Photography by Kevin DiOssi and Dr. Rudy Rouweyha
They say the devil is in the details, and judging by Brian “Iceman” Devilbiss’s beautiful ’13 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, the phrase could not be more appropriate. His car, hailed as “The Devil’s Reject” has undergone an incredible transformation and the rebirth of Devilbiss’s ride is sure to rain fire and brimstone onto anyone who dares challenge the beast.
Devilbiss himself is no newcomer to the scene, as he has proudly racked up nearly three decades of racing experience, competing everywhere from drag racing to dirt track and oval racing, demo derby to snowmobile ice and grass drags, and everything in between. His expertise as a driver has served him well over the years, and the newest iteration of his ’13 Shelby will surely shine in his capable hands.
Based out of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Devilbiss spends his days putting in long hours at his welding and fabrication business, Devilbiss Enterprises. To kick back, he goes racing with his lovely crew chief, and fellow racer, Michelle.
At first, his street-legal and street-driven, turbocharged ’13 Shelby was simply something fun to push the limits with, and push he did as he had the first ’13 Shelby GT500 to run in the 10s, 9s, and 8s. In 2013, after collaborating with Evolution Performance and Lund Racing, Devilbiss’s car became the first 2007-2014 Shelby GT500 to run an 8-second pass with a stock 6-speed manual transmission when he clicked off an 8.94 at 159mph pass in the quarter mile. The following year, in September of 2014, the Shelby earned its “Devil’s Reject” nickname. Posting up a 7.88 at 178mph hit marked Devilbiss as the first to run a 7-second elapsed time with a factory computer. He bested that accomplishment by clicking off a 7.69 at 185mph pass at the 16th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA World Finals at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, still with the factory computer.
Devilbiss stepped into the NMRA VMP Superchargers Terminator vs GT500 Shootout category in 2014 and quickly earned a reputation as one of the toughest out there by winning the shootout three times. Since then, the evolution of Devilbiss’s Shelby has come courtesy of Evolution Performance themselves, along with many others, and the racer has seen his share of competition in other classes such as NMRA Edelbrock Renegade, NMRA/NMCA VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw, and NMRA UPR Products Modular Xtreme. In 2015, Devilbiss took third in the NMRA Renegade season championship points standings during his first year in the class.
Until recently, Devilbiss had been flogging the 3,500-pound “lead sled” Shelby and still managing to put down impressive numbers. Early in 2017, Henry Fryfogle of HFR Fabrication spent some time reworking the car’s suspension and chassis.
“Henry cut out the rear cage from the main hoop back and replaced it with a new section, added a new water tank and custom transmission cooler, a new aluminum fuel cell, and a bunch of other changes,” noted Devilbiss, who was running L&M Race Engines power along with a Precision turbocharger, Coan transmission and billet bolt-together torque converter for the 2017 NMRA season opener race in Bradenton, Florida.
With PTP Racing’s Patrick Barnhill along for the ride to utilize his tuning talents, Devilbiss was double-entered into Modular Xtreme as well as the Terminator vs GT500 Shootout. Not only was he the number-one qualifier in each, but incredibly went on to win both classes at the 23rd Annual Nitto Tire NMRA Spring Break Shootout Presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords.
After the third stop on the 2017 NMRA tour, the 17th Annual WyoTech NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania, where Devilbiss qualified second in Street Outlaw on a 4.67 at 155mph hit and picked up a round-one win in eliminations, he decided to make a change.
“We were planning to compete in Street Outlaw and X275, but the car was way too heavy,” explained Devilbiss, whose Shelby had plenty of pounds to spare. “After Maple Grove, the group at Evolution Performance took the liberty of removing the existing engine and gutting everything else—all was removed, including the wiring, seats, dash, and more. Then, it was off to HFR Fabrication where it got cut up.” Fryfogle and the HFR team quickly cut out everything that wasn’t needed, including the inner fenders, panels in the back, in the engine bay, and more, resulting in more than 600-pounds being removed.
