’66 Mustang + NASCAR V8 =</br> One Crazy Afternoon
Bay Area Bruiser

It’s late afternoon on a Thursday and I’m in Hayward, California – a working class city on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. I’m strapped into a bucket seat on the passenger side of Mike Maier’s 1966 Ford Mustang as we rumble down the street, casually passing liquor stores and elementary schools.

Other than wide tires and a dropped stance, this Mustang doesn’t look much different from the countless other Mustang coupes out there, but from the moment you hear this car approaching you know there’s something very different about it.

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Mike’s Mustang isn’t just loud – it’s got an exhaust note that race fans would recognize from the pits at Bristol or Talladega. It’s also got the distinct whine of a gearbox that was built to endure double-file restarts at Darlington or the esses at Sonoma. But we aren’t waiting for the flagman to drop the green, we are cruising the rough streets of the East Bay.

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It feels like Mike is doing everything can to keep the car as under the radar as possible, but it’s not easy to do when you’ve got a 750 horsepower NASCAR V8 under your right foot.

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Eventually, we arrive at a freeway onramp and Mike navigates the Mustang onto Interstate 580 and finally lays into the accelerator. This is when things get crazy. I’m slammed back in my seat as the car rips onto 580 then comes the distinct sensation of the rear end swaying back and forth as the Mustang’s 315-width tires struggle for traction at highway speeds.

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We are no longer attempting to join the flow traffic. Instead, the afternoon commuters are disappearing in our rear view mirror. I’ve experienced some fast cars in my time, but the force with which this Mustang accelerates is downright scary.

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Not wanting to have the entire California Highway Patrol looking for a blue Mustang, Mike quickly slows the car down to cruising speed, and over the whine of the gearbox I hear him say, “That was half throttle”. Holy hell.

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Now usually I’d be a little apprehensive about being a passenger in such a ridiculous machine with someone I’d just met, but Mike Maier is a guy that knows how to wheel a car. He’s been racing Mustangs for his whole life and has several SCCA national champion trophies to show for it.

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But for as good as he is behind the wheel, he’s not just a driver. When he’s not racing on weekends he can be found in his workshop geeking out over suspension geometry as he designs and builds suspension and chassis parts for like-minded Mustang owners. The guy is a true mechanical wizard.

Peer Pressure
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Mike first acquired the Mustang back in 2002, and at the time the car was a ‘bucket’ as he describes it. It was a factory six cylinder car with a tired 289 under the hood, stock suspension and drum brakes all around. A couple years later Mike was planning his wedding, and he thought it would be cool to fix up the car up to commemorate his marriage.

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With the help of some buddies, Mike built the ’66 into a nice little street car. After enjoying the car for a few years, Mike’s friend and fellow Bay Area racer Brian Hobaugh (owner of the red Corvette we featured earlier this week) was pressuring him to take the ‘Stang out to the local GoodGuys autocross events.

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Eventually Mike obliged and after nearly winning his first event with the mildly-modified Mustang, he was hooked. He found himself scheming over everything he could do to make the car faster through the cones. Many events and many wins later, the car has become the wild machine you see here.

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After our run down the freeway, we rolled through some of the twisty roads in the hills around Lake Chabot and it’s here I can feel Mike’s suspension expertise coming to life. He’s not pushing the car anywhere near as hard as he does on the track, but even at cruising speed you can feel the chassis tightening up and the tires digging in, clearly asking for more.

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It might be the ridiculous NASCAR V8 that breaks the necks and ears of bystanders and makes passengers hang on for dear life, but Mike’s true passion isn’t acceleration – it’s cornering. Over the years he’s used the ’66 as a both a testbed and demonstration vehicle for his parts, and it’s a rolling testament to high-level suspension engineering.

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All of Mike’s know-how has been thrown at this car’s chassis. Up front it’s running a trick long double A-arm setup, and if you are familiar with factory Mustang suspension you can see how different everything looks under the hood.

