Obsolescence to Obsession – Tales of the Rented Mule (FPRS GT350 Track Attack #14)

Tomster

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I think it was around 1700 bucks - probably a steal, which is why I'm likely to regret not jumping on that one.
That is a steal. I would call them back and tell them you changed your mind.

Edit:
The subsidized transmissions that Ford sold in the wake of the tech pack fiasco were $2500. Look at the retail price of a new one from any supplier.

I have one. It sucks its taking up space, but I don't regret the purchase. I might even buy an engine block while I could as well.

 
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Muligan

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One of our cohorts here was intending to buy the spare transmission - I'll let him bring it up if he did go through with the deal.
 

barstowpo

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Interesting that your car cracked the block with a a flywheel failure. My soon to arrive car #17 also had a flywheel failure and it cracked both the block and the transmission.
 
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Muligan

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Interesting that your car cracked the block with a a flywheel failure. My soon to arrive car #17 also had a flywheel failure and it cracked both the block and the transmission.
I remember instructors telling students to keep it in the lower gear (2nd or 3rd) and to run it up to the redline and hold it there. These cars likely spent lots of time at the tall end of the tach.

As for me, I was shifting at powerband appropriate points.
 

THX 138

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3 transmissions in 16,000 track miles is a little eye-opening... Makes it a little less surprising to me that my 2016 Track Pack is in the shop for a new trans at just over 18,000 miles, somewhere around a third of which were track miles.
 


Carbide

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Great write up. Enjoy! I enjoyed flogging #4 last month at Charlotte Motor. 🙂

4Runners are great rigs. Not great fuel mileage, but rugged and built to last. 180,000 on my '05.
 

Voodoo GT350

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3 transmissions in 16,000 track miles is a little eye-opening... Makes it a little less surprising to me that my 2016 Track Pack is in the shop for a new trans at just over 18,000 miles, somewhere around a third of which were track miles.
I hear you, but these cars were ran so damn hard! When I drove car #13, I pushed it as hard as I possibly could each and every second, I was in it. I ended up in the first group and the instructor got 100% out of myself and the other person in the group. Knowing what I did to the vehicle, I personally couldn't' imagine buying one of these other than for the nostalgic value or to use exclusively to track. That being said they are sweet rides, and it would be awesome to own one!
 

Voodoo GT350

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I drove #13 also this past July. Running the way the instructors told us meant the RPMs rarely dropped below 5000.
I had driven #13 a year before you and the car would struggle to go into track mode. I would imagine it was fixed soon after I had driven it?
 

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Let’s kick this off! I’m the proud new caretaker of G0059 (aka #14… aka “The Rented Mule”), a 2016 Oxford White / Lightning Blue OTT Track Pack GT350 built on Sept 24, 2015, that spent the first six years of its life as a working steed at the Ford Performance Racing School (FPRS) – first at Utah Motorsport Campus in Tooele, Utah and then at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. My plan is to share the ups and downs of buying and tracking a cast-off school car. So, strap in and hold on tight – I have a feeling this is going to be an interesting ride!

This is my third GT350 – the first was H2614 (’17 Shadow Black) which I bought new, but traded-in at Gary Yeoman Ford in Daytona eighteen months later for JR265 (’18 Magnetic base model R – now owned by a good friend). It’s also my second former school car – the first was a 2001 Bondurant Mustang GT (which also stayed nearby as another friend owns it these days – and recently upped its game with a Coyote / T-56 swap).

I began wheel-to-wheel racing in the early ‘90s, then switched to autocross / time trials, eventually track days as they became prominent, and volunteered with NASA as an instructor for a few years. I really enjoyed the FPRS Track Attack experience and learned just how capable these cars are with only a few basic mods. I paid for the liability insurance and proceeded to flog the car, but never reached its limits in the controlled environment of the school – although… ahem…. there was that one little off-track excursion through the gravel at the south cross-over when I turned in a bit early at Agony (east course). When asked by friends if I enjoyed the program, one of my first comments was: “I beat on that car like a rented mule.” Now, that’s not entirely true, as I like to think I have a fair level of mechanical sympathy. But, I definitely drove it much harder than I would the car that was back in my garage at the time. I went away impressed with the GT350s capability and, although I’ve often regretted selling JR265, I knew I’d be back on track someday – and with something I could use as blunt-instrument sort of a tool.

