There was a time when drifting was the domain of high-winding import machines. These days, however, it is just as common to see a Mustang taking on the world in this tire-smoking automotive ballet that pits driver skill against the track, his competitor, and the discretion of the judges. It is in the ultra-competitive world of Formula Drift that you’ll see Justin Pawlak doing battle in his 2015 Roush Mustang.
The new S550 Mustang chassis is amazing! — Justin Pawlak
“The new S550 Mustang chassis is amazing!” Justin enthused. “It is definitely the best chassis Ford has developed to date.”
Thanks to the level of performance afforded by the latest Mustangs and the success seen by their drivers, the Mustang is now an accepted machine in the drifting world, much as it is in any other motorsports venue, but for a while it was seen as an upstart.
“I definitely think with the success of myself, Vaughn Gittin and now Chelsea DeNofa, we have solidified the acceptance of the Mustang into the drifting industry,” Justin said.
Now that there are three Mustangs competing in the series, it’s hard to ignore them – but like most drifters, Justin got his start in a Brand X machine before transitioning into the saddle of a Mustang.
“The first time that I ever saw drifting back in early 2000s I was immediately attached to it,” Justin explained. “Being able to slide a car around that looked like a car that should be on display at a car show looked amazing! It was a total display of style, one that incorporated both expression of car design, building prowess, and driving skill. I knew it was for me!”
And that it was. Justin quickly built his own car and entered the world of competitive drifting, though on a much smaller scale than he competes today.
This was a life-changing opportunity on so many levels. — Justin Pawlak
Pulling Justin into the next level was the offer to join a competitive team backed by a major tire sponsor. It’s what drivers dream about. Getting called up to the big leagues.
Making power with the Coyote Aluminator platform and Roush Supercharger is really easy. — Justin Pawlak
Since strapping into a Mustang, Justin hasn’t looked back. However, it was a chance meeting with someone from Roush Performance that turned into something bigger and put him behind the wheel of a 1,000-horsepower Roush Mustang.
2015 Roush Mustang Mods
Block: Stock Coyote aluminum
Crankshaft: Mustang GT forged steel crankshaft
Rods: Manley H-beam connecting rods w/ ARP 2000 bolts
Pistons: Mahle hard-anodized forged pistons w/ Graphal low-friction coating
Camshafts: Mustang GT production camshafts
Cylinder Heads: Four-valve-per-cylinder aluminum heads with roller-finger followers
Intake: Roush intercooled lower
Power Adder: Roush TVS 2300 2.3-liter supercharger
Fuel System: Walbro fuel pump w/ Earl’s PTFE fuel lines, Radium Engineering fuel rails, Radium Engineering fuel pressure regulator, and Injector Dynamics 1,700cc fuel injectors
Exhaust: Kooks 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers
Engine Management: Ford Performance Controls Pack PCM w/ Roush Performance calibration
Ignition: Stock w/ NGK spark plugs
A-arms: Hot Line Performance 74-degree angle kit
Struts: KW Suspension
Springs: KW Suspension
Wheels: Weld Racing RT-S S79, 18×9-inch
Tires: Falken Tire Azenis 615k , 255/40-18
Shocks: KW Suspension
Springs: KW Suspension
Brakes: Wilwood calipers w/ Hot Line Performance dual-caliper kit
Wheels: Weld Racing RT-S S79, 18×10.5-inch
Tires: Falken Tire Azenis 615k , 295/40-18
Delivering that tire-shredding performance is a pretty straightforward combination of a Ford Performance Parts Coyote crate engine, a Roush 2300 TVS supercharger and a VMP Performance-enhanced front-engine accessory drive.
“The drivetrain is fairly simple, but making power with the Coyote Aluminator platform and Roush Supercharger is really easy, so most of my attention was toward the suspension,” he said. “The suspension is definitely tuned for drifting. Getting 74-plus degrees of steering angle isn’t easy.”
During the course of the 2017 season, Justin has continued to tweak the car for performance.
A teardown of his drift-tested crate engine showed the blown Coyote is definitely up to the task, so he continued to concentrate on improving the car’s on-track handling.
“I made some small adjustments to my front-angle kit and some spring changes on the coilovers. Just minor adjustments to make the car faster and drive easier,” Justin explained. “It has been performing better and better each round,” Justin told us during the season. “Developing a new chassis is never easy, especially when you’re pioneering new ground. But the things this car does are amazing. I feel each and every event gets better and better!”
As the season came to a close during the finalé at Irwindale, California, Justin ranked 14th in the Formula Drift standings and he’ll be looking to improve upon that next season.