The 2012 ROUSH Stage 3 Mustang Set-up For The One Lap of America.
(An exclusive interview with Jack Roush, Jr. regarding his driving experiences in the One Lap of America event)
Going into the 2011 One Lap of America, I had great confidence in our 2012 ROUSH Stage 3 Mustang. We ran two of these cars the event — one of them driven by myself and the other driven by Billy Johnson.
Each of these vehicles was outfitted with upgrades and options available on the 2012 RS3 vehicle package available through a ROUSH authorized Ford Dealer. Our strategy for the One Lap event was to enter with vehicles that were essentially right off of the showroom floor. Knowing that we were going up against expensive, purpose-built performance cars made this a risky proposition, but we had faith in the performance and capabilities of our ROUSH Stage 3’s. Finishing #3 and #11 overall gave us a great feeling of accomplishment, and it’s a testament to the power and handling of the 2012 RS3’s.
What type of performance pops into your mind first when you think of a ROUSH Mustang? It’s probably horsepower and handling, and that was a big part of these pony cars. The 2012 ROUSH Stage 3 Mustang features a ROUSH TVS supercharger that brings the total horsepower to 540 at the flywheel, and 465 ft/lbs of torque. We also put the ROUSH Competition Series suspension on the cars. This includes an anti-wheel hop kit, and adjustable coil-overs that we could tune to the particular needs of each track event.
What do you notice when a ROUSH RS3 Mustang drives by? Well, first of all, you can’t help but hear it coming down the road! It’s the sound of our tuned performance exhaust system and the whine of the ROUSHcharger. I usually spot an RS3 with my ears, before I can see it with my eyes. Once an RS3 does come into view, I notice the new graphics colors and designs. We’re offering a two-tone graphics package with a primary color and an accent color. This allows our customers to design their own unique look, while still showing off the highly-recognizable RS3 ‘hockey stick’ design, as some people call it.
Tell us a bit more about the RS3’s handling: Sure. The standard ROUSH Stage 3 suspension system combined with 18-inch wheels have been rated at pulling 1G on the skid pad. For the cars used in the One Lap of America, we used the ROUSH competition suspension system, which is an optional part of the build for this model. On the last day of the event, after the tires had seen over 4,000 of road travel and competition at 12 different tracks, this system pulled 1.1 G on the dry skid pad.
Of course, handling isn’t just about how you can take turns. It’s also about how well you can stop. For the ROUSH One Lap cars, we chose the optional ROUSH competition 6-piston front brake system. These big 6-piston calipers gave us the confidence to really charge into a turn, knowing that we could stand on the brakes and still maintain the performance handling aspects and control of the car.
Okay, now that we’ve listed some of the big performance elements of these cars, let’s list some points on how we prepared the cars for each event:
1. Motor oil. Each day before going on track, we checked the motor oil of our cars. New supercharged engines can go through some amount of oil, especially when run at the limit. Needless to say, you don’t want to run your engine with low oil levels. Our oil blend choice was Motorcraft 5W50 Full Synthetic.
2. Fuel. As you may know, octane refers to a fuel’s ability to resist detonation. When you run an engine hard, the risk of detonation is higher. As a general rule, ROUSH Performance recommends using the highest unleaded fuel available at the pump, with a minimum recommendation of 89 octane. However, for running our Stage 3 Mustangs on the track, we fueled at the track whenever possible due to the fact that tracks often have higher octane fuel than what’s available at a gas station. Put simply, we used the highest octane unleaded fuel that we could find.
3. Engine cooling. Even though our track runs were no more than three laps at the road courses, the engines, as expected, developed a lot of heat. Engine is not only bad for performance, it can also cause the risk of damage or other malfunctions to be higher than it could be. As a result, we opened the hoods on our cars once arriving at the track to let cool air blow across the engine bay. And once a given run was over, we first drove the cars at a slow pace around the pits and then parked them with the hoods up once again.
4. Tire pressure. We typically saw an increase in tire pressure from cold (prior to a session) to hot (right after a session) of 10 psi. Our optimum hot pressure was 42 psi. So, before the typical road
course run, we started with 32 psi. Tire pressure and temperatures are very dynamic and can be greatly affected by the specific scenario that you are about to enter. So, we were constantly observing pressure increases and hot pressures, and planning for what the optimum pre-session pressure should be. The whole exercise on tire pressure is to maximize the tire patch. If you have too little tire pressure, the tires can fall over on themselves and cave in at the center. If you have too much, the tire can crown, pushing the center of the tire outward. Both of these scenarios result in smaller tire patches than what is possible. You want to be exactly in the center of these two extremes.
5. Suspension set-up. The ROUSH competition suspension system is the same system originally used in the ROUSH 427R TrakPak Mustangs. Built from the highest quality components available, this system was developed with over 10,000 miles of driving on both the road and a slew of tracks, including GingerMan Raceway, Grattan, Putnam Park, Autobahn, Road America, Hallet, and Waterford Hills. Here’s how we configured this system:
a. Ride height. We set the ride height of the vehicle to the default center position in the front and one eight of an inch lower than center in the rear.
b. Camber. The integrated front camber plates make it very user friendly without adding any complexity to the parts or the adjustment procedure. Before leaving the ROUSH Performance assembly plant, we set the front camber to as much as possible, which was approximately negative 2 to 2.5 (there was a slight variation between the two cars).
c. Shocks. The kit features adjust rebound settings, with the compression being set to what we found to be optimum, making set-up easier. For driving from track-to-track we set the shocks to 7 clicks off of full stiff. For on-track driving, our typical set-up consisted of one click off of full stiff on the front and two clicks off of full stiff in the rear.
So, what was the result of this package and set-up? We knew that it would do well, but it even exceeded our own expectations. There were two tracks that we could compare these cars against our own #61 Boss302 Mustang that we race in Grand-Am: Carolina Motorsports Park and Barber. At both of these tracks we were just one second off of our race car, and that was with street tires, where our race car times were with slicks. Any way you cut it, that’s pretty impressive!