By Steve Turner
Photography by Steve Turner and courtesy of BL Fabrication
Whoosh. A red Mustang streaks by. The unmistakable sound of a blow-off valve exhales as the throttle lifts. Upon closer inspection, this is no ordinary pony car, it is a 2013 Boss 302. A special stallion engineered by Ford to carve up road courses across the then nation, the Boss is bred for speed, but this one’s DNA is altered. It is a street/strip stallion that carries the moniker, Boss Lady.
“It is my wife’s car. That’s why we named it ’Boss Lady,’ because Kristen is the boss. She’s definitely the boss, so that’s why we named their car Boss Lady and matches her,” Sai Li, of Li Tuning and Racing, said. “She will be driving it on the track too. So I’m obviously, she has not made any passes with the car yet, but I will be grooming her to be the Boss Lady. I think she’ll do really well.”
Sai and his wife Kristen work together at Li Tuning and Racing, but this is a relatively new business spawned from Sai and his quest for a calibration for his own car that checked all the boxes. He wanted impeccable driveability and maximum performance and couldn’t quite find both. Following the old adage, he decided that to do it right, he had to do it himself.
Eventually that led to him selling his services to other enthusiasts in need of tuning. He was doing this on the side will working a Vice President in the banking industry. He helped other people get loans to start their business dreams, and eventually he took the bold leap to start his own business and leave the corporate banking world behind.
Li Tuning and Racing quickly expanded from offering performance calibrations to selling a wide variety of hardware ranging from complete fuel system upgrades for modern Mustangs to built Coyote short-blocks for those wanting to push those same Mustangs into the performance stratosphere. The short-blocks are the result of a partnership with Fast Forward Race Engines, which fortified the engine in Boss Lady and is the first example of a successful partnership forged by Li Tuning and Racing.
“The red car is the prototype for the S197. The red car was a great test bed for the product because it has our sleeved engine in it,” Sai said. “We were able to push it really, really far. So far within our first dyno session, we’ve made 1,370 spinning the tires on the dyno, so I’m guessing it’s probably close to the 1,400 mark.”
Sai learned the value of partnerships in the business-banking world. As a result, he tries to forge strategic alliances in the performance world to further his goals for the company and bring better products to his customers. The most recent of those started under the hood of Boss Lady, which served as the test mule for a new line of turbocharger systems for Mustangs from BL Fabrications, a sister company of both Li Tuning and Racing and Billet Pro Shop.
“…I built another partnership. I couldn’t do any of this without a team,” Sai said. “We can all try and do everything ourselves or we can choose a winning team is what the way I look at it. I treat my business a lot like a corporate world. I choose the right partners for the right things, so that’s the way I do things.”
“I was in favor of using the Boss to be a test mule for the turbo development since this will only help our current and future customers have the best product possible,” Kristen added. “It is something that we feel strongly about, that if we do not want to use it on our cars we do not want to offer it to our customers.”
The result is a new series of turbo systems for 2011 and new Mustangs that features powedercoated, mandrel-bent, 6061-T6 Aluminum cold-side piping; ceramic-coated, mandrel-bent, T304 Stainless Steel hot-side piping, two TurboSmart 40mm Wastegates, a Turbosmart Raceport BOV, a 6-inch-thick Treadstone intercooler, and a 4-inch downpipe. It is rounded out with all the necessary installation gear, including a new radiator shroud and fan. It is also ready to grow should the customer want to push deeper into the four-digit range.
“We built this system like it was our own, with the largest possible intercooler and a T6 turbo frame offering multiple sizes for the customer to choose from; not to mention our forward-facing headers,” Mat Brunette of BL Fabrications and Billet Pro Shop said. “No upgrades are needed to push it in the 1,600-rear-wheel-horsepower range, besides a built motor, of course!”
