Jeff McCool rolled into the Beech Bend Raceway Park for the 2018 Nitto Tire NMRA All-Ford Finals with one thing in mind—win the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout with his 5.0L Coyote-powered 1981 Mustang Coupe.
A year earlier, Jeff was a 2017 Stick Shift Shootout finalist, but he fell short and went home with the runner-up prize. With the format changed for 2018, power, consistency and quick reactions would equalize the field. Jeff was poised to compete, and his TREMEC-equipped Ford Mustang was ready to do its part.
In order to qualify for the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout, Jeff first had to run in QA-1 True Street. The TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout was made up of the top 8 racers with manual-transmissions posting the quickest three-run averages. This required completing the True Street 30-mile street cruise, making three back-to-back quarter-mile passes and finishing with one of the top 8 averages.
In all, 33 racers attempted to qualify for the shootout. Jeff accomplished the first goal of posting a top-8 average. After completing the obligatory 30-mile road tour, he ripped off runs of 11.126, 11.058 and 10.993 for a three-run average of 11.059. This placed him in the 7th qualifying spot for the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout. In fact, he qualified one spot ahead of his brother James.
“I’ve been a Mustang fan since the early 1980s,” said Jeff. “This car was completely stock when I purchased it. I found it scrolling eBay, it had 27 bids and I got it for $5,500. I bought it sight unseen and drove from Columbus to Virginia to pick it up the next day. I bought it with the sole purpose of Coyote-swapping it and making it into a fun, streetable drag car.”
Jeff’s 10-second Fox Body Mustang is powered by a used 5.0L Coyote engine that he pulled from an F-150 pickup. The engine was upgraded with a billet oil pump gear, a Mustang intake manifold, Mustang intake camshafts and free-flowing BBK Performance long-tube headers. The Coyote is fed by a JLT Performance cold-air intake, and it uses 80 lb/hr injectors along with an Aeromotive pump and regulator for fuel supply.
A true stick shift fan, Jeff backed the Coyote with a McLeod clutch and a TREMEC TKO transmission. “I’m on my third season with this transmission,” boasted Jeff. “I shift at 7,600 rpm and it’s fast and reliable. It’s a TREMEC TKO 600 modified by Liberty Transmissions. It shifts great and is also great on the street.”
Traction comes by way of a combo of AJE and Strange front suspension parts, and in the back are UPR control arms, Strange Engineering shocks, and Team Z springs. The lightweight Ford Mustang rides on Mickey Thompson tires mounted to Bogart Force 5 wheels.
Keeping with the stock, understated theme, Jeff sprayed his Mustang a silver hue from PPG and the stock vinyl interior was kept mostly intact. Just a Hurst shifter and a few Auto Meter gauges were added for improved function.
“The car is fast, fun, and very unique, because it’s an early 1980s Coupe,” said Jeff. “We were able to make 426 rear-wheel horsepower and the quickest run so far is a 10.77 at 126 mph. I wouldn’t have been able to build this car or my Pace Car without my friend Shannon Williams, or my tuner Brian Turner of Dynotune Motosports.”
In Bowling Green, Jeff took the crown in the TREMEC Stick-Shift Shootout championship beating Bob Myers in the final. For is effort, received the grand prize of a McLeod RXT clutch/flywheel clutch, plus he collected a $100 bonus from TREMEC for being one of the first 25 entries in True Street. “I have won a few races, but never one like this. And never with TREMEC and McLeod offering such prizes. Last year I was in the final, but there was no handicapped start and I had no possible chance of winning, so it was cool to have this format and I can’t thank NMRA, TREMEC and McLeod enough for putting on the race and offering such a great prizes.”