Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Photography by the Author and Courtesy of Jamie Miller
It’s always tough parting with a favorite anything. When Ken Quartuccio let go of his ’69 Camaro, he quickly quelled his buyer’s remorse with a big dose of retail therapy, and bought a new Pro Mod ’67 Ford Mustang as a replacement.
In January of 2020, prior to the US Street Nationals race, Quartuccio was out riding dirt bikes motocross-style in New England with his buddies, including tuner Jamie Miller. Quartuccio wrecked and landed on a sharp rock; he didn’t seem too badly hurt at first, but wound up worse than expected and had to make a trip to the hospital that evening where a lacerated kidney and a significant amount of internal bleeding was discovered.
Although he was expected to make a full recovery, the big scare shook up the Quartuccio family. Knowing he would be sitting out for a while, Quartuccio hastily sold his beautiful ’69 Camaro.
“He realized he shouldn’t have sold it and wanted a car again, so we went on a mad hunt to see what was available,” laughed Miller, who has been a trusted member of Quartuccio’s inner circle for years.
A new car was acquired by mid-February; a Pro Modified ’67 Ford Mustang previously belonging to a high-profile NHRA racer. Quartuccio purchased it as a roller, and the guys got to work running through a lengthy To-Do list.
First, Quartuccio had Pro Line Racing quickly put together a powerful, raised-cam Hemi engine to run on a FuelTech FT600 engine management system. Although a set of 94mm Precision turbochargers were on board at first (to be changed to 88mm for future Pro Mod use), Mark “Woody” Woodruff had volunteered a pair of loaner 102mm turbochargers to use in Radial vs the World, while Turbosmart wastegates and blow-off valves were installed.
Mark Menscer worked with Miller to develop some new small-tire shock technology, and the resulting Menscer/Miller mash-up 4-way-adjustable rear shocks for Pro Mod-style cars on radials were installed for testing and further refinement. A Carmack Engineering reared center section was added out back, and the Mustang was sitting pretty—literally.
Next, the Mustang made its way down to Georgia where Ryan Rakestraw at RK Racecraft went through the chassis from front to back. Rakestraw installed the engine and whatever else remained using piping, fittings, general miscellany from Race Part Solutions. Rakestraw also handled a wiring change and a swap to an M&M Transmission three-speed lock-up transmission and lock-up torque converter with matching M&M shifter so that Quartuccio could have a “turn key” finished product.
Miller joined Rakestraw in the process, and the two worked together to transform the former big-tire beast into a radial-ready rocket.
“The ultimate goal was to have it ready to race in Radial vs the World trim in time for Sweet 16 in March,” Miller explained of the race at South Georgia Motorsports Park that ultimately was postponed due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
Instead, Miller went down to Orlando Speed World Dragway in Florida with his son, John, engine expert Tim Davis, and crew man Gary Gonzalez.
“Ken was busy with work and couldn’t make it out to test, so we just spooled it and bumped it in and made sure it was one-hundred percent ready for him,” noted Miller of the change of plans. “With Donald Long’s race canceled, we converted the car back over to big tire to prep for the PDRA opener, but that got canceled, too.”
With the excitement of the season’s start abruptly halted, Quartuccio’s car traveled back north to Miller’s home-based shop in Connecticut to await its fate instead. The Mustang sat on slicks in limbo, completely dependent on how the Coronavirus shutdowns played out.
Work didn’t completely stop, though. New PLR Hemi engines are sold with Magnatron Racing Products intake manifolds, but Quartuccio wasn’t able to get one in time at first and a pinch hitter was needed instead.
“This car had previously been run with an older style NHRA-type intake. We borrowed one from Khalid alBalooshi to make the race and then were going to give it back and make the change… so, I fitted it for the Magnatron and did all new piping,” said Miller of the work he leisurely enjoyed during the ‘Rona offseason.
Interestingly, it’s wasn’t only Quartuccio’s Mustang that was at the Miller residence, but also his daughter Kaitlin’s Chevy II. Originally built by Skinny Kid Race Cars, a completely tubed front end and Mustang II-style front suspension complement the Chevy while future plans include a carbureted LS-based GM crate engine with a nitrous kit and MSD coil-on-plug ignition.
“I just did some fab work on that, and some odds and ends,” Miller explained of the four-link style car that will now runs on 275 radial tires and use an M&M Transmission and converter, 9-inch rearend, and Menscer rear shocks with AFCOs in the front. “His son, Ken, has shown an interest in driving it, so they’ll probably run some Nutty Money small-tire no prep events up here at a local municipal airport, and maybe some 8.50 index racing.”
Now that he’s fully recovered from his injuries thanks to the love and support of his wife, Denise, who is a huge part of his racing program, Quartuccio has finally stepped back into racing and put the first few laps on his beautiful new Mustang.
Most recently, at Donald Long’s Sweet 16 3.0 race at South Georgia Motorsports Park in early October of 2020, Quartuccio qualified seventh in Radial vs the World but went out to overall event winner J.R. Gray in round two of eliminations. The following weekend, he was back at it for No Mercy 11 also at SGMP, and this time qualified fourth in RVW with a 3.567 at 216.10mph blast. Two elimination round wins went to Quartuccio, but he wasn’t able to make a pass in round three and bowed out instead.
Currently, Quartuccio plans to do double duty by campaigning the Mustang on Mickey Thompson tires at Radial vs the World races and in Pro Mod trim at select NMCA, PDRA, and NEOPMA events. In the interim, at least he’s got plenty of projects to keep him busy.