“We chose a Borg-Warner. It’s more of an OEM application and it would give it an OE lifespan. So, that’s what we were looking for,” Sai added. “We were looking for better components. There are many turbo companies out but we chose to stay within the Garrett and Borg-Warner platform because of being at an OEM provider. So the OE quality is our thing. We want to make sure that it’s something that’s going to be reliable for the person and they can put many, many miles on it without having to worry about anything.”
The only thing you really have to worry about with this setup is the power available under that right pedal. It’s something you will have to adapt to, and it’s something Kristen is still sneaking up on before she takes to next step and races the car.
“At this moment I am still trying to get used to the horsepower the car has but I am enjoying the process of working my way up to eventually driving it at 1,400 horsepower,” she said. “It is very important to respect a car of this caliber and I don’t take that responsibility lightly.”
“I am very excited to race the car at a national level,” Kristen added. “I hope to get wins under my belt but I am happy just to be racing. Ultimately, I just want to have fun and represent the abilities of the products that we offer as a company.”
Boss Lady is certainly a fine representative of the company’s efforts, as its clean, street/strip stance sets the theme for the fastidious layout of the turbo system underhood. That it is supported by the Li Tuning and Racing fuel system and calibration shows just how complementary the companies’ efforts are. However, the Boss is just he beginning the real push is into the Coyote-powered S550s, which is where the new kits will soon fit in.
“The S197 platform was our last platform that we wanted to bring in because there’s already stuff on the market for them,” Sai said. “So we wanted to do the immediate thing to the newer platform right away and then the S197 is coming around the end of the year,” Sai said. “Then we’re also focusing on the F-150 platform for next year. Then obviously we’ll move down the road based on priority.”
As we wrote this, the 2015-2020 systems were available for preorder starting at $7,500 before options, and they were expected to arrive in customer hands in August of 2019.
“Having tested and tuned this system on our 2018 Mustang GT, we were able to fine-tune the calibration and test the fuel system upgrades,” Mat added. “No matter how much power the customer wants, we have everything they need to reach their goals.”
So stay tuned for big things from BL Fabrication in the future, but if you see a lady driving buy in a red Mustang and hear the whoosh of a wastegate, don’t sleep on it. Kristin Li will show you who is boss, and then tell you where you can order a kit of your own.
Owner/Driver: Kristen Li
Hometown: Largo, Florida
Occupation: Li Racing and Tuning
Crew: Sai Li
Car Make/Model/Year: 2013 Boss 302
Engine: Sleeved 5.0-liter aluminum
Engine Builder: Fast Forward Race Engines/Li Tuning
Displacement: 302 ci
Crank: Ford Boss 302 forged
Rods: Manley I-beam
Pistons: Custom Diamond forged
Heads: Ford Boss 302
Valvetrain: Ford Boss 302
Cam Type: Ford Boss 302
EFI System: Sequential
Power-Adder: BL Fabrications turbo system with 88mm turbo upgrade
Fuel Brand and Type: VP X98
Headers and Exhaust: BL Fabrications turbo system
Transmission Builder: PTC
Clutch/Shifter/Torque Converter: PTC
Rearend: Ford 8.8-inch
Body and/or Chassis Builder: Ford
Suspension (Front): UPR Products K-member, Team Z A-arms, Viking struts
Suspension (Rear): Team Z Anti Roll Bar, Team Z Lower Control Arm Relocation Brackets, UPR Lower Control Arms, UPR Upper Control Arm, Viking Rear Shocks, and Billet Pro Shop Rear Coil Overs
Brakes (Front): Strange Engineering
Brakes (Rear): Strange Engineering
Wheels (Front): RC Components
Wheels (Rear): RC Components
Tires (Front): M&H
Tires (Rear): Mickey Thompson ET Street
Vehicle Weight: 3,650 pounds
Quickest ET: n/a
Best 60-Foot: n/a
Fastest MPH: n/a
Sponsors: Li Tuning and Performance and BL Fabrications[/ap_tagline_box]