Barnett Wheels Holley EFI-Powered LS Mustang to Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout Victory

By: Todd Veney | 09/27/2018 < Back to Motor Life Home

Lyle Barnett drove Team Bigun's Holley EFI-powered "Beer Money" Fox body Mustang to victory in the highly anticipated Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout held in conjunction with the Shakedown at the Summit event at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. The premise: four teams get a car and $10,000 – $7,000 worth of products from the Summit catalog and $3,000 in cash to buy any new and used parts they want – to create the fastest, most reliable drag car possible in just 10 days.

Team Bigun, led by Eric Yost and comprised of driver Lyle Barnett, engine builder/tuner Pete Harrell from Harrell Engine and Dyno, fabricator Chris Bailey, and wrenches Jason Smith and Chad Reynolds, stopped three talented crews for the five-figure top prize. Standing between them and victory were Team Stinky Pinky’s "Dr. Rod Knocker" blown big-block Camaro, Team Boddie/Dow Brothers’ "G-Boddie" big-block nitrous Regal, and Dream Team’s "Dream Machine" turbo LS-powered Mustang.

With Yost calling the shots and a talented team with plenty of experience building and racing Mustangs, the crew put together an LS-powered Fox body that produced just short of 900 horsepower. Barnett, the small-tire superstar famous for his heroic comeback from a horrendous fire in late 2015 and owner of the all-time leaf-spring E.T. record aboard Jason Digby’s “Tooth Jerker” Dodge Dart, gained an insurmountable two-tenths holeshot head start on Dwayne Gutridge in the winner-take-all final and won by several car-lengths, 8.51/164 to 8.68/158. "I tried to rush him a little, not let him do his thing," Barnett said. "I knew it would help, and when I saw him go deep [staging] I knew it was over. That was a lot on the line, a lot of pressure. I'm sure he was nervous – I was too. I don't think I've ever left on somebody by more than two-tenths like that."

The winning mount is a turbocharged, nitrous-fed sleeper completely controlled by Holley HP EFI, which managed not just the fuel but also the ignition, boost control, and the bump-box Barnett uses to creep into the staging beams. "We were the only team with a standalone ECU," Barnett said. "We knew going into this thing we were going to run Holley EFI – no way we'd ever run anything else. We had to make the best use of the budget we had so we went with the HP EFI so we'd have more money left to spend on other stuff, and it did everything we asked it to do. It worked perfect, right away."

The engine is 5.3-liter junkyard LM7 with a used 75mm Borg-Warner turbo straight out of a big-rig semi, stock crankshaft, aftermarket sheet-metal intake, 92mm throttle body, used factory connecting rods, and a decked block filled with concrete from a Home Depot. Harrell went old school and hand-ported the factory cylinder heads, ditched the standard multi-layer steel head gaskets, and machined the heads to accept O-rings and copper head gaskets. They saved a ton of money to use elsewhere by rebuilding a used Turbo 400 transmission, but the torque converter and trans-brake are brand-new and were a big part of the reliability they needed to win. "We all worked 12-14 hours a day, poured our heart and soul in into this," Barnett said. "It was great to win, something I'm definitely never going to forget. It was a perfectly street-legal, ready-to drive-down-the-road-car when we got it and we got it in the 8.50s in less than two weeks. If we stayed after it, Pete thinks it would go 7.80s, no problem."

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