Me and #14 at UMC -
PGP35368.JPG


After a few years away from the track (except for some touring sessions and a couple of actual events), I got back in the market for a track car this past year. I looked at lots of alternatives, but as a committed Ford fan I kept gravitating back to Mustangs and GT350s. Having missed the sale of the Boss 302FPS cars in late ’19, I reached out to FPRS and asked if they’d be selling off any others in the future. My persistence (and constant pestering) paid off when they called in early November and offered me dibs on #14; the same car I drove when I attended the Track Attack program at the end of the ’18 season.

Although I planned on having it shipped, logistical challenges arose and I ended up making the twelve-hour drive to Charlotte with my trailer to bring #14 to its new home. I’m glad it worked out that way, as I really enjoyed the trip. When I arrived early the next morning, Bill Johnson and the FPRS team were very welcoming. I spent a couple hours checking things out, getting loaded, and ransacking the left-over GT350 program items in the gift shop. Having only been to the Utah location, it was nice to get a chance to check out their current digs. The drive home was beautiful – taking me through the mountains of southern and western NC and eastern TN – with my little 4Runner doing an admirable job, thanks in large part to my small and light trailer.

Ready to Leave CMS_12.2.21.jpg


Illinois Rest Area 2_12.3.31.jpg


I’ll be using #14 exclusively for track days, with my eyes on moving up to time trials. So, this'll certainly be a work-in-progress story of buying, maintaining, developing, and campaigning the car. My initial focus will be on making sure it’s safe and reliable for the 2022 season, which will also be my reintroduction to the track. After that, I’ll improve its on-track demeanor through more safety, lighter weight, better aero, improved cooling, and more grip. Through it all, it’ll continue to rock the FPRS livery so that it’s always identifiable as a part of GT350 history.

As a baseline, it’s in great shape for having covered 16,111 miles on track and in the hands of many, many drivers of, shall we say, widely varying skill and sympathy levels. My due diligence included pulling a full copy of the Oasis report (15 pages!!!) and a CarFax, as well as a thorough inspection in-person and discussion with a few of the FPRS people. My initial findings are below – although I’m sure I’ll find more once I get it on the lift and start passing wrenches over it.

Positives –
  • No body damage or past repairs. It’s still wearing the original Flat Rock finish on all panels and presents fairly well. This tells me that the structure hasn’t been compromised; making it a good foundation for my future plans.

  • Gen 2 engine approximately 4k miles ago. The Oasis report describes what happened to the original engine (flywheel had a significant failure, went out of balance, and the extreme vibration at high RPM, as reported by the student, resulted in a cracked block). The engine tag under the driver’s side coil cover identifies the it as a “GT350R” “KA” code version with the “555” calibration code and a build date of Aug 1, 2019 – with the replacement being done about six weeks later by Larry Miller Ford in Utah just before the car was put on a truck for the long ride east to Charlotte. I sorta consider engines in track cars as a wear item, but starting with a Gen 2 is a great advantage for me and will hopefully keep costs down come refresh time.

  • New transmission (actually its second) approximately 4.5k miles ago with a new rear synchro and refresh 2.5k miles ago. Another wear item, so to speak, so I’ll probably regret passing on the new transmission that FPRS offered in the pile of spares. Hopefully this one will be a solid unit for future rebuilds, but I’m sure a second transmission will find its way onto my shelf at some point in the future.

  • Buyers were offered a chance to get spares at great prices, so I grabbed lots of pads, rotors, and calipers, as well as a hub (they threw one in with each car – couldn’t buy more), clutch, and flywheel.



Negatives – (pretty insignificant actually; way less than expected)
  • Subtle “clunk” in the right front corner. Likely a hub, bushing, or other front end component on the corner that took the brunt of stress at Charlotte going onto the banking. My plans include a thorough inspection and refresh of the suspension before next season anyway, so this will be addressed soon.