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Out back the car is still equipped with a live axle, but it’s got a fully redesigned torque arm and panhard rod setup with a pushrod to rocker arm coil spring setup in the trunk. You might remember the similiar setup that Vaughn Gittin Jr. used when he built his RTR-X Mustang a while back. In fact, Vaughn and Mike were on the phone often during the build process, scheming up the RTR-X’s suspension design. There also high end JRI racing shocks all around.

The Heart Of A NASCAR
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The motor comes directly from the Roush Yates NASCAR Nationwide Series program and makes 750hp at the kind of RPMs that Honda S2000 owners dream of. There’s also 585ft/lbs of torque for good measure.

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Mike has actually gone back and forth between the NASCAR motor and a much milder 302 setup. On one hand he loves the outrageous power of the race motor, but he also likes packing the family and going on a road trip to Tahoe with the street-spec engine.

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The transmission is a C&R Racing CR1V2 four-speed designed for lightning fast shifts, but once Mike puts it into fourth gear the Mustang is actually a fairly decent cruiser. Or at least as decent as you can expect with a NASCAR powertrain. C&R also provided the race-spec third member which houses lightweight Motive gears.

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While the exterior doesn’t look too different from a standard issue ’66 Mustang there are a few changes. The front fenders are from Maier Racing and are over two inches wider than stock, and Mike also hand-pounded the steel rear fenders for more tire clearance. The scooped Maier Racing hood is styled after the one found on the ’67 Shelby GT350 and Brian Hobaugh did the paint and bodywork at his shop in Fremont.

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Speaking of local Bay Area companies, the wheels come from a San Leandro-based outfit called Team Three and they measure 18×11-inch on all four corners with 315/30R18 Falken Azenis RT615Ks all around.

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When it comes to autocross racing, braking is one of the most important attributes of a car, so Mike upgraded the Stang’s antiquated drum setup with a Wilwood disc package featuring six-piston calipers at the front and four-piston calipers at the rear.

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Just peeking in the cockpit, you certainly wouldn’t guess that this car is packing NASCAR power. There’s a modest roll bar setup and racing harnesses, but everything else is old school – right down to the bucket seats and wood-rimmed steering wheel.

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That’s what I love about Mike’s philosophy with this car. It’s absolutely one of the fastest, best-handling and most well-engineered early Mustangs out there, but it doesn’t bang you over the head with it.

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Instead, Mike has kept the car modest and functional, letting the results on the track speak for themselves. Just recently Mike decided to leave the family business at Maier Racing to start building his own line of suspension parts, and after experiencing this car on the road I’ve got no doubts in his success.

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In this day and age where hype and image counts for everything, it’s impossible not to respect Mike for doing things the old school way. Designing, building and racing your own stuff – it’s the life of a Speedhunter through and through.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike

Story Produced by Elizabeth White

Instagram: itswhitenoise



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Hahaha, I see some "DRIVE" theme on here recently!
Not that that's a bad thing... Actually, it's great, because let's face it - how many times have you read a story on here and wished you could at least hear the car's engine running... Let alone see it shred some tires on a canyon road? 
Great article by the way! 
PS: a story about Mary Pozzie and her wicked Camaro perhaps? ;)


Keep seeing all these cars on here that I know from my local auto crosses!


What is the redline on this thing anyway?


The wheels! They are gorgeous


Now this is what I'm talking about! The whole package demands(and gets) respect. 
Love that scoop under the air filter and that suspension, the front isn't my cup of coffee but it serves its purpose. Awesome right up guys!


kphillips9936 Hey Mr Phillips, you are a respectful dude. I have a keen interest in Pro Touring builds and I am glad Rodric said that they are going to showcase even more. So, keep your eyes peeled for more respect. I am not sure how a nice ''right up'' should be or shouldn't, but in this case, I'd like to step 'right up' and tell Garrett '' You are f***ing awesome for posting another cool Pro Touring ride, bro.''