A tubular frame for the front end was fabricated, and “everything inside the car besides the chromoly tubing is now carbon fiber,” added Fred Cook, Operations Manager at Evolution Performance. “HFR mini-tubbed it utilizing carbon fiber tubs, installed a Racecraft Pro Lite 9-inch housing that was narrowed a good amount with a Strange Ultra center section with Strange gears and spool, Racecraft wishbone, Racecraft K-member, Penske Racing rear shocks with valving by Precision Racing Suspension, Santhuff double-adjustable struts in the front, and so much more.”
While still at HFR, Fryfogle also fabricated and installed the 25.3 SFI-certified roll cage that will allow Devilbiss to dip down to the 6.50-second elapsed time range. The new carbon dash was mounted, as well as the shifter and driveshaft tunnel. A rear seat delete had been a part of the Shelby’s previous build, but new lighter-weight panels were installed along with the battery support in the trunk.
In the engine bay, HFR “built the turbo headers, made the turbo mount, ran all of the piping, and installed our Evolution Performance Super Stealth upper intake manifold plenum that’s bigger than previous versions,” explained Cook. “It’s fed by an Accufab 105mm Max throttle body and utilizes the stock GT500 lower intake manifold. All the CNC work and hand-porting on the GT500 air-water intake manifold was done by Slawko Racing Heads, and the intercooler core inside is a Kenne Bell BIGUN’.”
To accommodate the body and structural changes, a carbon front clip and matching carbon doors from Larry Jeffers Race Cars were fitted by HFR. Meanwhile, carbon side skirts and a rear deck lid from TruFiber complemented the new components, and HFR custom-fabricated a new rear wing. As the Street Outlaw class rules require operational headlights (and taillights), HFR also made sure to mount the functional lighting at both ends.
Lastly, in order to ensure the Iceman stays safe while he blasts his “Devil’s Reject” off obtain to hellacious time slips, HFR installed a carbon/Kevlar composite racing seat from Racetech, complete with a halo-style head restraint system for extra protection. A Stroud fire suppression system was installed, along with dual parachutes, harness, and window net also from Stroud. Binders from TBM Brakes were added front and rear, and will reliably haul the less-hefty car down to a controlled stop after each run.
After only just six weeks at HFR, their portion of the work was completed and Devilbiss’s “Reborn Reject” was handed over to Evolution Performance for the remainder of the build. Back at headquarters, Cook and his group, lead by Nelson Whitlock, along with Steven Schechterly, Rob Convery, and Dalton Winkler, started on their own task list. Cook was responsible for spec’ing out and setting up the new engine combination, which is comprised of an all-new, X275- and Street-Outlaw-legal Ford Modular engine.
Built by MPR Racing Engines, the 355ci bullet has been fitted with Darton sleeves, making it only 349 ci instead.
“Some of the stuff we did we can’t disclose, but the MPR engine is really race engine-oriented whereas our last engine was more street/race-style,” stated Cook of the all-out build. Tim Eichhorn at MPR worked closely with Cook to select the aggressive cam profiles and compression level—a high 12:1 ratio was settled on—and was given specific instructions not to hold back. “Some engine builders leave a lot on the table because they don’t want to hear racers bitch and complain that they’re breaking, but I told Tim I wanted to go fast and his stuff is reliable, but we’re still going to push the envelope.”
Power comes courtesy of a Precision turbocharger, sized either 88mm or 94mm depending on where the car will be running, and is complemented by a 64mm Precision blow-off valve and pair of Precision 46mm wastegates.
Next, a transmission and converter from Coan Racing were bolted up to the new MPR engine.
“Dave [Klaput] and Doug [Skinner] at Proformance Racing Transmissions have their new converter charge control system that allows control of the converter to keep it loose when you spool and gradually bring the pressure back as you go down the track. It’s bad ass,” proclaimed Cook, who also added the system to Devilbiss’s build.
Evolution then installed the Billet Atomizer fuel injectors, fabricated and ran all of the fuel lines, installed all of the filters and mounts, plumbed the entire car, and added other necessary items such as the transmission catch can, engine oil catch can, and more.
