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Managing Heat in a 7-Second Street Car—We raid the DEI catalog to keep under-hood temps under control for True Street & Beyond

Posted By: Steve Baur
Written By Michael Galimi
Photography by the Author

We all know heat can be an enemy on both the drag strip and on the street, especially when you are rolling down the road in a street car that competes in NMRA/NMCA True Street and Drag & Drive events. We recently flipped through the Design Engineering (DEI) catalog looking for products to protect and manage heat in a turbocharged application. Our test subject is Mike Jovanis’ 12-time True Street winning car, a 1,700hp 1989 Mustang LX that currently runs 7.50s at 180+ mph. 

Over the years we’ve followed along as Jovanis has revealed several heat management tricks ranging from his engine’s cooling system to the trick Meziere transmission pan and its integrated heat exchanger. The latter helps keep Jovanis’ Hughes Performance Powerglide transmission fluid temps under control during the trio of back-to-back passes in True Street and it has proven to be an invaluable tool during Hot Rod Magazine’s Drag Week competitions. This time we were back in his garage with a pile of boxes from DEI as he jumps into the 2022 race season. 
To back up for just a moment, Jovanis took off most of the 2021 season to convert from the 302-based setup that served him well for many years, to a larger 351 Windsor-based combination using a Dart Iron Eagle 9.5-inch deck block. The previous powerplant checked in at 349ci, while the new one is significantly larger with 423ci of displacement. This is made possible thanks to the taller deck height verses the 8.2-inch deck on the 302, which allows a longer stroke on the crankshaft. DiSomma Racing Engines is responsible—once again—for the engine package, which also includes custom Diamond pistons, Callies Magnum crankshaft, and Callies billet steel connecting rods. The Trick Flow High Port 250 cylinder heads feature HIP processing for additional strength and durability. Jovanis continues to employ the Trick Flow Box R intake and it is mated to a new lower that fits the taller deck height. Total Engine Airflow performed a gasket match on the new lower.

The top of Jovanis’ list for DEI is the company’s two-inch-wide, Titanium Exhaust Wrap that is installed on the crossover and exhaust dump pipes. We ordered 100 feet of wrap and while that sounds excessive, every bit of it was used to wrap the crossover pipe and dump tube.  

Another major change to the car was the addition of a mid-and-front engine plate system to secure the powerful small-block to the frame rails, ensuring less engine twist and allowing more power to be transferred rearward. Those major changes forced him to get a completely new turbo kit and cross-over setup for the Garrett GT5533R Gen 2 turbocharger. As the engine compartment got more crowded, Jovanis began to realize how close critical wires, sensors, and other engine components were to the hot-side pipes. Enter DEI, which provided products to help wrap the crossover turbo pipe, protect wires and sensors of the Haltech Nexus R5 engine management system, as well as the ignition wires that are routed to individual coils.
The installation of DEI’s products was straightforward and it took just one night in the garage with a few helping hands to accomplish the project. The lure of beer, chicken wings, and good music convinced Scott Triolo and Tom Van Tassel to join the party and help get the car buttoned up for its debut at the NMRA Spring Break Shootout at Bradenton Motorsports Park. 

Using a zip-tie is an easy trick to temporarily keep the exhaust wrap organized when you begin the process.

Van Tassel used DEI wrap on the exhaust for his supercharged Fox Mustang, so he was tasked with wrapping the crossover pipe. We ordered two-inch wide Titanium Exhaust Wrap and got a 100-foot roll. That sounds like a lot, but we found it to be the right amount for the project. It was a two-person job, as Jovanis held the material roll so Van Tassel could keep the wrap tight. He used a zip-tie at each starting point to ensure an organized and clean process and Van Tassel carefully kept the overlap to the recommended limit in the DEI instructions. Once the wrapping was complete, DEI’s Stainless Steel Positive Locking Ties were used secured the ends and the plastic ties were removed.
Meanwhile, Triolo jumped on removing all of the custom spark plug wires and slipped on the DEI numbered wire marker sleeves ensuring there won’t be any confusion when a crewmember changes the spark plugs. The plug wires were put back in place with eight-inch Titanium Protect-A-Boot sleeves. The sleeves are an integral part to almost any turbo application and the wires definitely need the added protection with the new larger primary header tubes.

