OUSCI Preview- Karl Dunn's 2007 Parnelli Jones Ford Mustang


It's been so long since we invited Karl Dunn to the 2012 OPTIMA Invitational, presented by Royal Purple and KN, that it feels like we invited him to last year's event. Next to the 2011 Champion, Danny Popp, no one else has had as much time to plan for the 2012 OUSCI as Karl, after he picked up the Spirit of the Event invitation at our very first qualifier of the year, back at the Run to the Alamo event last February.

Karl was driving his limited edition Ford Mustang, of which Saleen built 500 examples back in 2007, to commemorate Parnelli Jones' 1970 SCCA Ford Mustang Boss 302. While these cars came with stroked 281 cubic-inch engines, displacing the classic 302 cubes, Dunn's Mustang has somehow ended up being further bored and stroked to 327 cubic inches and now produces 410 horsepower and 394 lb.-ft. of torque at the wheels. The car weighs in at about 3,350 pounds and can run the quarter mile in 13 seconds flat.

For those of you who are more interested in his track times involving turns, Karl ran a 1:25.76 at Putnam Park back in 2010 and a 1:55.29 at Gingerman last year before he started modifying the car. Since then, he has improved at Putnam Park, running a 1:23.80. What has Karl been doing to his Mustang?

Karl credits Cris Gonzalez and the crew at JCG Restorations and Customs, for their fabrication skill, and technical expertise in taking the Parnelli Mustang to the next level. Kenny Brown Performance provided the AGS 4.0 suspension system, brake module, and aero wing and Full Throttle Kustoms did the engine tuning. Forgeline Wheels supplied their ZX3R alloy wheels and he's running one of our batteries under the hood, as well as a KN filter. Karl tells us a great deal of credit must go to Coach Casey Cronin for the driving lessons and suspension tuning he performed on Karl's car.

It sounds like Karl has spent a fair amount of time tweaking and dialing in his ride, which we think is a very smart strategy. Even though he may say otherwise, we think experience will be on Karl's side, as he has nine events under his belt already, so he knows the format and knows what to expect, which is especially important in the Wilwood Speed Stop Challenge. Karl even knows the Speed Stop has been run in both a straight-line format and one that includes a turn with a slalom (he prefers the latter).

Karl concedes he probably won't score any points in the Lingenfelter Design Challenge, but he fully expects his GPS will compensate for his self-confessed lousy sense of direction and allow him to score the maximum points available in the Detroit Speed Engineering/JRI Shocks Road Rally.

The RideTech Autocross and BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge are where things may get interesting for Dunn. With as many events under his belt as Karl has, he realistically feels he is probably near the bottom end of the fast group of cars or at the top of the next fastest group in the autocross. On the road course, Dunn concedes only having 410 ponies at the wheels is going to hurt him and he has indicated he is making a non-specific "horsepower investment" to address that concern.

The questions we ask whenever we hear such statements are when will these be done and how much testing time will be done afterwards? We ask those questions, because we've watched others in their quest for more power come up with larger numbers on a dyno and an unreliable car on the track, due to time constraints. We only hope that isn't the case for Karl.

We know some of the other competitors we've interviewed for previews are at least somewhat familiar with the field, but none have given us as much information as Karl has on who he thinks will be top contenders. Here it is in Karl's own words-

Mark Stielow has the new car and it might still need dialing. Danny Popp is not driving the Vette this year, but was still fast in the Lingenfelter Camaro at Motorstate. Brian Hobaugh was third last year, and has been constantly refining his Camaro on both road courses and autocrosses. He came in second at the SCCA autocross nationals this year in CP class behind Mike Maier. Brian Finch and Kyle Tucker both have new motors with more hp, and are both very capable of winning. Mark Capner in the Lambo I don't know, but the picture looks like he knows what he's doing, so he's my dark horse. Then there's this guy in a bright orange Mustang, who, when he's not selling hotdogs at the concession stand and stomping on mustard packets, will probably be oiling down on the track. His name is Karl Dunn and with a total of nine events under his belt, he's my really, really long shot. We're talking the Voyager 1.

Will a dark horse emerge at the 2012 OUSCI? You can be there to catch all the action and find out for yourself. If you want to take it all in, buy your tickets today.