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Breaking Barriers—Lifetime Spring Break Shootout competitor Tony Whetstone Hits the 7s


Not many can say that they competed in the very first NMRA Spring Break Shootout, and far fewer can say they have competed in every one of them since the beginning—in fact, we’re pretty sure that Tallahassee, Florida’s Tony Whetstone is the only person that can make that claim. Just a couple of weeks after competing in his 25thSpring Break Shootout, Whetstone set a personal best quarter-mile time of 7.92 seconds in his very familiar, 1988 convertible Fox-Body Mustang.

When Whetstone raced in his first shootout back in 1994, the droptop was considerably slower.

“It was blazingly fast at 13.8 seconds,” joked Whetstone, “and that was with the nitrous!” Whetstone only had the car for a couple of years at that point, but it continued to evolve, going from a nitrous-oxide-enhanced machine to a supercharged combination with a Vortech S-trim blower. The combination was good for 7-second eighth-mile times, 11-second quarter-mile times, and a solid 507 horsepower to the rear wheels on a stock bottom end.

Eventually, Whetstone would switch to a turbocharger for his power adder of choice around 2008.

“A friend bought a B&G Turbo kit, and on a stock engine, it made 430 to the tires and I thought, ‘That was too simple,’” Whetstone noted. After swapping out the supercharger for a new B&G single-turbo kit with the company’s 70mm turbocharger, Whetstone clicked off a 6.99 on his first eighth-mile test hit, but his mph increased substantially from 98 to 106!

“I put a Precision Turbo 7675 on the 302 and it made 631 rwhp. I never ran it at that level, and went to the Boss Block when I saw those power numbers.”

Said Boss block was poked and stroked to 331 cubic inches and equipped with Trick Flow Twisted Wedge cylinder heads. The first race for the new combination would be the 2009 Spring Break Shootout.

“At that event, I ran 141 mph in the quarter-mile and thought I was hauling butt,” Whetstone quipped.

Continually refining the turbo combination, Whetstone changed the cylinder heads twice and the turbo a couple of times. The car had been running 8.30s with a larger 80mm Borg Warner S400 turbo, but the cylinders got a little hot in 2017. Since he was in need of changing out some pistons, Whetstone decided to open up the engine to 348 cubic inches. While he was at it, he changed out the 80mm turbo for a Borg Warner 91mm S491/100 from Forced Inductions.

Getting that combination to be happy required a little cylinder head work.  “I had a local machine shop open up the combustion chambers and drop the compression ratio, which allowed more boost.”

Combating the increased intake air temperatures from 20-plus pounds of boost is a Fathouse Fabrications air-to-air intercooler, which Whetstone runs for simplicity.

“Running E85, it’s not as critical to get the air temps down. It would probably make more power with an air-to-water, but I didn’t think it was worth the hassle. There are other guys that run that, but by their third pass, they have nothing but water left in the tank and they’re hitting 200-degree air temps anyway. Keeping the boost under 30 psi, the hottest I’ve seen in 160.

Something else that Whetstone chooses to run but few others do is his AOD four-speed automatic transmission.

“When I bought the car, everyone was switching to carburetors and C4s. I just stayed with the EFI and the AOD, and it turned into ‘Let’s see how far I can push them.’” And push he has, “The valve body is from ’99, so it’s been used a bit.”

During the 2019 Nitto Tire NMRA Spring Break Shootout’s QA1 True Street competition at Bradenton Motorsports Park, Whetstone ran a personal best on his third of three passes, clocking an 8.05 at 175. Things were looking good for the Florida native, but his trusty AOD suffered some internal damage during the JLT Performance Spring Break Shootout competition the next day.

“The last pass against Jeff, it blew out the direct drive clutches. It could be from pedaling it or from not enough pressure from the valve body, but I had to have it rebuilt after the SBSO.”

Despite exiting the competition early, Whetstone kept his record of running in all of them intact, and had the transmission rebuilt in short order so he could get a few more passes in before the south began to heat up again.

Exactly 10 years to the date of Whetstone running 141 mph in the quarter-mile, he eclipsed that mark by running 141 mph to the eighth-mile, and collected his first 7-second time slip after stopping the clocks in 7.92 seconds with a speed of 177 mph during a test session at South Georgia Motorsports Park.

“I normally run 26-28 pounds of boost, and to run the 7, I had to power my way to it and cranked the boost up to 33,” Whetstone recalled. “We’ve had a problem with it wanting to wheelie or wanting to spin when leaving at 9-10 psi. I knew I could run a 7 just by improving the 60ft, so I left at 5 psi at 4,300 rpm, ramped it in, and went 1.28 to the 60-ft.”

Since hitting the 7s, Whetstone told he us he’s been thinking about changing transmissions, but that’s not the only change that’s coming. Whetstone informed us that he and his good friend, Danny Nestor, have picked up a ‘90 coupe body and plan to swap the drivetrain from the convertible into it, dropping around 500 lbs. in curb weight in the process while building a more capable 25.3 or 25.5 chassis.

“We’re putting a Coyote into my son’s Mustang and the convertible will get a coyote swap, too, and a turbo, but I’m more focused on what I’m going to do with the coupe.”