With the popularity of the Ford Mustang EcoBoost platform gaining notoriety, we are seeing more and more racers choosing this turbo 2.3-liter four-cylinder for the track than ever before. Last fall during the NMRA World Finals at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Bill Putnam from UPR Products won the EcoBoost shootout with this 2015 yellow EcoBoost Mustang.

The times he ran to win the class were impressive considering that this Mustang is utilizing the stock frame Garrett GT22 twin-scroll turbocharger combined with an unmolested OEM long block. UPR specializes in late model Ford aftermarket performance products, and UPR’s products gave Bill the winning combination at the NMRA world finals.

The turnout was higher than expected for the first ever EcoBoost shootout. The level of performance from these vehicles put on an impressive showdown, and the level of competition was high.

Aesthetically the exterior looks stock, but on closer inspection there are several details like a new tail panel that make a statement.

During the shootout we witnessed a 12-second Focus ST and an even faster F-150 with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that broke the 11 second barrier in the quarter-mile. Unlike the diehard V8 enthusiasts, and their seemingly perceived advantage (no replacement for displacement), the EcoBoost engine platform is catching on like wildfire in the aftermarket performance world. With boosted direct injection engines that also feature variable valve-timing, this engine platform is proving its competence through various motorsport outlets – not only in the drag scene, but on the grid as well.

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Stock Block Breaking Records

UPR’s Mustang’s long-block has completely stock internals and the turbocharger is the same Garrett GT22 that was installed when it left Ford’s factory in Michigan.  To achieve the winning quarter-mile pass time, a combination of UPR products almost broke the 11 second zone. Putnam’s winning pass at the EcoBoost shootout was an et of 12.04 seconds, with a 1.67 second 60-foot time and a trap speed of 112 mph. This is outstanding considering his Mustang has only bolt-on aftermarket parts, further proving the car’s potential right out of the box.

With only bolt-on modifications, this stock long-block EcoBoost Mustang proved itself by taking home the NMRA World Title.

The engine’s ancillary boost components have been changed for precision and durability. The boost levels are modulated by a Turbosmart blow-off valve and a matching Turbosmart wastegate.  An off-the-shelf Airaid intake system was used to improve air consumption with its SynthaMax filter, without hindering filtration characteristics. Keeping the engine compartment heat out is Airaid’s enclosed air-box that draws cooler ambient air from the grille. The Garrett turbo keeps the charged air cool through the use of an FFTEC intercooler, and UPR’s Steve Gelles said it is keeping thermal fluctuations to a minimum. While at the NMRA finals, the car was running 27 psi of boost and the effectiveness of this intercooler was put to the test with back-to-back drag pulls during competition.

Maxing The OEM Garrett Turbo (GT22)

Gelles said he is very pleased with the results of the FFTEC “Max!” intercooler, and its ability to thermally manage the hot air blown by the overspun OEM turbocharger. It has been well documented that the EcoBoost Garrett turbochargers are pushed outside their operational efficiency range at around 27 psi. Consequently this is when the turbo begins to blow hot air. The effect is more dramatic while using pump gas, making intercooler effectiveness critical. Heat-soak has not been an issue while at the track and Gelles said UPR plans to add more boost once the car has a fuel system to support the additional air. The FFTEC intercooler has the ability to handle boost from 5 psi all the way to 50 psi, and the bar-plate design permits minimal pressure drop while exhibiting effective thermal retardation and temperature recovery.

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FFTEC – Max! intercooler for the Ford Mustang EcoBoost, which UPR used to win the NMRA World Finals in the EcoBoost class. (Image via FFTEC)

Tuning was left in the hands of John Jr. at Lund Racing. The Mustang was tuned using VP MS109 octane fuel, reducing the likelihood of knock at the elevated boost levels his Mustang sees.

To improve how the Mustang hooked off the line, WELD Racing RT-S (S71 series) three-piece forged billet wheels were used, along with Mickey Thompson drag radials. The Mickey Thompson specs at the time of the shootout measured 295/45R17. Although the tires are considered small in width when compared to some, these coupled with Lund’s tune that progressively ramped the boost curve (via three-port boost solenoid), allowed the Mustang to obtain quick 60-foot times without breaking the tires loose. The combination was obviously solid as it propelled Putnam to the event win.

Expelling the spent turbocharger exhaust gases is a Magnaflow catback exhaust system, which also keeps the decibels to streetable tones for street driving.  A UPR, off-road only, down pipe was installed to improve the exhaust scavenging effect and decrease back-pressure. UPR designed a dual valve catch-can to catch any blow-by oil and provide sufficient crankcase ventilation for street and track use.

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UPR’s dual valve catch-can designed for the 2015 EcoBoost Mustang.

UPR designs and tests all of its products before releasing them to the public. The company developed vertical billet links to improve traction off the line, which enhanced launch times greatly. Before the vertical links were installed the best 60-foot time to date was 1.59 seconds. Once the newly designed UPR vertical links were installed the 60-foot times went down to 1.52 seconds, demonstrating that replacing the vertical links is proven method to increase 60-foot performance at the track.

Getting Traction

Other tricks employed by UPR to increase launch traction characteristics, and consequently reduce weight, was removing the front sway bar. UPR adjustable toe end-links were used to dial in the alignment for better launches and optimizing the inherent squat characteristics of the IRS. Aesthetically, the only exterior modification was a Lethal Performance grille delete.

UPR Vertical Links for the IRS system in the 2015 Mustang EcoBoost – constructed of 2024 aluminum and utilize Delrin bushings. Proven to reduce 60-foot times (Image via UPR)

In an attempt to reduce rotating mass, a Drive Shaft Shop carbon fiber drive-shaft was used, which not only improved the torsional strength but it radically reduced the shafts weight overall. Ultimately this reduced rotating mass by a large margin and it has the capability to handle 1,000 horsepower, which is perfect for UPR’s future goals. Also from DSS was that company’s stage 2 half-shafts, which were used to take the abuse of drag racing use. The OEM half-shafts have long been proven the weakest length in the S550 Mustang’s drivetrain.

Since the shootout in October 2015, the car has bested its own time, with an 11.76 et in the quarter-mile at 113 mph. And, with the aforementioned newly designed UPR vertical links, the 60-foot time was reduced to 1.52 seconds. Gelles said “UPR has plans to modify the fuel system in the future to satisfy the fuel requirements of anticipated higher boost levels.” Although the Mustang has not been officially dyno’d yet, you can almost guarantee that it’s making around or above 400 horsepower to the rear wheels in its current configuration, judging by its trap speed and gross vehicle weight.

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