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NMCA Xtreme Street Champion Eric Bardekoff's GT500-Inspired Speed Machine

Posted By: Steve Baur
Photography Courtesy of Eric Bardekoff

The old adage, “Don’t fix what isn’t broken” applies to a great many things, but in the heads-up racing world, if you’re not progressing, then you’re going backwards. In order to stay ahead of the competition, Eric Bardekoff decided to rebuild his entire 2021 NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street championship-winning Mustang for the 2022 season.
 
“I’ve been non-stop on it since we left Kentucky,” Bardekoff said of his off-season upgrades. Truth be told, the project snowballed into a compete rebuild as parts didn’t work with parts and this led to that. The upgrades all started with improvements to the Cobra Jet-spec rear suspension to allow for more adjustability. As part of that process, Bardekoff had Hammer Concepts and Designs fabricate a new 9-inch rearend as well.
 

To facilitate the suspension changes, Bardekoff cut the entire floor out the car from the main roll bar hoop rearward. This also gave him the opportunity to install new carbon fiber wheel tubs and a carbon fiber trunk floor as well for some weight savings.
 
At that point, the New York native decided to update the other end and cut the whole front end off of the car. He rebuilt it using a lightweight chromoly K-member and new front suspension, and bolted new shocks from Ron Galbreath at Afterworks at all four corners, along with new disc brakes from Strange Engineering. He also scored a deal on a pair of matching RC Components 15x12-inch bead lock wheels as well.
 
Between the front and rear suspension, Bardekoff decided to update the roll cage to 25.3 certification specs, and swap in some fresh Optic Armor windows.
 
With new metal work from the inside out, Bardekoff’s Mustang was in need of more than just some touch ups paint-wise.
 
“I painted the cage and had to body work the quarters due to the wheel tubs, so I thought I might as well put a new nose on it,” Bardekoff said of the upcoming exterior makeover. At first, he thought about the new Mustang Mach 1 front fascia, but no one offered a carbon fiber version yet. He thought about going for the GT500 fascia, but initially shied away from it as he knew it was a bit on the heavy side. After going around and considering his options, he ended up procuring a Shelby GT500 front fascia for the car, only to find out that it didn’t fit his front fenders. A new pair of GT500-spec front fenders solved that issue, but then it was time to decide what to do with the hood.
 
“I ended up talking with a couple of people who pushed me to this company that makes an aluminum GT500 hood because the stock hood was too heavy. I wanted to do bolt-on-style hood to make it easy to work on and I finished the hood, had it all painted, and then found out it didn’t line up with the fenders!”
 

This situation led Bardekoff to investigate having a custom carbon hood fabricated for the car, but he ultimately decided to make one himself.
 
“It was a big learning curve,” Bardekoff explained. “I made it windshield length and made the hood vents from scratch. It’s not perfect, but it worked and didn’t fly off the car going down the track.”
 
With all of the body parts sorted out, the EB CUstom Works proprietor was finally able to mix up a custom House of Kolors gray metallic along with his signature blue hue to come up with a fresh GT500-inspired look with a custom look to it.
 

Under the hood is the mildly upgraded and freshened up Coyote engine and Whipple supercharger that took him to one, and almost two, championships last season. The same Proformance Turbo 400 backs up the overhead-cam mill, and Bardekoff reworked his fuel system design to provide for a switch to a front-mounted mechanical pump and fuel cell. While he was up front, he also fabricated a new carbon fiber ram air scoop to feed the Whipple blower.
 
“The goal was to do everything light and I have a lot of ballast I can move around now. The car is pretty much built for Pro 275 at this point,” Bardekoff said of his six months of upgrades. 
 

Once the Mustang was up and running, Bardekoff considered a track rental to test the changes and get the car set up, but decided to drive 20 hours south and enter the Duck X Productions Sweet 16 event.
 
“We got the car pretty close to where we were with the car last year,” Bardekoff said of his time in Georgia. Bardekoff’s best run of the weekend was a 4.640 pass at 149.50 mph. “The new rules put the Whipple combination at the back of the field.” The average elapsed times during the event would suggest he has a valid argument, as several cars clocked 4.4-second runs, and far more settled in the 4.50s at the event.
 
“We’re going to Cecil this weekend to test. “I ripped apart my entire race program to improve it and I got 175 lbs on the 3.8-liter combination and 250 for the 3.0-liter—they need to put it back to where it was last year. We’ll see where the rules go.”
 

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