We found the wrapping process to be easier when two people work together.

One last major piece to the puzzle is the Fire Wrap 3000 and we selected the 1.5-inch-diameter version that is 24 inches long. We trimmed it down to fit a group of wires that run up the frame rail and are dangerously close to the side-exhaust dump tube. The massive dump pipe is coated with Swain White Lightning Coating, further helping heat protection and adding durability.
The first test with the new engine combination and added heat protection was instantly realized with Jovanis taking home his 12th TorqStorm Superchargers True Street victory and capturing the class win in the BBK Performance Spring Break Shootout. 

DEI recommends keeping the wrap tight and keeping the overlap to roughly 1/4-inch. 

Jovanis shared a post-race analysis of the car’s performance, “Despite adding significantly more cubic inches and facing extremely warm weather, the car ran great with a True Street average of 7.89 and then we won Sunday’s shootout.” The Fox Mustang ran as quick as 7.71 in the middle run of the True Street competition, which doesn’t allow the hood to be opened or external cooling between the three runs on the track. On Sunday the car was equally impressive by opening the day with a pair of 7.73s before going 7.68 and 7.63 and earning a trip to the NMRA Winner’s Circle.
The DEI products are high quality and provide assurance to Jovanis that critical electronic components and the performance of his vehicle are optimized as he puts street miles on his Mustang and then comes back to the track to knock down a trio of passes. 

Once the wrap is installed, we used DEI Stainless Steel Positive Locking Ties to hold it in place. The 12mm x 14-inch ties fit the crossover and collector areas—which are roughly 3-inch diameter pipes—while the 7mm x 20-inch ties are the right fit for the 5-inch dump pipe. 

The downpipe was also wrapped, as it runs close to various wiring that is run on the side of the front frame-rails. The end of the pipe was coated with DEI Hi-Temp Silicone Coating Spray so the white Swain coating isn’t visible on the outside. 

The new headers are swept down and forward to clear the new motor plate and Jovanis opted to keep them in the bare Swain Coatings finish. 

Titanium Protect-A-Boot 8-inch sleeves protect the spark plug wires, as they are routed between the primary header tubes. We also used the ignition wire numbers that get shrink wrapped on to the plug wires.

One of the most impressive wraps we’ve ever worked with is the Fire Wrap 3000 and it came from DEI with a 1.5-inch inside diameter and in a 24-inch length. Jovanis cut the length down to fit the section of wires and protect it from the downpipe and the exhaust side of the Garrett turbocharger. The turbo mount can be seen on the tubular frame section. 

You can see the close proximity of everything with the turbo mounted and without the dump pipe installed. 

In addition to the exhaust down pipe being wrapped, a Titanium Turbo Shield/Blanket Gen-3 T6 cover was utilized. DEI offers a measuring technique on its website and the recommended size fit perfectly on the TiAL GT55 turbine housing. 

A bottle of Radiator Relief was added to the aluminum Ron Davis radiator, as it is a way to treat cooling systems without electrolytic and chemical corrosion and reduce water temperature by helping transfer heat efficiently to the radiator core. It is compatible with cast iron, copper, brass, and aluminum materials and can be mixed with water or antifreeze. 

Jovanis ordered a number of other products from the DEI catalog that have proven to be valuable on and off the drag strip. Shown here is the large-sized Oil Rug because everyone knows that these cars are not OEM-like and due sometimes leak fluids. This helps keep the trailer and garage floors clean. Not shown in the article, but helpful, are the Safety Sleeves that allow the crew to work under the hood immediately after a pass or extensive street driving. At roughly $35 for a pair, the sleeves are worth keeping in the toolbox.

Here is a fresh shot of the Jovanis engine compartment with the new DEI goodies in place and ready for NMRA action. 

The Jovanis crew was successful in its first outing with the new engine package and the DEI products helped keep the car running smooth and consistent.  

Design Engineering (DEI)

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