By Michael Galimi
Photos by Paul Rosner and Team Race Pages
It is an accomplishment that many have tried and all have failed—except for Michigan’s Cal Hayward and his 1991 Mustang GT. To say the seven-second Tremec True Street average has been years in the making would be an understatement. The category’s humble beginnings over twenty years ago could never have predicted such an accomplishment. NMRA fans and competitors were treated with a glimpse into the seven-second possibility four years when a dynamic duo out of Texas attempted history with their turbocharged coupe. The team came up short in NMRA competition. The seven fever went quiet for awhile, but it flared back up around two years ago when a select group of True Street racers started to get really serious.
We aren’t sure who fired the first shot but the modern group of players striving for the seven-second average included Cal Hayward, Chris Gish, Blair Brannock, and Chris Escobar. Each one brought a different steed into battle and each one, up until the 2014 NMRA World Finals, had suffered defeat in some form or another. The brightly hued Fox-body Mustang GT of Hayward would whistle its way into the record books after two years of breakage and heartache. He would finish the 2014 NMRA World Finals with a three-run average of 7.73 (7.63, 7.89, and 7.67) and Hayward didn’t just score the first seven-second average but he also achieved the quickest average in any of ProMedia’s divisions—NMRA, NMCA, and NMCA WEST.
“It comes down to testing and working the bugs out,” shared Hayward as he reminisced about the long road to the sevens. He continued, “you find the breaking point of everything and then back it off. This year we’ve never came close to breaking anything, so we could test a lot and keep pushing harder.” Last year Hayward said he couldn’t keep a transmission in the car but this year it was the little things that kept him from achieving the seven-second average sooner, like the time he had a flex-plate bolt come loose during the Super Nationals at Summit Motorsport Park (Norwalk, OH). But he never gave up, continuing to test while others took time off. Hayward would drive the car to the track, knock off seven-second runs, and drive home all in preparation for the big finale in Kentucky.
During all of the testing, he said it was about learning how to manage the power of the big Windsor, which is coupled to a pair of Bullseye 80mm turbochargers. A Pro EFI engine management system is responsible for keeping the Baker Engineering 427ci powerplant under control. He credits Errol at TPS for the tuning, which is more than just WOT-tuning because Hayward hits the Michigan streets regularly. That means the engine needs to run docile and smooth at part-throttle and have a bad attitude when wide-open. The engine itself is standard fare for a badass street car—the stroker Windsor is housed in a Dart block and uses a Callies crankshaft, Oliver billet rods, and Diamond custom pistons. Topside is a set of Trick Flow R heads, Edelbrock 2828 intake manifold, and custom Baker-designed camshaft. The fuel system highlights include a Waterman mechanical pump and massive Billet Atomizer 325 lb/hr fuel injectors.
As Hayward noted, a winning True Street combination isn’t just the big power but a good chassis. “My personal favorite was proving Mike Jovanis wrong. He’d tell me all the time that you could never run that fast through three passes because the track goes away. That you couldn’t push hard into the 1.30s (ed note: in the sixty-foot). But on my third pass in Bowling Green, the sixty-foot was the quickest,” he mused while looking over the record breaking time-slips. As a note, Hayward rocked a 1.34 short time as he cruised to a 7.67 at 186 mph on his final run. Precision Chassis built the SFI 25.5 cage while the rest of the Mustang carries the normal modifications. Adjustable shocks and struts aid tubular front and rear suspension systems, which keep the Mickey Thompson 315/60-15 drag radials hooked up even when the Bullseye turbochargers are singing at full-boost. A Rossler TH400 and PTC torque converter apply the power to the 8.8-inch rear housing.
More is on tap as Hayward is crafting a plan for next season that will deliver 190-plus mph performances in True Street and a weeklong journey for Drag Week. “The other day we were discussing the similarities and dissimilarities between True Street and Drag Week. You can work on the car with Drag Week but here, in True Street, when you do something, you are committed to that every pass,” Hayward said and continued, “If something breaks in True Street, you are done. That is the hardest thing with it.” Next year won’t be the first time he attempted the Drag Week challenge, two years ago he broke the motor on Day 1 and it led him to building a big Windsor to replace the busted 334ci one.
From 1,000-plus miles and a single hero run per day to defending his 7.73 True Street average in 2015, Hayward isn’t sitting idle this winter. A set of Menscer Motorsports rear shocks is on order to help lower the short-times to the 1.20 range. A custom 9-inch rear-end will be slung under the backside so Hayward can “get after it” with more power at the launch. As Hayward continues to refine his combination, he looks to the future of Drag Week, defending his True Street record, and some of the more fun stops on the NMRA tour like the Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing at Route 66 Raceway (Joliet, IL).
The Joliet stop on tour is more than just a True Street race. “I really like going to the Joliet race and having a chance at winning a Nitto Tire Diamond Tree ring,” Hayward said. But it is also the lure of the Shootouts like the one at the NMRA season opener. “I would love to run heads-up but I don’t have the time or big pockets. The Shootouts are always fun, kind of like how Wild Street was at World Ford Challenge. The top sixteen at Spring Break Shootout run it out, those are fun and the quickest guy doesn’t always win.”
The debate of street cars will always rage on but based on the NMRA decree—by way of Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords magazine—Tremec True Street is the manner in which we judge street cars. Cal Hayward sits on top of the heap with his record-setting, barrier-breaking 7.73 three-run average.
Owner/Driver: Cal Hayward
Hometown: Battle Creek, MI
Occupation: Lead Installation Rep
Car: 1991 Mustang GT
Class: Tremec True Street
Car Weight: 3,570
Chassis Modification: SFI 25.5
Chassis/Roll-Cage Builder Doug Kline at Precision Chassis
Builder: Baker Engineering
Rods: Oliver Billet
Cylinder Heads: Trick Flow R
Camshafts: Comp Cams
EFI System: ProEFI
Intake: Edelbrock 2828
Power Adder: twin BullsEye Power 80mm
Fuel System: Waterman
Headers/Exhaust: Custom by Cal Hayward
Torque Converter: PTC
Front Suspension: Double AA Performance
Rear Suspension: Racecraft upper arms, Autofab lower arms
Steering: Flaming river
Wheels: Billet Specialties Street Lites
Tires: Mickey Thompson
Brakes: Wilwood front, Baer rear
Crew: Brian Grubius, Steve Olsen, Wild Bill Devine, Errol@TPS, Wife, daughter
Best ET: 7.62
Best MPH: 189.18
Best 60 FT: 1.27
Special Thanks/Sponsors Errol@TPS, Wild Bill Devine at Bullseye Power, TurboSmart, Baker Engineering