Meanwhile, Steve Summers, the 2017 NMCA VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod season champion, flew in from his home in Illinois to handle the wiring duties. Summers—along with assistance from Barnhill who, yes, occasionally does do manual labor— rewired the entire Shelby. The Haltech 2500 Elite ECU and all the switches, harnesses, electrical components, and Speedwire Systems products were wrapped up in just three short days.
To finish up the build, new front and back windshields from Optic Armor were installed, and the “Devil’s Reject” was officially christened, and a new nameplate that has the title proudly emblazoned on it was mounted to the charge pipe. Dual side-exit exhaust bullhorns give the car a fitting devilish look.
The “Reborn Reject” was wrapped up on the Tuesday before the NMCA race at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, in late August. On the dyno with the 88mm turbo bolted on and running at 33 psi of boost, Devilbiss’ Shelby produces a whopping 1,697 horsepower to the wheels.
The guys then threw the car in the trailer and headed out for the race, completely untested. Weighing in at a new, lighter weight of just 2,950 pounds and with the smaller 88mm turbo on board, Devilbiss ran 4.59 at 157 mph with a 1.14-second 60-foot time in VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw trim.
“We didn’t get past the first round, which was fine, because we were really just using the race as a big test session,” shared Devilbiss, who was more than satisfied with the potential his new setup showed.
A new, looser stator in the Coan billet aluminum bolt-together torque converter was put in place, and next on Devilbiss’s schedule was the 2017 YellowBullet.com Nationals at Maryland’s Cecil County Dragway. Unfortunately, the stator was too loose and the Shelby lost too much on the big end, so the team decided to scrap that plan and soon put the original stator back in.
Up until that point, Devilbiss had been racing his Shelby with an unpainted front end. Knowing he wanted to make a splash for the 19th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA World Finals at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, during the last weekend in September, it was imperative that the Shelby get to the paint shop.
“We wanted to work with Paint by Bruce Mullins, but he’s booked a year in advance,” laughed Cook, who doesn’t take no for an answer and makes sure that his customers at Evolution are well taken care of. “I pleaded with him and told him we would do whatever it takes to make it happen, and he had the entire car painted in a week! He even airbrushed the front and it’s absolutely amazing, he went above and beyond and saved us.” The result was flawless, as expected, and Devilbiss headed into Kentucky looking like a star.
“We made some test passes and were doing okay, but the car was trying to wheelie a lot so we put some weight on the front end,” noted Devilbiss. Cook then clarified that, as it wasn’t back-halving as expected, more changes were made. “We consulted with Dave and Doug of Proformance Racing Transmissions again, whose customer support is second to none, and made a jetting change in the converter charge control system to tighten it up and bam—unbelievable!” The result was a 4.47 at 166mph hit during a test and tune pass. With only around a dozen passes under its belt leading into the competition, Devilbiss clicked off a 4.49 at 166mph pass in round one of VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw eliminations, but opponent John Urist ran a hair quicker and Devilbiss was done for the day.
With the NMRA/NMCA season wrapped up, Devilbiss sent the Shelby back to HFR Fabrication where more chassis changes and other adjustments were made. Next on his schedule is the 22nd annual Haltech World Cup Finals—Import vs. Domestic race at Maryland International Raceway, and the group is expecting to run in the high 6-second zone in the quarter mile. The rear gears have been switched to accommodate the longer racing distance, and after WCF, Devilbiss will head to the Mod Motor Nationals race at South Georgia Motorsports Park to finish out his year.
With so many professionals involved, the quality of work done was of the highest caliber, and as a result, no issues have cropped up during the Shelby’s shakedown. Patrick Barnhill from PTP Racing has been on board since day one tuning, and has made sure the car stays happy and healthy.
During the off-season, the Devilbiss team will focus more on their other passion—charity and outreach work. Evolution Performance hosts a car show each spring where money is raised to go to a family in need at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the pair also works with the World Motor Sports Breast Cancer Foundation.
With 2018 quickly approaching, Evolution Performance’s flagship Shelby and Devilbiss have quite a busy year ahead. Plans are to have Devilbiss drive in VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw for both the NMRA and NMCA series, as well as the Strange Engineering Outlaw Street Car Shootout at Cecil County Dragway. Given Devilbiss’s past penchant for making good on his performance promises, his goals of getting to the 6s in the quarter-mile and 4.30s in the eighth aren’t a matter of “if” but rather “when.”
