For the 2015 Formula Drift season competitors racing Ford Mustangs had to rely on the S197 chassis to compete in the top echelon of drifting in the USA. While the S197 is quite a capable car, the chassis was more than 10 years old, and not as up-to-date as much of the car’s competition.

Even with the older chassis, Justin Pawlak (JTP) was able to finish the Formula Drift season seventh in points. JTP hasn’t been resting on his Top 10 finish however, he’s had his sights set on this championship, and has been carefully constructing an all-new S550 chassis-based Formula D car for the 2016 season.

With help from Roush Performance, Ford Performance, Falken Tire, Weld Racing, and a slew of other important contributors, Pawlak put the car together at his Hot Line Performance shop and brought it out to display in the Roush booth at the 2015 SEMA Show.

This car started life as a regular production Ford Mustang GT. JTP and his crew completely disassembled the car and transformed it into he drift missile you see here. The new IRS suspension should offer a dramatically improved stability and predictability during all maneuvers on the track as compared to the S197s solid rear axle (SRA). JTP says the problem with the old SRA setup was that no matter what adjustments or suspension setting were made, the rear end still moved around considerably during track sessions.


All of the rear suspension’s rubber bushings have been removed and replaced with spherical and billet components. JTP says he’s looking forward to the consistency the IRS has offered, and he’s working with Gateway Performance on developing some new parts for the S550 chassis.

As for the engine, JTP will once again run a Ford Performance Aluminator crate engine. However, in the past he’s run the 9.5:1 version, which has been good for 800 to 850 rear wheel horsepower. This year, through his sponsorship with Roush Performance, he will benefit from that company’s research and development with the 11:1 Coyote engine. JTP will thus utilize the higher compression ratio version of the Aluminator along with a Roush Performance supercharger. “This year we’re going to 11:1, the Roush engineers have been doing a lot of tuning and getting great power out of the cars. We’re looking for 900 horsepower at the wheel next year,” JTP said.

All that horsepower is routed through an Exedy ET03XD twin-disc clutch. Making that part even cooler is that it’s not an exotic race only custom part, it’s an off the shelf clutch that anyone can order. JTP ran this clutch last season with zero failures. Gear switches come via a A431 manual gearbox transmission from Andrews Products set up specifically for this car. In addition, the rear end will get a Driveshaft Shop 9-inch center section and axles.

Weld Racing is once again onboard providing the wheels and of course longtime sponsor, Falken, will provide the rubber. The entire build has been fully-documented, and with JTP’s help, we’ll bring it to you step-by-step right here in the coming months. The car has yet to be tested, but rest assured, by the time Formula D heads to Long Beach for its season opener, JTP and this wicked creation will be ready.

We are hopeful the new chassis and technology in the S550 Mustang platform will propel JTP and his Roush Mustang towards many podium finishes and a championship in the very near future.