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Peeled Banana—JPC Racing’s Famous S197 Goes Naturally Aspirated and renamed Peeled Evil


One of the most iconic late-model Mustangs is the 2011 Mustang GT that belongs to JPC Racing’s Justin Burcham. It was the first 10-second Coyote-powered drag car back when you couldn’t even crack into the ECU. Burcham eventually pushed it into the 8s, and ultimately ran 6.90 at 203 mph with a turbocharged Coyote powerplant under the hood.

The JPC Mustang became known as “The Banana” due to its bright yellow wrap that came through a major sponsorship from AEM Performance Electronics. It helped launch the brand and ECU in the Coyote world. The Mustang has been parked for nearly two years as the shop has launched into the stratosphere, cranking out some of the coolest street cars and NMRA championship-winning racecars. We are happy to report that we “volunteered” Burcham’s car to become an unofficial test mule for Fastest Street Car Magazine/Race Pages Digital. It is a role Burcham and his cars have played before with your author as we pushed the boundary in both the Coyote and 4.6 Three-Valve markets.

Mike Washington, our test pilot and curator of Project Pure Evil, is credited with the ridiculous idea to put the Banana back in service. He took it from a dusty and discarded race legend to nearly running in just six weeks. He delivered the car to JPC Racing two weeks ago for the transmission installation, rear-gear upgrade, and final preparations before it was strapped down to the chassis dyno.

Backing up slightly in the story—a little bench racing over a few beers netted the brilliant idea of stuffing PE1 (Pure Evil’s 2018 race engine) into the Banana, putting an automatic transmission behind it, and letting it roll on a set of Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pro 275 tires. After all, the PE1 bullet has been sitting in the corner since we built Pure Evil’s new engine, dubbed PE2, last winter.

Our PE1 bullet is a simple combination that uses a Shelby GT350 engine block with its big bore, a factory Coyote crankshaft, a set of K1 connecting rods, and custom JE pistons that give the engine roughly 13:1 compression. The cylinder heads are also takeoff GT350 parts and Rich Groh Racing performed a basic multi-angle valve job to help increase flow. The valves are factory and the ports are otherwise untouched. A set of custom COMP camshafts was bolted to the heads as were a set of PAC valvesprings. Topping the engine is a Holley EFI Sniper race intake manifold and throttle body.

Justin Burcham ran 6.90 at 203 mph during the Mod Nationals. We’ve ripped out the turbocharged setup and put a 720hp Naturally Aspirated engine in its place.

We’ve always talked about swapping over to a TH400 and rocking a set of radials; currently, Pure Evil rolls on a set of Mickey Thompson ET Drag 26×10 bias-ply slicks and runs a G-Force G101A for NMRA competition or a G-Force GF5R clutchless five-speed for non-NMRA action. The Banana would be perfect to validate our bench-racing guesstimates as it sports a SFI 25.3 chassis from DMC Racing and has the complete BMR Suspension catalog and Viking double-adjustable shocks, ensuring it is legal, safe, and capable of handling the paltry 720 hp that PE1 produces (ed note: at the flywheel).

Washington took delivery of the Banana shortly after the summer ended and instantly began thrashing to prepare it for a debut during the World Cup Finals at Maryland International Raceway. The colorful wrap was pulled off, the car was devoid of the supporting equipment for the turbocharged combo, and in went PE1 after it was freshened by Rich Groh Racing. Washington also went through the car bumper-to-bumper to ensure all the parts and pieces were ready for action after its long hiatus from racing action.

Backing the engine is a TH400 that was built by Transmission Specialties with an SFI-case, lightened parts and pieces designed for naturally aspirated combinations, and fortified to handle the power. The company also shipped a bolt-together torque converter and three different stators. JPC Racing’s Eric Holliday is handling the tuning chores on the AEM Infinity engine management system and making the chassis and drivetrain tuning calls as well. Burcham is dusting off his race suit and helmet, as he is being pressed back into service to pilot his beloved Mustang once again.

The Banana might be down roughly 1,300 hp from its previous powerplant, but the hope is to run the car right into the 8-second zone this weekend. We are confident as Holliday spun the JPC Racing chassis dyno to 551 rwhp right off the trailer with the automatic transmission and VP Racing Fuels Q16 race fuel.

Our next question, do we call it Peeled Evil or Peeled Banana? See you at the World Cup Finals!

Mike Galimi
Mike Galimi
Mike Galimi is the Director of Content & Marketing at ProMedia Publishing and Events with nearly 20 years of experience in motorsport writing and photography.