Derry, Pennsylvania’s Keith Rhea has frequently competed in a number of NMRA classes, including QA1 True Street, Terminator vs. GT500 Shootout and the Hellion Turbo Battle, and his Wonder Racing 2004 Mustang Cobra has undergone a number of changes to continually improve the Terminator’s competition-killing ability. His latest switch to Bullseye turbochargers helped him claim the record for the quickest, stock-bodied, modular-powered Mustang after clocking a 6.666 and backing that up with a 6.665 during the 2019 Haltech EFI World Cup Finals: Import vs. Domestic race at Maryland International Raceway.
After realizing he had reached the limits of his previous GT8087 turbochargers, Rhea switched over to larger 88mm units, but had a hard time getting them to spool quickly enough.
“I had been talking with Bill Devine after Shakedown and said that these didn’t work,” Rhea explained. “I can’t get the shaft speed up. What do you have?”
What Bullseye Power’s Bill Devine had was a pair of Bullseye 8396NLX turbos with the NLX compressor wheel. The NLX series turbochargers are constructed with the company’s True Dual Ball Bearing Cartridge with front and rear full angular contact ceramic ball bearings, lightweight billet aluminum center section, and a billet aluminum back plate. Rhea said the turbos are several pounds lighter than the ones they replaced.
While he didn’t get the new hairdryers in time for the NMRA Finals, where Rhea took home the Hellion Turbo Battle class win, he got to work shortly after fabricating new hot and cold side tubing and mounted the new turbos in place.
Despite winning at Beech Bend Raceway, Rhea’s Cobra suffered engine damage due to an oiling issue, so he swapped that engine out for his current powerplant, which is based on a 2011 GT500 block that is topped with stock 4-Valve head castings that have been ported by Fox Lake. MMR billet runners are mated to a custom-built upper plenum that house two sets of Billet Atomizer injectors squirting M1 methanol fuel into the engine—a Winberg crankshaft swings Manley I-beam connecting rods and Wiseco pistons.
Rhea made two attempts to test before the World Cup race, but both sessions were rained out and he was forced to roll into MIR untested. He brought his 88s with him, as he knew he could run 6.80s with them in the Warriors vs. Tres Cuarto category.
Spooling up the turbos in the pits showed promising results and Rhea’s first hit off the trailer was a 6.93.
“We had some valvetrain issues, but rectified that Thursday morning,” Rhea told us. “It then went 6.90, which was a personal best. From there, we looked at the data to try to improve the first half of the track.”
The changes must have been good, as the third pass with the new Bullseye NLX turbochargers was the 6.666 run.
“We tried to swing for a .50, but the track wasn’t there and spun on the hit.” Rhea said. Going back to the 6.66 tuneup for Saturday morning’s qualifying run backed up his previous run as he collected a 6.665 time slip. That run secured him the third spot in qualifying.
In eliminations, Rhea logged a number of low 6.7-second runs and made it to the semi-final round where he eliminated himself by going red against eventual class winner James Smith.
“We’re going to try to go 4.20 to the 1/8-mile and 6.50 out the back this week at the Mod Nationals,” Rhea said excitedly of the event coming up this weekend at South Georgia Motorsports Park.
His Coan Engineering 3-speed, close-ratio Turbo 400 transmission and Quick Performance 9-inch rearend will be up o the task, and from the numbers he has recently ran, it seems the Holley EFI-equipped Modular powerplant will be, too.
“He’s got an amazing product; they’re much more efficient,” Rhea said of his new Bullseye turbos. “I think Bullseye is ahead of the rest in technology. They’re also beautiful pieces and everything is made in house. Bill is a wealth of knowledge and believes in racers being in control of their own programs. I’m going to have them build me a single 88 so I can run Street Outlaw. I want to outrun Vinnie [Palazzolo]! I think Bill has the technology for me to run near the top of the pack, and his service is unmatched.”