In preparation for the 2018 drag racing season, Rebecca Starkey of VMP Performance has converted her Ruby Red 2015 Mustang into an ebony 2018 Mustang Ultra Street racer. (Photo Credit: VMP Performance)
VMP Performance recently shared its latest supercharger — the Gen3 TVS — with us. This high-flow blower is based on Eaton’s new 2650 rotor pack and it is said to be good for over 1,000-horsepower. With that in mind, the VMP team needs an appropriate test bed and now they have it in the form of Rebecca Starkey’s S550 racer converted to the 2018 Mustang look via carbon fiber panels.
We could update it with an ’18 front bumper, fascia, headlights, hood, and rear bumper. — Rebecca Starkey, VMP Performance
“It began its life as a Ruby Red base model with a Coyote and MT-82,” Rebecca said of her 2015 turned 2018 Mustang. “Shortly after we bought it, it got a 25.3 cage. At that point, we started weight reduction — cutting out spot welds, removing sound deadening, and just getting the car ready to be super light.”
Helping reduce that weight and give the car a fresh look were a host of carbon fiber pieces from Anderson Composites as well as lightweight, safe composite windows from Optic Armor. These upgrades allowed Rebecca to keep momentum with her existing racer, while keeping the car’s look current.
“We devoted a lot of time to my other car. It recently ran an 8.37 at the Mod Nationals race. The car went on the back burner, but we came back to it this year. We were super excited for the ’18s, but that was another crack for the car to slip through, so we decided to keep the car fresh and not let it slip down that hole, we could update it with an ’18 front bumper, fascia, headlights, hood, and rear bumper,” Rebecca explained. “We got a rendering and included an idea for a cowl hood in it. We sent that to the people at Anderson Composites and formed a partnership. They sent us their carbon fiber fenders, a carbon fiber cowl hood, carbon fiber doors, a carbon fiber trunk deck, a carbon fiber front fascia, and rear diffuser.”
This transformation took place over a matter of weeks, as the Mod Nationals took place in mid-November right after the SEMA show. From there on out the work began to prep the car for the PRI Show and Rebecca was there getting her hands dirty and helping make it happen.
“After talking to the guys at TRZ, Duck’s races seemed like great opportunities to get my feet wet with dedicated radial racing, which I love, and where we saw a lot of potential for growth,” Rebecca told us. “It was definitely a ‘get in where I could fit in’ situation with the ’11 car, and even though I wasn’t competitive, I had a blast. We will run the big Ultra Street races — both of Duck’s races, Yellow Bullet Nationals, Shakedown at the Summit, World Street Nationals, and possibly other Ultra races. In addition to the inclusion in Ultra rules, I am seeking inclusion with NMRA for Renegade, so those races will be options as well. Wherever I can crossover and race, I will!”
“After SEMA, the build began in earnest,” she explained. “We did a bunch of prep, sanding, grinding, filling the holes in the firewall. We painted the car, exterior, engine bay, and interior. Dave Tucci at Tucci Hotrods sent us one of his awesome drag wings, and I borrowed some Weld wheels for the show, but I will be going to a set of beadlocks.”
While the car is just a roller at this point, it certainly looks the part of a serious performer and it will have to be, as Rebecca set her sights on the cut-throat Ultra Street class run during the two Duck X Productions races held at South Georgia Motorsports Park.
“Following PRI we are going to continue the build,” Rebecca added. “We are gonna run Ultra Street in it. I ran both of Duck’s races this year in Ultimate Street in the old car and had a blast. The car will get a built motor. We are not set on it yet, but heavily considering a Bear block with L&M sleeves. I will likely assemble it myself. We will continue with a Proformance TH400 as is in my current car. The car will get significant suspension upgrades that we are partnering with TRZ Motorsports and AA Performance on.”
Of course, it will run our new Gen3 blower. — Rebecca Starkey, VMP Performance
With a heavily fortified Coyote putting down four-digit power via a race suspension, the VMP team will need as much control as they can get over the engine combo, which is why this revamped racer will mark the first time a VMP project will operate at the behest of a standalone aftermarket electronic fuel injection system rather than the stock PCMs that VMP is best known for tuning.
“We simply need more data and more control at this level,” she explained. “It’s what the style of racing dictates. We will still have the ’11 car to continue research and development (with the stock PCM). We have not chosen a system yet, but great data and something that is still accessible to the customer base is of paramount importance. We don’t want to get so esoteric that it is inaccessible.”
Rebecca put a lot of elbow grease into converting her race car into a 2018 Mustang Ultra Street competitor that will be powered by Gen3 TVS-boosted Coyote race engine. The exterior updates include carbon fiber fenders, a cowl hood, doors, deck lid, front fascia, and rear diffuser from Anderson Composites.
That additional control will, naturally, also help the VMP crew reap maximum gains from it’s new TVS supercharger, which will certainly be exciting to witness.
“Of course, it will run our new Gen3 blower,” Rebecca concluded. “We did so much more with the Gen2R than we ever imagined, and we know that the Gen3 will be competitive in the Ultra Street class. We have petitioned for its inclusion into the Ultra Street rules to ensure that we are legitimate!”
Moving forward, Rebecca and her VMP teammates are set on taking TVS power to the front in 2018 and they have the appropriate Mustang to do the job.