  • Small chip / star in windshield. It’s an aftermarket windshield, as FPRS said they had to replace them constantly when the cars were in Utah due to the rocky landscape. This’ll get repaired so it doesn’t spread and, if future replacement is necessary, I’ll replace it with an OEM Ford windshield.

  • Sagging rear bumper fascia at the upper corners – very common on the early cars and something I’ll fix when I take it off to install the Ford Performance rear tow hook.

  • There are other minor things, such as the steering wheel alcantara condition, driver’s seat cushion bolster deformation, rock chips, no wheel center caps, etc. that are merely cosmetic and unimportant from the perspective of a track car.

The mods done by FPRS are minimal and pretty much what most owners who regularly take their car to track-days would likely do, including:
  • Watson Racing bolt-in 4-point rollbar
  • Safecraft harnesses for front seats (no anti-sub straps… I’ll add these as the buckles have a slot to accommodate the additional belt)
  • OEM Ford rear seat delete panel
  • ARP wheel studs (long) with open lug nuts
  • Removal of rear seat belts and front belt connectors
  • Maximum Motorsports camber plates
  • Castrol SRF high-temp brake fluid
Overall, it’s the perfect starting point for this sort of a build with absolutely zero surprises so far – in fact, it’s exceeded my expectations. From my perspective, developing #14 into a focused and capable track car is a much better path than the usual alternatives, like starting with a flood car, theft recovery / repo, or accident salvage. Plus, it keeps me from tearing apart a garage queen that has been rubbed with a diaper its whole life and loved by its owner(s).

One of the first things I did, after hauling it home and taking care of the title and registration (all of the school cars came with a Utah title in the name of the school’s business group), was to reach out to Clark Hill at Falcon Graphics and order a complete set of spare decals. The windshield banners, which blocked forward vision on the banking, were removed when the cars were relocated to Charlotte. In order to complete the FPRS livery, I’ll reinstall one of those, add my last name to the windshield, and add a couple of other things that Clark is sending me. Then, I’ll have the rest of the decal package on-hand in case I ever need replacements – either because of age or an incident.

So what’s next? Unfortunately, #14 is second-in-line for now, as my shop is full of a disassembled ’73 Z28 in the process of receiving the pro-touring treatment. Once that is done, #14 will take priority. Even with the other project, I’ll still be doing a bit here and there, including a more in-depth inspection, thorough cleaning, and gathering of parts to be installed before next season, such as anti-sub straps, a fire extinguisher, resonator delete, data acquisition, light weight wheels, air/oil separator(s), tow hooks, and of course changing all the fluids (probably have an oil analysis done, as well).

As for what the future holds, well….. be on the look-out for things like a full cage, fixed shell seats, gutted interior and other weight-saving efforts, internal and external activated fire suppression system and ignition cut-off, FP350S or GT4 level aero, brake cooling, hood venting, fuel cell, suspension, exhaust, and more.
i think i drove the s**t out of that car in Utah...kidding lol d
 

gmuffley

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I had driven #13 a year before you and the car would struggle to go into track mode. I would imagine it was fixed soon after I had driven it?
Apparently it was fixed. I had no problem using track mode.
 

Lorne34

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Can I ask what trailer you are using? I have been looking for the lightest smallest footprint trailer I can get for the 350. I have a 2016 Nissan Pathfinder with 5k towing capacity. I really don't have the room or $ to spend on a dedicated Towing Pickup.
 

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Let’s kick this off! I’m the proud new caretaker of G0059 (aka #14… aka “The Rented Mule”), a 2016 Oxford White / Lightning Blue OTT Track Pack GT350 built on Sept 24, 2015, that spent the first six years of its life as a working steed at the Ford Performance Racing School (FPRS) – first at Utah Motorsport Campus in Tooele, Utah and then at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. My plan is to share the ups and downs of buying and tracking a cast-off school car. So, strap in and hold on tight – I have a feeling this is going to be an interesting ride!

