Tank racing is only cool if you’re racing actual tanks. For 2018 NMRA Steeda Limited Street champion Michael Ciborowski, he knew he needed something lighter if he wanted to go faster—so he made it happen and commissioned a near-clone of his current car.
Running—and winning—in the inaugural NMRA Limited Street season with his red ‘14 Mustang GT, the “Team Kubota” captain quickly proved he was the top player in the pack. He’s leading the points race for the 2019 season as well, but decided long ago that he wanted to move up to NMRA ProCharger Modified Street instead and knew his best option would be to build a whole new car.
“My car weighs 3,800 pounds and to get it down to weight for Modified Street, I would have to cut out the cage and I really don’t want to do that,” explained Ciborowski, who found a V6 automatic ’14 model for sale on eBay late last summer. The new ’14 had been wrecked (and repaired) in the front, so it came with a rebuilt title, but Ciborowski didn’t care. He was just happy that it was the same color, had a black interior, a VIN, and got him 30 miles per gallon when he drove it home to Illinois from its previous home in Texas.
Jerry Haas Race Cars in Fenton, Missouri, handled converting the street car into a race car with an SFI 25.3 certified roll cage, which Ciborowski is painting himself. Minimal wiring—which will be handled over the winter by Ciborowski’s son and crew chief, Keith, who also races in NMRA Edelbrock Renegade—will aid in making the purpose-built Mustang easier to work on and more user-friendly while removing a few mounds of excess materials.
Now with the new car having been stripped and gutted, getting the chassis down to 3,100 pounds will be a much easier process than if he had tried the same on his current car.
“VMP is sponsoring me with a new blower and Justin Starkey is really excited about seeing how the 2.65L Gen 3R blower will work in Modified Street, so we’re going to push it,” Ciborowski noted of the specific blower he plans to use that will also entitle him to a substantial weight break.
Ciborowski plans to use his championship-winning setup in the new car, as the engine, transmission, and rear end from his current car will be swapped over.
“We’ll do some upgrades to the cylinder heads and put in different cams over the winter, add some forward-facing headers and a motor plate, and [engine builder] Rich [Groh of RGR Racing Engines] has a few tricks up his sleeve that he wants to try,” shared Ciborowski, who lets the brain trust of his son and JPC Racing’s Eric Holliday call the shots on tuning the Holley Dominator EFI-controlled Coyote combination that will soon run on VP Racing Q16 fuel.
Similarly, the Proformance Racing Transmissions-built TH400 will receive attention from Holliday, as different stators in the Transmission Specialties torque converter will need trial and error to find one that keeps the car the most consistent.
Currently, Ciborowski is running Menscer Motorsports coilovers in the front and Viking shocks in the rear.
“I have the Menscers for the rear, too, but was trying to calm down the wheelies and instead of changing everything all at once, I did the fronts first so we wouldn’t be chasing shock settings,” he noted of the strategic decision for the time being. “But the new car will have all the Menscer stuff on it, which I got from Tony Hobson when he took them off his car.”
All of Ciborowski’s current partners will stay on board for the new car’s new season, including his friends at HPJ Performance who have been instrumental in ensuring his success with tons of trackside support, dyno time, and whatever else Ciborowski needs to stay at the head of the field.
Overall, the new Mustang will be a tribute to Ciborowski’s old one, an homage that will appear nearly identical except for the addition of an MMR drag wing and a few minor details. It’s so similar, in fact, that he is even swapping over the Optic Armor windows from old to new as well.
“The old car treated me well, I just didn’t want to cut it up. So, it will be for sale as a roller after the World Cup Finals race this November,” added Ciborowski of his plans to part with his proven pony car. At the WCF event, he’ll be running with the new VMP Gen 3R blower just to see how fast the ol’ girl can go, then it’s full speed ahead for the new car in the 2020 NMRA ProCharger Modified Street season starting with the 26th Annual NMRA Spring Break Shootout at Florida’s Bradenton Motorsports Park in March.