races on the docket for this fall, the PDRA and NMCA Xtreme Pro Mod debut likely won’t come until 2021, although Ken notes, “that’s if we see promising results…if we don’t, with the way the rules are now and how we can run with Jamie tuning it, then I’ll probably convert it back to Pro Mod and we’ll run NMCA or something next year.”
“I’m hoping that things get back to normal and there’s a series next year…I’ve always liked racing in series, so that could mean NMCA or PDRA.”
When Quartuccio last competed in RvW, the rules structure had shifted in a fashion that rendered turbocharged cars at a distinct disadvantage, but in the months since, the winds of change have righted the parity amongst the power adders, and Quartuccio and Miller believe they can now run in the 3.50s and be competitive.
“We have to be 50-pounds heavier than Daniel Pharris was when he went 3.57, but we have a new engine design, bigger turbos, and as good of a car as he had. So I think it has the potential to go mid-to-upper 3.50s, but I do think the competition — Stevie, Markewiecz, and the nitrous cars — they have a lot left in the bank. So that’s what worries me. We’re going to use that 3.57 as the benchmark, and if we can run that and we still aren’t even in the ballpark, then I probably won’t chase the radial stuff anymore.”
Quartuccio’s Mustang features the full compliment of FuelTech products, including the FT600 ECU and digital dash, FTSpark distributor-less ignition, Alcohol O2 dual channel conditioner, Peak & Hold injector driver unit, and more. On the dyno, the car churned out a staggering 4,822 horsepower at 8,947 rpm…to the wheels.