As co-owner of Vector Motorsports in Brighton, Michigan, Samantha Moore sure knows her way around a racecar. After years of working on customer projects, though, she decided she wanted to get in on the action herself. Moore purchased her California Special ’14 Ford Mustang in ’15 with every intention of keeping it fairly stock—a thought which, fortunately, didn’t last long.
“I put a supercharger on it immediately,” laughed Moore, who also had a ProCharged ‘10 Camaro SS and originally planned to turn the Chevy into her drag car instead of the Mustang. “I wanted the Mustang to be a normal street car, but it got way out of hand as they always do, and the cars reversed their roles.”
Moore ran some No E.T. and grudge races locally for years before her business partner, Dan Sienkiewicz, suggested she look into class racing with the NMRA/NMCA. She competed in NMRA Roush Performance Super Stang at the 2017 NMRA All-Ford World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and was hooked. “I liked the people and the atmosphere. It was organized and a totally different atmosphere from where I had been racing previously—everyone was so friendly!” she recalled.
Following her full 2018 NMRA Roush Performance Super Stang season, in which she finished ninth in championship points overall for the index category, Moore moved into NMRA JDM Engineering Limited Street for 2019 and 2020.
“I really like heads up racing and Limited Street was a good entry level class,” noted Moore, who finished sixth and third, respectively, in her first two years. “I wanted to still be able to drive my car around town and keep it somewhat streetable.”
Now, Moore is heading in to her third season in NMRA JDM Engineering Limited Street and she has completely overhauled her Mustang to prepare for what will hopefully be her biggest and best year yet.
Previously, the S197 had an 8.50-certified roll cage in it, but Moore strategically planned a 25.3 SFI upgrade to the chassis during the off-season. She ran the car at the Hail Mary Derby event in November of 2020, then dropped the Mustang off at RJ ProFab in Rochester, New York, the second week of December.
“A huge thanks to them for getting it done so quickly,” said Moore. “They did an amazing job and I got the car back the first day of February.”
Towards the end of her 2019 season, Moore’s engine broke it’s crank and she quickly cobbled together a replacement bullet using whatever parts she could fin.
“It wasn’t ideal for the class, so we always ran it on kill trying to compete,” explained Moore, who wound up using the backup bullet throughout the 2020 season as well. “I finally started on a real replacement this winter.”
Moore’s new engine, built entirely in-house at Vector Motorsports, is based around a Gen 1 Coyote engine to take advantage of weight breaks for the class. Upgraded JE Pistons bump up the compression just a touch, while new cams from COMP and a set of Brisk spark plugs should also help in the performance department. Finally, a top-mount Magnuson supercharger from VMP Performance that’s fed through a JLT cold-air intake will add a hefty amount of boost to the stock bore and stroke platform.
While racing at the Hail Mary Derby, the Mustang ran low on fuel and torched its cylinder heads. Wanting to ensure that wouldn’t happen again, Moore installed a full brushless fuel system from Aeromotive with AUS Injection fuel injectors, and then had Slawko Racing clean up the heads before reusing them on the new engine.
“I’m still running my Coan Turbo 400 transmission with a Reid case and Coan converter,” added Moore, who was happy with how the gearbox held up to the abuse of countless laps. She is also keeping her tried-and-true Viking shocks and struts, as well as her complete array of UPR Products suspension components and Strange Engineering 9-inch rear end.
Meanwhile, Moore also made the decision to move away from the Mustang’s standard 12-volt electrical system in favor of a 16-volt one so she can take advantage of TurboStart’s innovative products.
“I’m also running a Holley Dominator EFI system with the 12.3-inch Pro Dash and it’s super nice,” she shared.
Moore’s Mustang has definitely come a long way since she first purchased it, but she couldn’t be happier with how the project panned out. “It used to have a full interior, nav, radio, and everything, but if you want to win, you’ve got to build a racecar,” she professed of the transformation which includes many racecar-esque necessities, including a switch panel and no-key start. “There’s a fuel cell out back, aftermarket steering column, and an electric water pump instead of the stock Coyote unit. We’re also installing a Modern Racing solid state shut-off system, which is cool.”
Although there’s still a lot of work to do to get the S197 prepared for 2021—including finishing up the wiring and fuel systems, as well as completing the engine build—Moore is doing everything she can to make it to the NMRA season opener in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida.
“I’ve been thrashing until late every night with the guys—thanks for all their help! I’ll be happy if I can just drive onto the trailer,” said the hard-working woman of how she and her team refuse to rest. Fully prepared to write off the race as just a glorified test session if she isn’t able to get the car sorted out in prior to the start of the event, come hell or high water she will be prepared by the Atlanta race at the latest. “I finished third in points last year so we’re really trying hard for number one this year, and we have a bunch of nice components so I think we can do it!”