I talked to Mary at the Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenge in Portland a few weeks ago! We are following her to the championship in Las Vegas to shoot her feature.
Check out when we covered her Camaro in 2011.


I'm liking the posts as of late. Much better than the last couple of months have been.


You did a story on this car and provided *zero* videos/sound clips. I am thoroughly disappointed in you, sir.


Speedhunters as it should be. Epic car.


Please keep posting more killer pro touring content!


@TROLLS ROYCE kphillips9936 Oops, meant "write up" lol. And your right in stepping "right up" with that comment. More Pro Touring love please SH!


@B Not disappointed but I would love to hear this bad lil pony.


Damn. DAAAAMN. That thing is nuts.

I would say get wider tires, but he already has 315's on all 4 wheels, so It's not like you CAN get much wider unless you go up to slicks.


More of this, less stance stuff. Mustangs aren't my thing but I love seeing cars that are meant to be driven.


Luv DAT junk in DA trunk


binary0x01 about 8500 to 9000


Awesome car, and awesome guy. Here's a vid of the car with its new RoushYates powerplant.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//http://www.youtube.com/embed/f4iH3lyns4Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


Needs more fastback. & road tripping with family in a car with a harness bar? doubt it. Or very dumb idea for people in the back seat. Love the color but the paint match of the front clip is off.


Ill sit in the back ,,,


That rear suspension is beautiful.


Oh my Mustang!!


My first car was a '66 Mustang coupe, so this speaks to me. I wanted to build it pro touring, but it was 1983 and pro touring didn't exist back then. I even built a model kit of my dream build. The stance on Maier's car looks just like my dream from '83. So glad to see someone had the talent and money to build this beast. Now to see if my cousin will sell my old '66 back to me...


That is one BMF right there.


Thanks for your feedback Option13. Like always, we try and keep variety throughout our stories, but we'll certainly keep this in mind!


AutoX_a_Truck Yes, sir!


You're write two...


I can appreciate drift cars, though they are not really my thing. But give me a muscle cars that can handle as well as it can go in a straight line and I'm in heaven.


A car, or anything else, cannot have "The Heart of a NASCAR" because NASCAR in not a noun, and cannot be used as one. NASCAR is not a car (even though it does seemingly have the word car in it) or a type of car, it is an organization. The word NASCAR is an acronym. It's hard for people to understand that if they don't have any knowledge which seems to be the case here. A car could have a NASCAR derived heart, for instance but not The Heart of a NASCAR. I suppose it can be as you have the headline if you want to make up English language rules as you go.




NicholasMaher .....


How original, not actually understanding a concept, knowing what to think of it, or knowing how to write those pesky and problematic words that come from thoughts and having a brain. Yet finding an image completely sums up how you feel because it's so uniquel. Brilliant!


NicholasMaher zephoto 
ITT: Sometimes an image is all you need...




Yes I know NASCAR is the name of a racing organization, but many people, use the word to describe the vehicles, including the drivers. "It's a lot different then driving a NASCAR" etc. It may not have originally been that way, but it's pretty common usage from my experience. I don't think anyone was confused with what I was referring to :)


NicholasMaher Butthole detected...


NicholasMaher And you took an awesome car topic and went all Sesame Street on it. We get it and know what NASCAR stands for, no need to be the anal English teacher over here. Sheesh!


@FlushPoke That's mean!


Mike Garrett You're right in that it is somewhat common usage in everyday media that appeal to the lowest common denominator, say USA Today or the like, or other non automotive media outlets. The many people who use the term incorrectly do so out out of ignorance. I did not suggest that using the term incorrectly (as done here) would be confusing, it's just ignorant. Since when did using a term incorrectly simply because others do so become acceptable and OK? Is using the term correctly bad some how but using it incorrectly is good? All you would have to do to use the term correctly is reword that headline which would take no time and only a little effort. I have never heard a driver use it as you suggest. Ever.


w3rrd Woe, dooshbags can detect buttholes. Who'd a thunk it.


