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Running Low 10s and Winning Races With A Holley-Equipped Turbocharged ’93 Mustang at NMRA/Holley Ford Festival

Author: Evan Smith | 01/18/2021 < Back to Motor Life Home
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Tim Casto almost gave up on racing at the Holley NMRA Ford Fest, but quitting is not his style. He put a ton of work into his turbocharged 1993 Ford Mustang LX preparing to race specifically in the Tremec Stick Shift Shootout, but the car wouldn’t fire when it came time to load up. He diagnosed the problem and swapped in a Holley ignition the night before the event and with a sigh of relief, the boosted 302 came to life.


Still untested, and with little sleep, Casto made the tow from Mason, West Virginia to Bowling Green, Kentucky. His hopes were simply to qualify for the shootout, something he’d failed to do in the past.


Casto’s first attempts at Beech Bend Raceway Park quarter-mile didn’t go as planned, but after getting help from Holley technicians at the track, it showed promise. Together, they ironed out the problem and the LX was ready to fly. Feeling confident, Casto rolled to the line, shot off the line and was on his way to a great pass when he hit unseen fluid on track and lost control of his 1993 Electric Red LX. Despite going into a wild 360-degree spin, he used quick reactions, sawed at the wheel and somehow kept it off the wall.


“I came to Bowling Green just to run the Tremec Stick Shift Shootout,” Casto said. “I tried to qualify 2018 but didn’t make it. This year I was facing a similar fate, but the guys from Holley helped with the tuning and I made enough progress to launch and get down track,” he explained.


“Saturday morning I was finally on a good run, so I couldn’t believe it when I spun out. The car ahead of me leaked fluid and when I hit 3rd gear. I was going about 105 miles per hour and it did a 360 across the track. Somehow, I kept it off the wall,” he added. “Initially I didn’t know what was wrong, so I checked everything and couldn’t find leaks of any kind on my car. I later learned it was something on the track. I went back up for my next time trial and everything felt good, but I still lifted in 4th gear just to be safe,” Casto added.


“This car means a lot to me. I bought it three years ago from a friend and it’s for my grandson when he turns 16, he’s 9 now. It was mostly original, but had a set of Weld wheels on there. I knew I’d dig into the car once I bought it. I even bought the On3 turbo kit about 4 years ago, hoping I’d get the chance to put on there.


Casto Fox engine

Tim Casto modified the 302 engine with Ford Performance Parts X303 heads, a “B” cam and boost comes from a Precision Turbo 76/75 turbocharger. The setup is controlled by a Holley Dominator EFI and fire comes by way of a Holley ignition. The mill makes 650 rwhp and can run low 10s in the quarter-mile.


“I have a 1995 Cobra, but never drove Fox body Mustangs much, so I was excited to get this project going. I sold the stock engine out of the car and went with another stock block with Ford Performance X303 heads, “B” cam and Victor EFI intake. It’s like a Ford Racing crate engine,” he added. “Then I added the On3 turbo kit, with a Precision Turbo 76/75 turbo, 75 mm throttle body and a Holley Dominator EFI. On E85, and at Big 3 Racing in Hinckely, Ohio, it made 650 rear-wheel horsepower and 680 rear-wheel torque on 17 pounds of boost. I also went with a flex-fuel sensor so I can run 93-octane gasoline or E85.” In addition to the 302, Casto relies on a McLeod TRX clutch and Tremec Magnum 6-speed transmission.


Things improved Saturday afternoon as Casto got off a clean first pass, running a 10.62. With confidence building, he stepped up the launch and ran 10.52 and then 10.48 to clock a three-run average of 10.544. More importantly, he nailed the 7th spot in the Tremec Stick Shift Shootout—he’d won the battle, but the war was yet to come.

Casto defeated Nicholas Shortride in the First round with a 10.54 at 136 mph, then he beat the turbo four-cylinder Mercury Capri of Bob Myers in the semi-finals. Amazingly, his car was getting quicker every run and he was in finals matched up with his pal Mike Niehaus, who was driving the quickest Mustang in the class.


“I know Mike’s Mustang is quick, it’s an 8.70 car, so I figured I’d have to get him on the tree. Mike ended up getting me on the tree, but because of the handicapped start I was out there. I expected him to rip by for the win, but surprisingly he had trouble down track. I just ran my path and was wide open as hard as I could go. I looked over and saw him back there and knew I had him. Casto legged it out to a 10.27 at 136.81 mph, his quickest pass of the event.


“It was a crazy moment,” exclaimed Casto. “I went to NMRA just to get some passes on the car and to hopefully qualify for the Shootout, and I ended up in the final and I beat Mike who is always tough! It was so rewarding because my sister was also at the track and she’s never seen me race. It was amazing how it all came together. Once we started to figure out the best launch, it planted me in the seat and the 60-foot times started coming down. I knew if I hit my shift points I had a chance.” Unfortunately, my wife Jacki and my daughter Ciji couldn’t make it, so there’s a reason for me to come back and defend next year.”

Casto Fox winner's circle

Casto took home a NMRA Victor trophy, plus a plaque from TREMEC and almost $2,000 in cash and prizes—including a McLeod RTX clutch and flywheel and a $500 bonus from Holley!

casto plate


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