OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car- Dean Mesquite's 2013 Boss 302 Ford Mustang
OPTIMA's 2015 Search for the Ultimate Street Car begins February 28th at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, California and there are a lot of changes in store for the new year. If you're not up to speed with the new tracks, new classes, new special offers and other details on the series, be sure to check out the podcast.
One of the biggest news items for 2015 is the $3,000 bounty offered by Showtime Motorsports on their own driver, Ken Thwaits. Showtime wants to see more new faces competing in the series in 2015. To that end, they're offering $3,000 to the first newcomer in a late-model Ford Mustang or Dodge Challenger, who is able to beat Ken Thwaits' Camaro and win the GT class at an OUSCI qualifying event. That's a very generous offer, so we immediately began publicizing it on Facebook, where hundreds responded, most of whom didn't realize none of these events take place on a drag strip.
Still, dozens of respondents posted photos of their cars (or someone else's that they pulled off Google) and indicated they were up for the task. We'll be keeping close tabs on the entry list as the season rolls on, but ironically, the competitor we're profiling today, Dean Mesquite, did not come to us after hearing of the Showtime Motorsports bounty and wasn't even aware of it until we mentioned it. Since Dean's 2013 Boss 302 Ford Mustang is eligible for the bounty, we're going to offer fans of OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car, a closer look at both Dean and his Mustang.
Dean attended his first SEMA show a few years back with a good friend of his, Robb Pitts, and they definitely took notice of the OUSCI cars lined up outside SEMA, getting ready to head out on the Detroit Speed Road Rally. "Both Rob and I found the cars quite impressive and we spent several hours admiring the lineup of awesome street machines," says Mesquite. "From then on, we were hooked and aspired to participate in the event someday." That day is coming soon, as Rob, who is in the midst of a '68 Camaro build, will be driving his 2013 ZL1 and Dean will be in the Boss 302 at Thunderhill.
While Dean's interest in the OUSCI is recent, his infatuation with cars has been a lifelong pursuit. "It all started out of being born into a family of car nuts," says Mesquite. "My Dad was a mechanic and was always into muscle cars, ranging from vintage Corvettes to classic GTO's and Chevelles. He did a lot of drag racing and an occasional road race and got me started. By the time I was in high school he and I built a 1970 Chevy C10 from the ground up with a stroked LT1 small block, turbo 400 trans and 4.56 posi gears in the rear. I couldn't wait for the local cruise in Santa Rosa, so I could go out and beat the late model "rich kid" cars.
Twenty years later, my Dad and I took on a full restoration of a 1967 Corvette roadster, set up for road racing but still street legal. He had purchased the car at an auction in Albuquerque and it was in need of a new front clip. Once we rebuilt it, he drove it daily for almost 35 years and that car remains my weekend toy, as Dad passed away several years back. Because of my passion for that car, I have always admired Brian Hobaugh's Corvette, (also a bit a of a family heirloom) and can't wait to see it in action next weekend."
A couple years ago, Dean attended a Shelby club weekend at Sonoma Raceway and was impressed with the vintage Shelby Cobras. That same weekend, there was a new Boss 302, with minor modifications that gave everyone a run for their money. That exhibition put Mesquite on a course to locate a Boss 302 of his own. Once he found the car pictured here, Dean went straight to his good friend (and multi-time OUSCI competitor), Filip Trojanek, owner of CorteX Racing to make the Mustang perform even better.
CorteX developed a suspension system to transform these cars and Mesquite went straight for a package that included a torque arm, Watt's link and adjustable sway bars, choosing to pair it with a set of JRi coilovers. "The car was quickly transformed into a real track machine," says Dean. "I also did air box modification and a new tune." On track days the car sits on a set of Jongbloed 18x10.5-inch forged wheels and 305/35R18 NT01 tires, essentially a street-legal grooved slick, that will need to be changed out for OPTIMA competition to meet the minimum 200 treadwear requirement for competition.
The brakes include stock calipers, stainless lines and upgraded two-piece rotors and of course Hawk performance pads, and fully-functional cooling ducts. As for the interior, the intention was for the car to remain streetable, so Sparco harnesses and a four-point roll bar finished out the inside. The car produces 444 horsepower, and about 380 lb.-ft. of torque in it's stock format and Mesquite speculates the tune, cold air intake and cat-back Borla exhaust may bump it up to about 460 horsepower.
The Boss 302 sounds like an even more potent contender than it did before, but the question is how much experience Mesquite has behind the wheel? "I spent several years competing in karts at out local Sonoma karting track and made the podium three years in a row for the annual endurance race," says Dean. "From there, I was tempted to hit the track in a real car and I have an older turbo look Porsche that proved to be quite a track tool with full RSR suspension and good sticky rubber."
Anyone who has run at track events at Laguna Seca, Thunderhill and Sonoma in recent years may have spotted Mesquite's Porsche at an event or two. "I probably have something close to 50 days in that car," says Dean. "I was craving more horsepower and some good old-fashioned V8 power, so that is what led to the purchase and setup of the new Boss. I will be tempted to bring the old Corvette out in future years, to see if we can compete with the older cars that we are all so passionate about." If he does, we'll be looking forward to seeing that car in action as well!
It's not too late for you to sign up your car to run in the first OUSCI qualifier of the year, especially if you have a late-model Challenger or Mustang that could snag the Showtime Motorsports bounty! Do you think Dean will be able to take the bounty? If he doesn't, will we see you at Thunderhill or some other upcoming event to take a shot at it? See all the upcoming OUSCI qualifiers here and make plans today!