This is my third GT350 – the first was H2614 (’17 Shadow Black) which I bought new, but traded-in at Gary Yeoman Ford in Daytona eighteen months later for JR265 (’18 Magnetic base model R – now owned by a good friend). It’s also my second former school car – the first was a 2001 Bondurant Mustang GT (which also stayed nearby as another friend owns it these days – and recently upped its game with a Coyote / T-56 swap).

I began wheel-to-wheel racing in the early ‘90s, then switched to autocross / time trials, eventually track days as they became prominent, and volunteered with NASA as an instructor for a few years. I really enjoyed the FPRS Track Attack experience and learned just how capable these cars are with only a few basic mods. I paid for the liability insurance and proceeded to flog the car, but never reached its limits in the controlled environment of the school – although… ahem…. there was that one little off-track excursion through the gravel at the south cross-over when I turned in a bit early at Agony (east course). When asked by friends if I enjoyed the program, one of my first comments was: “I beat on that car like a rented mule.” Now, that’s not entirely true, as I like to think I have a fair level of mechanical sympathy. But, I definitely drove it much harder than I would the car that was back in my garage at the time. I went away impressed with the GT350s capability and, although I’ve often regretted selling JR265, I knew I’d be back on track someday – and with something I could use as blunt-instrument sort of a tool.

Me and #14 at UMC -
PGP35368.JPG


After a few years away from the track (except for some touring sessions and a couple of actual events), I got back in the market for a track car this past year. I looked at lots of alternatives, but as a committed Ford fan I kept gravitating back to Mustangs and GT350s. Having missed the sale of the Boss 302FPS cars in late ’19, I reached out to FPRS and asked if they’d be selling off any others in the future. My persistence (and constant pestering) paid off when they called in early November and offered me dibs on #14; the same car I drove when I attended the Track Attack program at the end of the ’18 season.

Although I planned on having it shipped, logistical challenges arose and I ended up making the twelve-hour drive to Charlotte with my trailer to bring #14 to its new home. I’m glad it worked out that way, as I really enjoyed the trip. When I arrived early the next morning, Bill Johnson and the FPRS team were very welcoming. I spent a couple hours checking things out, getting loaded, and ransacking the left-over GT350 program items in the gift shop. Having only been to the Utah location, it was nice to get a chance to check out their current digs. The drive home was beautiful – taking me through the mountains of southern and western NC and eastern TN – with my little 4Runner doing an admirable job, thanks in large part to my small and light trailer.

Ready to Leave CMS_12.2.21.jpg


Illinois Rest Area 2_12.3.31.jpg


I’ll be using #14 exclusively for track days, with my eyes on moving up to time trials. So, this'll certainly be a work-in-progress story of buying, maintaining, developing, and campaigning the car. My initial focus will be on making sure it’s safe and reliable for the 2022 season, which will also be my reintroduction to the track. After that, I’ll improve its on-track demeanor through more safety, lighter weight, better aero, improved cooling, and more grip. Through it all, it’ll continue to rock the FPRS livery so that it’s always identifiable as a part of GT350 history.

As a baseline, it’s in great shape for having covered 16,111 miles on track and in the hands of many, many drivers of, shall we say, widely varying skill and sympathy levels. My due diligence included pulling a full copy of the Oasis report (15 pages!!!) and a CarFax, as well as a thorough inspection in-person and discussion with a few of the FPRS people. My initial findings are below – although I’m sure I’ll find more once I get it on the lift and start passing wrenches over it.

Positives –
  • No body damage or past repairs. It’s still wearing the original Flat Rock finish on all panels and presents fairly well. This tells me that the structure hasn’t been compromised; making it a good foundation for my future plans.

  • Gen 2 engine approximately 4k miles ago. The Oasis report describes what happened to the original engine (flywheel had a significant failure, went out of balance, and the extreme vibration at high RPM, as reported by the student, resulted in a cracked block). The engine tag under the driver’s side coil cover identifies the it as a “GT350R” “KA” code version with the “555” calibration code and a build date of Aug 1, 2019 – with the replacement being done about six weeks later by Larry Miller Ford in Utah just before the car was put on a truck for the long ride east to Charlotte. I sorta consider engines in track cars as a wear item, but starting with a Gen 2 is a great advantage for me and will hopefully keep costs down come refresh time.

