Pony Wars 2, Episode 4: Driveline and Suspension Upgrades

Things are heating up as the battle to build the best pony car continues in Pony Wars Season 2. Last episode we took a look at each teams engine combinations and how it affected their $10,000 Summit Racing budget.

Since using that big power is just as important as making it in this competition, this week we learn how the three teams are supplementing their power mods with suspension and driveline upgrades. Remember, each team will compete on more than just the dyno and drag strip, so their performance on the autocross course and braking challenge are every bit as important.

2019 Mustang GT Premium

In the last episode, we learned the FordNXT Team, led by two-time NMCA Champion and X275 Mustang racer James Lawrence, put their focus on suspension and handling which is an entirely different strategy then the other two teams.

Suspension on the Mustang consists of Steeda’s Pro Action adjustable shocks and struts (PN 555-8157), which were designed to reduce wheel hop, squat and body roll with its proprietary shock valving and adjustable rebound. And they are designed specifically for lowered S550s like ours. From there, the Mustang has two spring setups: one for the drag race and one for autocross.

The Mustang GT Drag Springs (PN 555-8231) lower the front of the car 1.25-inches and the lower the rear .5-inch. Using linear 150 lb/in front and 800 lb/in rear rates, the drag springs are designed to improve the weight transfer on launch but are still considered street driveable. By contrast, the Ultimate Handling springs used for autocross (PN 555-8246) have a heavier dual spring rate design for improved handling and also remain usable for street driving. These are the springs proven in Steeda’s Q500 as well as NASA and SCCA competition Mustangs.

To reduce body roll and improve handling, the Mustang received adjustable 1 ⅜-inch front and 1 1/8-inch rear sway bars (PN 555-1017), and aluminum camber arms (PN 555-4123) with nylon coated spherical bearings to adjust the camber from minus 5 degrees to positive 2 degrees. The adjustability of both parts will allow them to easily change setups from the autocross to the drag strip.

With added power and torque, the drivetrain needed an upgrade in the axle/driveshaft department. Budget constraints kept them from upgrading the converter as well.

FordNXT decided to upgrade the driveline with GForce Engineering axles (PN FOR10107A) made from aerospace billet alloy, with 31-spline billet alloy CV joints for increased spline engagement, and a lightweight aluminum driveshaft (PN FOR10209A) for dependability.

Finally, the Mustang uses Hawk Performance DTC-30 brake pads (front  PN HB774.650, rear PN HB802W.661) composed of a multi-purpose compound for consistent and smooth braking and a smooth pedal feel.

2019 Camaro SS

For Ron Mowen and his Vengeance Racing team, the competition isn’t just about big power from a built motor and D-1X blower. The Camaro team is going after the autocross points with big suspension and handling upgrades from BMR.

Vengeance Racing opted for a set of BMR Lowering Springs (PN BMR-SP041R). According to Frank Steadman, the 6th Gen Camaro specialist at BMR, the springs  improve handling and stability because they are Linear Rate Springs with 175lbs/in front rate and 640lbs/in rear rate. 

To reduce body roll, the team added adjustable sway bars (PN BMR-SB052H) from BMR. Steadman said the part features a hollow design and is manufactured from 1.25-inch heavy-wall DOM tubing and is three-way-adjustable. 

“The front bar provides 33%-96% rate of increase based on the mounting hole selection. The rear bar provides 73%-125% based on the mounting hole selection,” confirmed Steadman.

Other suspension components include adjustable upper control arms (PN BMR-UTCA061H) with polyurethane bushings for improved handling and stability by reducing deflection, upper trailing arms and lower trailing arms for a reduction in wheel hop and improved stability under acceleration and braking by reducing deflection,  and adjustable toe rods (PN BMR-TR007H) with low deflection bushings to keep the rear wheels positioned for better launch stability, consistent handling, and increased braking ability.

Vengeance also decided to add both a front and rear Chassis Brace (PN BMR-CB009H, BMR-CB008H), which have a bolt-on design to increase chassis stiffness. 

The Camaro makes use of Hawk Performance HP Plus Brake Pads in the front (PN HB726N.582) and rear (PN HB194N.570). They feature a high-temperature resistant compound that won’t effect rotor wear, noise, and dust that is normally associated with “race-level” braking as they were designed for the serious street and autocross enthusiast.

2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack

Mike Copeland, CEO of Arrington Performance, put considerable money into making the Challenger handle. As a result, Copeland utilizes RideTech HQ Coil-over shocks (PN 13040210) as well as other suspension upgrades.

The RideTech Coil-overs feature an internal mono-tube design, with a spherical bearing for smoother operation and less give. With 24 positions of rebound adjustment, Arrington plans to take full advantage when switching between the drag strip and autocross. Additionally, the high tensile strength Hyperco springs come powder-coated for durability.

Other suspension upgrades include adjustable SPC upper control arms (PN 66045) made of steel with an adjustable ball joint and polyurethane bushings, and a 1 ¼-inch chromoly steel Hellwig sway bar (PN 5910) for added control through corners.

GForce Engineering supplied the Challenger with a 4-inch aluminum driveshaft (PN MOP 10205A) and a set of axles (PN MOP 10102A), which serve as a direct factory replacement. The GForce axle design features with anti-wheel hop technology and allows for more travel and an increased operating angle over the OE axles.

Given its size and weight (4,200 lbs estimated), the Challenger is most certainly an underdog in the autocross and braking despite having the largest OEM brake package. Copeland is utilizing Hawk DTC-30 Brake Pads (PN HB649W.605 front, PN HB194W.570 rear) made from a multi-purpose compound.

Three teams, three different cars, one winner. Who will be the next Pony Wars champion? Tune in for Episode 5 as each team starts to install the ProCharger system.

The 2019 season of Pony Wars is made possible by some of the leading companies in our industry, including Summit RacingCOMP CamsTCIK&N Filters, Toyo Tires, MAHLE MotorsportsDyna-BattWeld RacingCorsa PerformanceFragolaHolleyDiabloSport, NOSE3 Spark PlugsTotal SealMickey ThompsonMoser EngineeringBMR SuspensionMiller ElectricAerospace ComponentsVictor ReinzMorosoUS GearHawk PerformanceLucas OilPRW IndustriesWeld RacingVP RacingNOSProCharger, and ARP. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a wild ride!

About the author

Nicole Ellan James

As an automotive journalist and avid car enthusiast, Nicole Ellan James has a passion for automotive that is reflected in every aspect of her lifestyle. Follow Nicole on Instagram and Facebook - @nicoleeellan
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