After setting the record for the quickest H-pattern manually-shifted and Coyote-powered Mustang in the world in September of 2020 with a 7.86-second quarter-mile at 174mph blast in his S197 Ford Mustang, Joel Steele has shaved nearly a full second off his record while racing at the FL2K21 event at Florida’s Bradenton Motorsports Park on October 10, 2021.
Steele’s old record was set at his home track of Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, but he took a trip to the Sunshine State for his subsequent record—and made good use of a ton of changes that took place in between the outings.
He brought his Gen 1 Coyote engine to Kevin Mullins at TKM Performance after the 2020 FL2K race for some upgrades but wound up selling it—and then buying it back—as he had TKM begin assembly of a billet engine instead, but has been waiting on the heads before it can be finished.
“Then I changed the car from a three-link to a four-link in the rear. I took all the water out of the motor, even though the block and heads aren’t filled, so it went from a street car to a racecar,” noted Steele of the 25.3 SFI certified, dual-frame-rail chassis from Xiled Drag Cars in Scottsville, Kentucky. He also switched his Mustang over to run on methanol and changed out his intercooler-integrated intake manifold in favor of a high-end unit from Plazmaman Racing. “I’m also running Jose [Zayas] from Forced Induction’s 7684 twin turbos with TurboSmart wastegates and blow-off valves.”
The TKM-assembled engine itself is a surprisingly simple setup, consisting of the Gen 1 block and Gen 1 heads ported and polished by Frankenstein Engine Dynamics. All of the fuel, oil, and fluids in the car are from Renegade, including in the transmission and rearend.
It’s the TREMEC T56 transmission built by Tick Performance with its PPG gearset, billet twin 8-inch clutch from Rob Youngblood at Advanced Clutches, Frazier’s Fabrication & Performance (FFP) custom pedals, the same MGW shifter that Steele put in back in 2014, Moser rear end, and a Fab9 reared housing however, that really make the Coyote’s performance shine.
Knowing he had big performance goals to make good on, Steele headed to Tennessee’s Crossville Dragway for some testing.
“I broke a tie rod and almost put it into the wall,” he shared of the incident that prompted a few more changes. “We found some impingement issues and helped the car go from separating a little to separating a lot.”
When FL2K21 rolled around, Steele knew he had to get some more testing in, but his car wouldn’t even roll off the trailer as the broken tie rod had also damaged the axle spindle. A quick fix thanks to a strong-armed pipe to bend it back, borrowed from none other than Garrett Mitchell aka Cleetus McFarland, and Steele was back up and running.
Testing on Wednesday resulted in him spinning the tires, but an adjustment to the Afterworks-massaged Santhuff shocks and struts produced a 7.5-second run with a 7.30-second follow-up. Steele sat out on Thursday as the roll race portion of the event took place that day, but made huge progress when Outlaw Stick Shift qualifying began.
“The first session I went 7.2-something, which was a new personal best and the new Mustang/Coyote record, then I ran 7.16 at 201.01 mph in Q2,” Steele explained of how he wanted to secure the number-one spot for the ladder pairings.
Watching Joel Grannas was hot on his heels and inspired Steele to turn the wick up even further. He called his tuner, Jonathan Atkins of Tick Performance, who was managing his Mustang’s Holley EFI system remotely, and they agreed to run fairly low timing and low boost. On “only” 37 psi, Steele was able to click off an incredible 6.98 at 193.35mph pass to make his mark in the history books as the first domestic H-pattern stick-shifted car in the 6-second zone.
“It actually shut off around the 6.1-second mark of that run, because it wheelied and I was fighting it and it wound up spinning at the big end and went through the soft cut and then the hard cut,” Steele clarified, making his run even more impressive.
Unfortunately, a perplexing situation arose during the first elimination round. Although his car never moved, Steele’s lane showed a red light and McFarland in the other lane was defaulted the win, even though Steele had him covered by over a second. After much review and discussion (perhaps it was the Mustang’s massive header flames, a wayward rag, or a thousand other theories on what could have triggered it) the foul was not reversed, which meant he was out of the running for the race itself—but not the record.
Steele was granted permission to make an exhibition pass as part of a friendly grudge race with Brett LaSala. There, Steele lowered the record even further to 6.956 at 202.00 mph, with a 60-foot time of 1.130-seconds and at a weight of 2,750-pounds.
Once again, the data showed there’s plenty of performance still on tap for Steele’s Mustang, as a loss of boost pressure towards the top end gave the driver the confirmation that the S197 is capable much more. He’s planning to unleash the rest at the upcoming World Cup Finals: Import vs Domestic and Mod Motor Nationals events, where he will surely shatter his own stick shift record yet again.
For more information on Steele’s accomplishment, check out @StickShiftTheWorld on Facebook and Instagram.