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True Ironman—Randy Seward takes the ultimate road trip in his True Street Mustang

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Written by Derek Putnam

Photography by Randy Seward

An ironman can be defined as an exceptionally strong or robust man, or in conjunction with a triathlon, a long-distance race where competitors participate in a combination of swimming, cycling, and running. For nearly a decade, Randy Seward proved that he and his ’92 Mustang are a strong combination that can tackle the street and the strip. Seward has several wins in the QA1/Gear Vendors True Street category to his credit, as well as his share of Spring Break Shootout class titles.

The Florida-based Mustang and its driver also survived a pair of appearances in Hot Rodmagazine’s Drag Week competition, where vehicles are put through over 1,000 miles of street driving and five racetrack appearances over five days. But Seward raised the bar a bit higher with a road trip during the summer of 2018 dubbed “The Pony Express.”

So, how did an 8-second street car survive traveling over 12,000 miles and visiting 41 tracks in summertime temperatures? To find out, follow a long with a few of the highlights Seward shared with us from his adventure.

Traveling 11,600 miles to visit 39 different tracks puts a lot of toll on an engine, so Seward assembled a near duplicate of the turbocharged small-block Ford that had carried him to multiple True Street titles. He swapped the engine after participating at the NMCA Bradenton event, and rebuilt his transmission as well. 

A Mustang notch doesn’t have a ton of trunk space, and minitubs in Seward’s car put that limited space at a greater premium. But he packed as much as he could in the trunk and rear seat for the 10 weeks Seward would spend on the road.

Seward had to travel over 1,000 miles before making his first run, thanks to a rain out at Atlanta Dragway. But Seward made his second stop a good one, participating in the Gear Vendors True Street class at NMCA’s Bluegrass Nationals in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

“The luck wasn’t with me at the next two stops,” said Seward, as he discovered a fuel leak in his secondary fuel system before making it to his third track, Clarksville Speedway in Tennessee, negating any runs. Dynospeed Racing supplied a fuel line fix the next day, but a scheduling conflict at Memphis International Raceway later that evening left Seward without a track pass for the second straight day.
After visiting a pair of tracks in Tulsa and collecting some 9-second time slips, Seward traveled almost 1,500 miles to get to California. “It wasn’t as bad my trip from New Mexico to Florida in 2012,” said Seward. “With a schedule to keep, I didn’t stop much, but the scenery was great.”
California would find Seward visiting Auto Club Speedway, Irwindale Speedway and Auto Club at Famoso. Seward would also get a traveling companion, as wife Muyumi joined him for a of travel and race tracks.

Although Randy doesn’t have a problem using a sleeping bag on the side of the road, or even catching shut eye in the Mustang’s Kirkey seat, he was also offered upgraded quarters along the way. At the Auto Club Famoso stop, the Sewards were granted a few nights stay in the RV of Mike and Alisha Minnick.
Departing California, the Sewards would visit Nevada and Colorado before Muyumi would fly back to Florida. “This was the most interesting drive; through the Rocky Mountains,” Seward reflected. “With a 10,500-feet density altitude, the air is so thin that you don’t get the power normally expected from an engine.” But despite warm conditions and elevated altitude, the Mustang delivered 8-second runs at both tracks.
After completing stops in Kansas and Missouri, Randy’s Mustang was hit with a possible problem. “Lack of traction exposed a problem in Kansas,” said Randy, and the first run at Mo-Kan in Missouri confirmed it — a broken sprag in the transmission. Luckily, Randy survived two runs at Route 66 in Illinois before visiting Bob Alexander’s Transmissions for a repair.

FSC0319-RANDY-10 (Use with photo 10a, 10b, 10c or 10d):

With the transmission mended, Randy was able to visit six tracks without much trouble, other than rain halting activities at a couple stops. “The rain was a bit of a nuisance, but I was still able to visit a lot of great grassroots tracks and take some pictures,” said Randy.

Getting closer to the east coast gave Randy the chance to meet up and race with fellow True Street and Hot RodDrag Week competitors. Cal Hayward drove his 7-second Mustang out to Mid-Michigan Motorplex to line up with Randy, and a few weeks later, Randy ventured out to Atco Dragway to stage up with Mike Jovanis and Rick Steinke.
Michigan also provided Randy with his biggest headache of the trip when a broken valve spring was discovered after a run. Randy still found a way to put a positive spin on the experience. “I was lucky it was a broken intake spring,” he said. “A broken exhaust spring could have a greater chance of that valve hitting the piston.” He was able to complete the fix, as well as replace the rest of the valve springs, and not miss the next track on his list.

Between Michigan and Ohio track stops, Randy was able to visit Mickey Thompson’s headquarters for a fresh pair of ET Street R radials. “I had figured 7,000 miles to that point, but the odometer had passed the 9,000-mile mark,” said Randy. “If I had made passes at all the tracks that were rained out, the tires would have been void of the lines. With all the rain I was yet to travel, those new tires were a blessing!”

The eastern United States found Randy visiting over a dozen tracks in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. “The summer time conditions definitely provided some rain and a few cancelled races,” said Randy. “But I got to visit a lot of tracks I’ve never been to.”
Returning to the Southeast, Randy was greeted by more rain cancelling potential dates at South Georgia Motorsports Park, as well as Palm Beach International Raceway. This gave Randy the chance to add a few more tracks around Florida to his sheet, bringing the total to 41 tracks. And when we finally returned to his home in Orlando for the final runs, the Pony Express trip had amassed 13,800 miles.

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