Owner/Driver: Brian Devilbiss
Occupation: Welding and Fabrication Business Owner
Class: Street Outlaw and X275
Crew: Michelle, Fred Cook Sr., Fred Cook, Nelson Whitlock, Steven Schechterly, Dalton Winkler, Rob Convery, Henry Fryfogle, Patrick Barnhill, Jason Lee, Adam Lambert, Andy Lambert, Steven Summers, Jason Webb
Engine: 5.8L 4V MODular engine
Engine builder: MPR Racing Engines
Displacement: 349 cubic inches
Block: Factory 5.8L aluminum block with Darton sleeves
Crank: Bryant billet crank
Rods: GRP billet aluminum
Pistons: MPR custom Diamond pistons
Heads: Slawko Racing CNC-machined 5.8L 4V
Valvetrain: Oversized Ferrea valves
Cam type: Comp Cams/MPR custom turbo cams
Intake Manifold: Slawko Racing CNC-machined and hand-finished intake manifold
Intercooler: Kenne Bell BIGUN’ air-to-water intercooler
EFI system: Haltech Elite 2500+REM
Power-adder: Precision Turbo GEN 2 Pro Mod 88mm or 94mm
Fuel brand and type: VP Racing Fuels Q16
Headers and exhaust: HFR Fabrication forward-facing turbo headers and exhaust
Transmission: TH400 automatic
Transmission Builder: Coan Engineering/Proformance Racing Transmissions
Torque converter: Coan Engineering billet aluminum bolt-together torque converter
Rearend: Racecraft, Inc. Prolite Fabricated 9-inch with Strange 40 Spline Gun-Drilled with lightened flanges axles with Performance Bearing ceramic axle bearings, 5/8 titanium studs and aluminum lug nuts, Strange Engineering billet aluminum Ultra Case, spool and gears
Chassis: Factory uni-body with 25.3 SFI roll cage
Body and/or chassis builder: Henry Fryfogle of HFR Fabrication
Suspension (Front): Racecraft, Inc. Tubular K-Member with 2-inch Drop Spindles, Santhuff double-adjustable coilovers, Racecraft, Inc. billet aluminum mid plate, race camber plates and coil springs.
Suspension (Rear): Racecraft, Inc. Elite 2-inch HD anti-roll bar, wishbone, coil springs, upper and lower control arms. Penske Racing shocks with Performance Racing Suspension valving and air lift system
Brakes (Front): TBM disc brakes with ceramic bearings, titanium studs and aluminum lug nuts
Brakes (Rear): TBM disc brakes with ceramic bearings, titanium studs and aluminum lug nuts
Wheels (front): Weld Racing Black 17-inch V-Series
Wheels (Rear): Weld Racing Black 15-inch double bead-lock V-Series
Tires (Front): 27.5/4.0-17 M/T ET front-runners
Tires (Rear): 275/60R15 M/T ET Street Pro Radial
Aftermarket body modifications: Larry Jeffers Race Cars carbon fiber front clip, doors and dash. Trufiber carbon fiber deck lid and side skirts. HFR Fabrication race wing, Optic Armor front windshield and back window
Safety equipment: Stroud Safety fire suit, window net, dual parachutes, fire suppression system, and engine diaper
Vehicle weight: 2,950 lbs
Quickest et: 7.32 (¼-mile) 4.47 (1/8-mile)
Best 60-foot: 1.12
Fastest mph: 190 mph (¼-mile) and 168 (1/8-mile)
Sponsors: Evolution Performance, Inc., HFR Fabrication, MPR Racing Engines, Slawko Racing Heads, TBM Brakes, Proformance Racing Transmissions, Coan Engineering, Haltech, Optic Armor, LM Tire & Wheel, Racecraft, Inc., Precision Turbo, Weld Racing, Mickey Thompson Tires, Strange Engineering, Accufab, Paint By Bruce Mullins, PTP Racing, Stroud Safety, Weldon High Performance, Mod Motor Mustangs, Hostile Street Cars