Longtime NMRA Edelbrock Renegade/NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street racer and all-around good guy, Curtis Catalon, had a hiccup in late 2018 but is busy turning lemons into lemonade with an all-new killer combination for his much-awaited return.
Living in Louisiana, Catalon made the long haul up to Maryland for the World Cup Finals: Import vs Domestic event in early November. Unfortunately for him, the weekend came to a quick halt. “I blew a head gasket and destroyed the block,” stated Catalon of how severely his ’03 Ford Mustang Cobra’s Rich Groh Racing-built 4.6 L engine had been hurt. “I’ve been outgunned for a while now and want to get to the top.”
Back home, a plan quickly came together. Catalon has been partnered with Daniel and Craig Pachar of Texas’s Triangle Speed Shop for years, and the brothers also manage NMRA Edelbrock Renegade driver Domenic DiDonato’s combination. As DiDonato has been having so much success lately – including a win this past weekend at the 19th Annual NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway – Catalon decided he would follow his friend’s lead.
Through a friend, Catalon purchased a 5.4 liter-based Modular engine and turbo kit from an undisclosed racer who had been at the forefront of Mod motor technology. “It’s very similar to Dom [DiDonato]’s although it’s actually now a 5.8 liter with a dry sump and has a Hogan’s intake manifold,” explained Catalon, who is sticking with his single 76mm Precision turbocharger for the new bullet’s boost.
Despite the different engine, Catalon will continue to use his usual Circle D torque converter and Powerglide gearbox from Proformance Racing Transmissions, although the gearset has been changed to accommodate the additional torque the combination will now be making.
Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and DiDonato has no qualms about sharing his successful setup with Catalon. As Triangle tunes both the men’s cars, they often split expenses to have the Pachars at the races with them, and DiDonato’s company, C&D Autotech, even sponsors Catalon. It’s a solidly synergistic relationship that has served all parties well.
While the car was in for updates, Catalon and crew also decided to overhaul the decade-plus old wiring. “It really was overdue,” Catalon noted of the Cobra’s conversion which consisted of the removal of his Big Stuff 3 engine management system in favor of EFI from Holley, and a new Speedwire system. “Dom uses the Holley, and Craig [Pachar] is real comfortable tuning with it, too.”
Additionally, Wizard Racecars redid the front half of the car to a tubular front clip so as to accommodate the expanded engine. Motor City Solutions supplied the new front bumper cover, and Catalon’s friend, Chris Huesers, will be handling the paint and body finishing touches once everything is buttoned up in a few days.
“It’s a whole new setup, almost like starting all over again,” stated Catalon, who had initially hoped to have his revised Renegade ride ready in time for the NMRA Pennsylvania race, but had to sit it out. “Hopefully it’ll be ready in time for the [NMRA/NMCA] Super Bowl in Joliet, but I’ll need lots of testing first!”
Judging from DiDonato’s recent success, and the Pachar brothers’ respectable history, it seems odds are in favor for Catalon’s luck to finally turn favorable.