Great modern and classic balance!


NicholasMaher w3rrd It's a title. With a meaning you clearly understood. Whether its possible or not. You got it. So it makes sense. Hence the reason for these pictures.


curious , if he is really into autox, does he run a better bolstered seat for the events?


so speedhunters is just covering the cars that have been on drive a long time ago? first the vette now this?


You can get a lot wider lol. C6's run 345's stock.


"When you can black marks from the exit of one corner to the breaking zone of the next, then you have enough power"


NicholasMaher Mike Garrett
Yeah, but it sounds repetitive (even if it technically isnt) to say "NASCAR car" so most people just calls them NASCAR's.


EricFrentress Mike Garrett It may sound repetitive as you say, though, technically and actually it's not. It's really just willfully dropping your level of literacy. When is that good?  The term is used correctly in 2 other instances in the article. The headline as used in this article sounds awkward anyway.
Imagine this as a better headline: A NASCAR Heart




Excellent! There is simply nothing to improve on this car!


So it's killing me......what does the Roush motor actually rev to?


Pwain Probably 9k or so


Pwain Mike said he dialed the redline down a bit because he doesn't quite have the budget to rebuild engines as much a NASCAR team does :)


@Pooft Lee Yep haha.


JeremieThompson I love those /drive videos, but I'm not sure how two out of the the hundreds of cars we've featured means "just".


dangina Yes he does, he actually has a few different racing seats he swaps in for events.


Jun Imai Yes it does.


Mike Garrett JeremieThompson sorry that does read kinda harsh, just 2 big muscle cars back to back from the same season.


dangina Did think that too. I love the look and think this car is perfect but I'm sure it generates enough G's for those seats to feel flat and slippery. Swapping fixed back buckets would be no issue tho for a guy who runds two engine / trans setups


NicholasMaher Mike Garrett Nicholas that's just anal. I am certain most readers are both aware of the NASCAR acronym and with the common useage as in this post.


Pancakes NicholasMaher Mike Garrett If you have an attention span that allows you to read more than 2 sentences, which does not seem to be the case, you could have discovered that I had already covered the acronym and the common misuse of it.
Here we go again for the hard of reading: I am fully aware that many (not all) readers know what NASCAR is, and that they know the CAR in it does not mean car as in automobile. Yet many use the term as if the CAR means car.
It doesn't.
The many people who use the term incorrectly do so out out of ignorance or in an apparently misguided desire to lower their level of literacy so that the CAR in NASCAR means car.
It doesn't.
Many people using a term incorrectly (any term) or spelling a word wrongly doesn't make their misuse or misspelling correct no matter how many times they do so.


Cool car, cool guy, cool article. Well done!


Bad ass write up Mike Garrett, on a badass car built by a badass dude.  I'm tired of all the ftards on the webs thinking they know it all and always trying to correct people.  If you're that badass, correcting writers about usage of "NASCAR", seriously you wouldn't be on here writing anything.  You'd be building the badass shit for people to drool over.  Sigh.  Too much ftards up in the world trying to prove it all.  Other than that, please more badass cars.


NicholasMaher  your rant on the usage of the word NASCAR makes me want to kick you in the NASCAR balls


LOVE this car! I think those 11 inch wide wheels really set the look as well, providing what I think is an awesome functional/aggressive stance. Not to mention the suspension work too! I like that he uses the car not just for autocross but for street as well.

On another note, I am looking at getting started on taking a few shots of cars for myself and maybe starting a page eventually. I was wondering what common camera/lens setups you most commonly use? Where should I start with the first things to get me going?




Seeing as though you couldn't offer us all a ride, next time take a go pro and get live sound and video please!


Fantastic car, congratulations! What is the paint color code?


Maybe Speedhunters should consider doing a collab with Hoonigans, seeing how this car got featured on Daily Transmission yesterday... Just a thought, though, for the videos only I mean.