The Ultimate Power Source ™

OPTIMA Invitational

Posted: Oct 26, 2016

Jay Payson's 2015 Ford Mustang- 2016 OUSCI Preview

One of the great things about OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car and the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational, presented by K&N Filters, is that it allows aftermarket companies to show their customers what can be done to improve the appearance and performance of their vehicles with aftermarket parts. HP Tuners is one of several companies that have been very pro-active in putting their products to the test in the real-world environment of these events with Jay Payson's 2015 Ford Mustang.

The project started as a used, base GT-optioned car with 1,500 miles and a $26,000 price tag. They dubbed the projected "Uncompromised" because they know OEs need to make compromises on mass-produced production vehicles. Their goal was to build a multi-purpose car that was capable of competing on a road course, running over 175 mph in the 1/2-mile and faster than nine seconds in the 1/4-mile. They plan to reach their objective by selecting parts that complement each other, test them, tune the combinations and eliminate the compromises inherent in the production version.

Livernois Motorsports & Engineering built the engine with reliability and power in mind. They dropped the compression ratio from 11.0:1 to 10.2:1 to accommodate the boost and nitrous they planned to add, which would allow the car to produce up to 1,100 horsepower at the tires. That also meant fortifying the bottom end with billet main caps. The first blower Jay installed was ProChargers' D1SC. That necessitated ditching the rubber boot on the air intake, because it would collapse under the heat with the D1SC. Jay also had the catch can plumbed into the air inlet, but the vacuum from the inlet pulled oil right through the catch can and into the intake. Fellow competitor, Tim Schoch helped him track down the source of the issue and right now it vents to atmosphere, but that is a planned upgrade they will address after Las Vegas.

Payson also clearanced the headlight to let the air flow freely through the intake. Midway through the season, Jay moved up to the F1A94 supercharger and also upgraded the intercooler to the ProCharger Stage 2. So far, the result has been the same power at four less PSI. The Mustang still retains catalytic converters, but has a full exhaust system from American Racing Headers.

The car is obviously tuned with HP Tuners by both Injected Engineering and Peltz Performance Tunes. The tunes are stored in the nGauge, which can be used as a segmented gauge, shift light and more! (you can find out more about the nGauge at FerreroSpeed.com) Mantic Clutch provided a prototype three-disc clutch for the S550 platform and American Powertrain provided the swap kit for the MT82 transmission as well as a new throwout bearing to work with the prototype clutch. The six-speed now features a wide-ratio tranny with better overdrive for the 3.31 rear gear.

On the suspension side of things, solid bushings from DuSold Designs have replaced rubber in critical areas to minimize wheel hop and undesirable compliance. MCS double-adjustable coilovers with pre-production camber plates from Vorshlag also help keep the car on rails. DuSold Designs also provided the front splitter, which keeps cone scuffs to a minimum and adds downforce, as does the DuSold Designs spoiler on the rear.

Braking has been improved with 14-inch brakes from Wilwood. Those rotors are actually an inch smaller than the Ford Performance Pack rotors, but Jay didn't want to compromise performance with the additional weight and the 14-inch rotors have proven to be all the brake the car needs. The wheels have custom backspacing and were ordered raw, so they could be powdercoated. The offsets allow Jay to run 315-series rubber on all four corners.

Payson ran into the guys from Chicane 23 at Circuit of the Americas and given the heat that was present at that event, he was convinced to swap hoods. This upgrade has helped reduce his cylinder head temperatures by 18 degrees! Jay also spun the stock balancer at COTA, so ATI has been contacted to provide a reliable replacement and we expect he'll have an OPTIMA battery relocated to his trunk soon as well.

So how did Jay make it into the field for the 2016 OUSCI? He started out with an impressive debut performance, scoring 473 points at New Jersey Motorsports Park. While that would've been enough points to earn a GT class invitation to the OUSCI at eight of the qualifying events, the GT field at New Jersey was one of the most-competitive of the year and Jay finished third.

His next outing came at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where GT Class champion, Bryan Johnson, turned in a near-flawless 492-point performance. However, Johnson had already qualified for Las Vegas at the NCM event, which meant Payson's Mustang received the nod. Even with his invite in-hand, there was still a points chase to be decided, so Jay ran two more events at Circuit of the Americas, where he finished sixth in his class and NOLA Motorsports, where Johnson again took home the class win. However, Payson and Cliff Elliott tied for second-place with 440 points, with the tie-breaker from the Lingenfelter Design & Engineering Challenge going to Payson. That point total also gave Payson the three-point advantage he needed to beat out Elliott for fourth place on the season in the GT class.

Elliott hopes his prior OUSCI experience and a few surprises will give him the upper hand in Vegas, but Jay has a few surprises of his own, including a Nitrous Express kit with a programmable controller, which isn't much of a surprise now that we've mentioned. Either way, you'll want to see this duel in the desert, so buy your OUSCI tickets today!

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