Our own SVO at the Glen

Ford: showing the way!

Top: SVO prototype at Nelson Ledges
Bottom: my own SVO at Watkins Glen the following year when Ford brought the car to market

Watching the SVOs compete at Nelson Ledges was an inspiration to me. At this point in time I had been running open track events for three years and was very tired of all the problems the pedestrian Mustang consistently suffered from - especially cooling and braking. I had driven three older Mustangs around this same track at the same full race speeds and never had enough braking ability. I also drove in open track events at the Glen while it was in receivership during these years. 

Just a few months after the SVO finally came onto the market, I bought my own SVO (at the incredible price of $17.5k 1984 dollars: >8k more than a GT) and debuted it at a BMW club open track event at Watkins Glen - where it handily outran the BMWs in attendance *and* had enough brakes in reserve for an entire weekend (the only time I'd been able to run the entire weekend on the same set of rotors and bearings!). Ford did some of their best work with this car!

I continued driving the SVO at the Glen for two more years, and my experience there peaked with a wild 165-MPH blast down the (uninhibited) back straight. This purposeful top-speed run required required 2:73 gearing and an open side exhaust, including cylinder head modifications and more boost. I can report that the car's aero did not work well at that speed at all, it was nose high.

I typically change cars every couple of years, and I also moved away from upstate New York for good in 1989. In 1993 an opportunity presented itself for a return trip to the Glen with my specially built 1991 Mustang GT. I built the car in the spirit of the SVO, with the same SVO brakes, Recaro SRD seats, Koni suspension, and more. The SVO brake kit worked well by the standards of the time (although brake balance was poor). With racing brake pads that weren't available to us in 1984/6 (we had to rely on Ford police cars for pads in those days), the resulting braking power in this car was a big step up - but given the inherent weight of the V-8, the handling dynamics could never be what they were in the SVO.

I was lucky enough for a photographer to be in the right place at the right time for the picture below.