Domenic Luppino has piloted some of the toughest Ford-powered Pro Street and Pro Mod cars in the country. Back in 2010, his ROCKN03 Mustang was running a twin-turbo Proline 454ci Dart-based small-block and at the time, Oz’s fastest Pro Streeter. Here’s a look back at our feature story on the car from the December 2010 issue of Street Machine.
Domenic’s twin-turbo Mustang — dubbed ROKN03 — is a state-of-the-art turbo masterpiece that currently sits on top of the APSA Top 10 list. To the casual observer it might appear that Domenic came out of nowhere but he’s been working up to it for years now, starting with ROKN71, a tough ZD Fairlane that was one of the quickest True Street cars in the country.
“I actually went 9.95 seconds in the ZD with the bottle on and decided that was too fast without a rollcage, so I moved up to a Pro Street Capri,” he says.
Known as ROKN69, the Capri was no slouch, running a best of 8.35@160mph with 12.5in tyres and a couple bottles of giggle gas along for the ride. Of course Dom wanted to go faster but he knew he’d need more rubber under the back to do it.
But when he sat down with Modified Street guru Joe Gauci, the advice he got was to sell the Capri. After all, why chop up a car that already runs straight and fast just to replace everything?
So Dom sold it and started shopping for a new Blue Oval ride.
“Always Ford, must be Ford,” he says adamantly.
Posting a wanted ad on racingjunk.com turned up a good ’03 Mustang roller already decked out with an NHRA SFI 25.5 spec ’cage (good down to 6.0 seconds) but he needed a donk to suit. That problem sorted itself out a day later.
“David Hance [the first guy to run a six on drag radials] rang me from America saying: ‘Look I’ve got this ’05 Mustang, exactly what you want.’ He missed out by 24 hours but I had no engine, and that’s how we started. I bought the engine, gearbox, turbos, computer, boost controller — the whole lot out of his ’05 Mustang.”
Running petrol-based fuel, David had gone as quick as 6.94 seconds and way faster than 200mph with the combo but Dom was looking to run on methanol so some changes were needed.
“I didn’t want to run an intercooler and I was sick of paying $220 for 20 litres of fuel,” he says.
Back in the US the engine was freshened by Pro Line Racing, which also prepped it to run on methanol. Now there are two sets of fuel rails, with 160lb/hr injectors in one set and even bigger 220lb squirters in the second.
The basis for the motor lies with a Dart Iron Eagle block, bored and stroked to 454ci using a Sonny Bryant crank, Bill Miller Rods, Diamond pistons and a custom-spec Pro Line roller cam.
Ultra Pro SC-1 heads top it off, with a customised Edelbrock SC-1 intake copping around 31psi from the pair of 80mm Precision turbos that peek through the front bar.
But being on the other side of the planet does present some problems in terms of servicing the monster 2200hp combo.
“Because it’s too far to send the engine back to get it freshened up, or if something goes wrong with it, Dandy Engines works closely with Pro Line to service these engines for me,” Dom says.
But we’ve made it all sound much easier than it was. Rather than step straight up to the twin turbos, Dom fitted a tough 422-cube naturally aspirated Ford small-block first. That allowed him to get some track time and learn how to drive the left-hook Muzzy.
“It went 8.90 aspirated. It made 900hp with a sheet-metal tunnel ram and dual carbies. Once I’d learned how to drive the car and got familiar with it, I ripped the motor out and put the twin-turbo 2200hp engine in it.”
With the nuts and bolts of the monster combo sorted, Dom flew Pro Line’s tuning guru, Steve Petty, out from the US of A for the final tuning and set-up of the car. The idea was to debut the Mustang at the Street Machine Pro Street Nationals at Willowbank in March, so he hired the Queensland track for three days beforehand.
“He taught us so much,” Dom says. “There’s nothing worse than a new car. Everyone wants to see it run and there’s so much pressure when you know everyone’s watching you, and I didn’t want that.
“Steve would make me run the car to half track. He said: ‘There’s no point killing the car; I’ll know what the car’s going to run and we don’t have to pack ’chutes — we can turn the car around quickly.’
“That enabled me to get really comfortable with it. I was then running it to three-quarter track, then a little bit further. Then Steve said: ‘When you’re ready, go for it!’”
The result was an impressive 7.03@204mph but Dom admits that was a hard-charging tune and wasn’t Pro Street legal. At the time aftermarket K-members weren’t allowed, although the rules have changed since then.
It did show the car’s potential though, and at the Pro Street Nationals, with a slightly softer tune, Dom swept all before him, winning Pro Street in its debut meeting.
“It’s just phenomenal. A nitrous car will never get close to it and people don’t realise how easy it’s doing it. I was always a nitrous boy, very anti-turbo, until I saw how easily it made power, and it’s bolt-on power that stays on. With nitrous you’ve got to bring bottles to fill up and you’ve got to have the really, really good fuel otherwise you’re going to hurt the engine. The ongoing cost to run nitrous is enormous.
“The turbo revolution side is going to be very big — especially the V8 turbos,” he says.
And he’s not kidding. With a little more than six months under its belt, Dom is already talking about pulling the engine because he wants even more power.
“Ideally I want to run a six with the small-block because no-one has done it yet in Pro Street trim,” he says.
A new engine’s on its way from Pro Line’s workshop north of Atlanta, Georgia. This time it’s a 3000hp 632ci Ford big-block that will really stamp its authority on the Pro Street class.
“If I can run consistent high sixes I don’t think we’ll have to lean on the big-block as much. We’re really killing this small-block; we’re squeezing everything it’s got and the big-block will do it a lot easier.”
While the Mustang is a wild bit of gear, Dom still has a soft spot for the old bronze ZD Fairlane, which until recently held the top spot in the APSA True Street list.
“My dad bought that car brand new when I was born, so it was 1971, and I’ve managed to hold on to it — hopefully I’ll pass it on to my kids,” he says.
Weighing in at 1650kg (3600lb) without driver the Fairlane isn’t exactly a lightweight and Dom used to drive it up to Heathcote every weekend, to race where he could avoid issues with not having a rollcage.
“This was my first race car. It’s got a 440-cube Windsor small-block and a C10. It’s just an aspirated deal and it’s gone 10.60, pipes on and with street slicks. I drove it to the track and drove it home.”
|Engine:||Ford SB 454ci|
|Turbos:||Precision 80mm x2|
|Heads:||Ultra Pro SC-1|
|ECU:||Big Stuff 3 & AMS1000 boost control|
|Injectors:||Two banks, 160lb & 220lb|
|Exhaust:||Custom turbo headers, four-inch dumps|
|Diff:||Strange full-floater, Strange Ultra centre, Pro Gears 3.7:1|
|Brakes:||Strange discs (f&r), dual rear calipers|
|Springs & shocks:||Afco coil-overs (f&r)|
|Rims:||Bogart, 15×4 (f), 15×15 (r)|
|Rubber:||M/T front runners (f), 33×16.5 slicks (r)|
Westernlink Automotive; Andrew Sanders, Specialised Power Porting; Peter Kapiris; Kevin Dennis Holden; Jeff Cutajar; Mark Brew; Pistol Pete; Willowbank Raceway; Frank Marchese, Dandy Engines; Adrian Pascuzzi; Charlie Borg; Browny; Big Paul; Daniel; John & Mick, BBE Transmissions; Steve Petty, Pro Line Racing; Enzo; Michael & Jackie Vee; Manny; Adam Pulitano; Johnny Massara; Joe Gauci.