Sameen getting her corner carving on. Photo by Marc Figgins Photography

Cindy Duncan has been an avid Solo driver for many years. One thing about her personality that is absolutely infections is her positive attitude and huge smile. She never stops challenging herself, pushes herself through a variety of health issues and car woes to always make it out to grid. Hugely active in region, she’s really what embodies the spirit of solo. In 2016 she won the FSL Championship and was crowned the SCCA Driver of the Year. . She was also the recipient of the SCCA’s Wendi Allen Scholarship which offered her the ability to do a variety of different events. It gives me great pleasure to offer you this month’s Featured Domestic – Cindy Duncan’s F-Street S550 Mustang. Cindy won the coveted National Championship this year (2018) in FSL, making it the second in the car. 

aj: What type of car do you have (mod list later on in the questionnaire)?

2016 Ford Mustang GT Premium with Performance Package.

aj: A lot of people give their cars nicknames/actual names. Do you have one for yours?

The car is named Sameen.  It came from a TV character that is a special ops assassin and has no regard for people’s feelings.  

aj: Mod List! Let’s have it!

Fairly small list really.  I like to stay in street class because of the “somewhat limited” budget spending.  I have 2 small kids and a house to keep up with! In street class you spend your money once and then add tires, and compared to prepared and modified classes where you have to keep up with the next guy, it’s somewhat easier to manage.  

Rubber ducky? Here’s Cindy piloting Sameen through the course in very tricky wet conditions. Photo by Rupert Berrington

The big downside is manufacturers keep making cars better each year, so 2-4 years seems to be the shelf life for many street classes.  My car is already nondesirable for FS compared to say the Camaro SS or the E92 M3. 

It has a Borla S Type cat back exhaust, mostly to save 40 pounds of weight off the factory parts, plus the V8 really comes to life with great sound.  For suspesnsion, I opted to use the Koni Sport yellow single adjustable shocks as I’m on a budget, but they work well for the car.  To help the car rotate through corners, a rear sway bar makes a big difference in these cars so I went with a no longer offered Stranoparts 3 way adjustable rear sway bar! Using Ford’s FSM alignment allowances, my long time mechanic Michael Fitzgerald has been able to dial in this beast to make the best balance. OZ Leggera wheels weighing in at  22 pounds each wrapped with 285/35/19 Bridgestone RE71R square complete the setup.  Opting for the OZ’s reduced unsprung weight by staggering 11 pounds a wheel!

Oh hey that plate looks pretty familiar!

aj: Mustangs aren’t really what you would consider the sharpest handling of vehicles, but the new chassis seems to be doing quite well in a variety of trims and classes. Given that you have experience with a ESP Prepped GT500, how does the new chassis fare in comparison?

I had a 2013 V6 Performance Package I ran before this.  At 310 horsepower, it fared well locally, but couldn’t keep up with the V8 cars in FS.  The biggest difference I notice between the stick axle Mustangs and the IRS on my current car is its ability to maintain controllable composure when put into bumps, dips and off camber situations.  The non-IRS cars will actually hop straight up in the back and land at some random sideways area when you get them over a bump or dip.  Sometimes this doesn’t cause issues, but it definitely has put my cars in the wrong places when the sites have been extreme.  The IRS just adapts and flows.  It is much easier to put it into a slide the rear, squat and go kind of maneuver. I also feel like I can roll into the throttle much quicker with the newer car.  Sweepers and slaloms feel much more planted as well.  I think if prepared to real ESP levels, the S550 would be a top ESP contender over the older cars, granted it could shed pounds.

aj: Let’s talk suspension. What do you think is one thing the car could do better (i.e. sweepers, hairpins, transients)?

I think the cars biggest issue is probably its significant body roll.  When under acceleration, it actually looks like a boat going to plane.  Brake hard and the rear is in the air.  Much about how I approach a course has to do with managing the weight transfer.  It will slalom like it was born to, but it could be so much crisper in extreme transitions if it was sprung a bit stiffer.  Ford made a comfortable street car with great handling but kept the comfort a top priority.

aj: What was the biggest “surprise” or obstacle you faced when you/your mechanic worked on the car (as in what was maybe supposed to have been an easy task but ended up being a pretty huge undertaking)?

Sameen has been fairly easy to work on.  The sway bar location to the rest of the components is way more complicated than it has to be.  The end-links are a bit frustrating to get loose and require decent strength or impact tools.  So I just set it and work around it mostly. 

 

Beware ye crowds! Mustangs afoot!

The front strut lower bolts are blocked by the large Brembo calipers, but my suspension go-to guy, Mike, seems to have this figured out now.  

 

aj: Do you data log at all? What kind of data-logging system do you use? How easy was it to integrate the software into the OBDII system of the Mustang?

I have been consistently using a Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 with OBDII input, but that is only good for lessons learned after the event.  I started dabbling with using a friend’s SoloStorm setup for a few late-season events and Nationals.  The instant ability to see what you are doing with regard to speed and throttle input on course is valuable.  Especially with my car having such a poor second gear, it runs out at 59mph and I am always second guessing where or if I need to use third.  Data helps me see where it is running out and how long I could use the next gear.

aj: What would you say the car’s primary strength is?

Torque.  And all the torque now.  It can dig itself out of holes in a hurry.  It’s also useful for just the right throttle steer.  

aj: Are there any sponsors you would like to acknowledge for their assistance in getting your car to the way that it is?

Andy’s Auto and Truck Accessories has always had my back for help with all my vehicles.  This year, they helped with tires for Nationals and even on site support since the owner was there when I needed some trim fixed.

LMS-EFI.com is the company of longtime friend Chris Ludwig.  He has helped acquire parts at great prices, namely my Borla exhaust.  And has made it clear he can help with most other parts needs.

aj: As most of raced cars undergo continuous changes, what are the next plans for the car?

Plans are to continue to enjoy it.  I may try adding a X-pipe to the factory exhaust to replace the resonator to see if that might me a quieter street option with weight savings, but that’s the only thing I’ve run through the thought process.