  • New transmission (actually its second) approximately 4.5k miles ago with a new rear synchro and refresh 2.5k miles ago. Another wear item, so to speak, so I’ll probably regret passing on the new transmission that FPRS offered in the pile of spares. Hopefully this one will be a solid unit for future rebuilds, but I’m sure a second transmission will find its way onto my shelf at some point in the future.

  • Buyers were offered a chance to get spares at great prices, so I grabbed lots of pads, rotors, and calipers, as well as a hub (they threw one in with each car – couldn’t buy more), clutch, and flywheel.



Negatives – (pretty insignificant actually; way less than expected)
  • Subtle “clunk” in the right front corner. Likely a hub, bushing, or other front end component on the corner that took the brunt of stress at Charlotte going onto the banking. My plans include a thorough inspection and refresh of the suspension before next season anyway, so this will be addressed soon.

  • Small chip / star in windshield. It’s an aftermarket windshield, as FPRS said they had to replace them constantly when the cars were in Utah due to the rocky landscape. This’ll get repaired so it doesn’t spread and, if future replacement is necessary, I’ll replace it with an OEM Ford windshield.

  • Sagging rear bumper fascia at the upper corners – very common on the early cars and something I’ll fix when I take it off to install the Ford Performance rear tow hook.

  • There are other minor things, such as the steering wheel alcantara condition, driver’s seat cushion bolster deformation, rock chips, no wheel center caps, etc. that are merely cosmetic and unimportant from the perspective of a track car.

The mods done by FPRS are minimal and pretty much what most owners who regularly take their car to track-days would likely do, including:
  • Watson Racing bolt-in 4-point rollbar
  • Safecraft harnesses for front seats (no anti-sub straps… I’ll add these as the buckles have a slot to accommodate the additional belt)
  • OEM Ford rear seat delete panel
  • ARP wheel studs (long) with open lug nuts
  • Removal of rear seat belts and front belt connectors
  • Maximum Motorsports camber plates
  • Castrol SRF high-temp brake fluid
Overall, it’s the perfect starting point for this sort of a build with absolutely zero surprises so far – in fact, it’s exceeded my expectations. From my perspective, developing #14 into a focused and capable track car is a much better path than the usual alternatives, like starting with a flood car, theft recovery / repo, or accident salvage. Plus, it keeps me from tearing apart a garage queen that has been rubbed with a diaper its whole life and loved by its owner(s).

One of the first things I did, after hauling it home and taking care of the title and registration (all of the school cars came with a Utah title in the name of the school’s business group), was to reach out to Clark Hill at Falcon Graphics and order a complete set of spare decals. The windshield banners, which blocked forward vision on the banking, were removed when the cars were relocated to Charlotte. In order to complete the FPRS livery, I’ll reinstall one of those, add my last name to the windshield, and add a couple of other things that Clark is sending me. Then, I’ll have the rest of the decal package on-hand in case I ever need replacements – either because of age or an incident.

So what’s next? Unfortunately, #14 is second-in-line for now, as my shop is full of a disassembled ’73 Z28 in the process of receiving the pro-touring treatment. Once that is done, #14 will take priority. Even with the other project, I’ll still be doing a bit here and there, including a more in-depth inspection, thorough cleaning, and gathering of parts to be installed before next season, such as anti-sub straps, a fire extinguisher, resonator delete, data acquisition, light weight wheels, air/oil separator(s), tow hooks, and of course changing all the fluids (probably have an oil analysis done, as well).

As for what the future holds, well….. be on the look-out for things like a full cage, fixed shell seats, gutted interior and other weight-saving efforts, internal and external activated fire suppression system and ignition cut-off, FP350S or GT4 level aero, brake cooling, hood venting, fuel cell, suspension, exhaust, and more.
Nicely written
 

 
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