• The $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack Makes the Mustang Shelby GT500 Slower

Don’t buy the Carbon Fiber Track Pack if you want to take the Shelby GT500 drag racing!

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The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is available with a Carbon Fiber Track Pack that makes it look meaner thanks to a GT4-spec rear wing. It also makes it lighter thanks to the carbon-fiber wheels, carbon-fiber dashboard, and rear-seat delete, as well as more agile on the race track.

On the other hand, it seems that this bundle makes the GT500 slower in a straight line. So if you’re planning to race your GT500 at the drag strip, save yourself $18,500 and stay away from the Carbon Fiber Track Pack.

The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber is the main culprit

The $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack Makes the Mustang Shelby GT500 Slower
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Carbon-fiber components decrease curb weight and help a car run the quarter-mile quicker, so the bundle could actually help, but it’s the tires that come with this package that slow the GT500 down. The GT500 is fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires as standard, while the Carbon Fiber Track Pack replaces them with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber. And according to Car and Driver, the Shelby GT500 is slower with the latter.

The difference becomes noticeable as soon as you hit 30 mph from a standing start. While the GT500 equipped with the Sport 4S tires gets there in 1.6 seconds, the Cup 2-fitted car needs 1.7 clicks.

The $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack Makes the Mustang Shelby GT500 Slower
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The gap doubles from 0 to 60 mph, where it’s 3.4 versus 3.6 seconds. The same 0.2-second gap maintains toward 100 mph, a speed reached in 6.9 seconds with the Sport 4S tires and in 7.1 clicks with the Cup 2 rubber.

When it comes to a full quarter-mile run, the GT500 fitted with the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires crosses the line in 11.3 seconds at 132 mph. When equipped with the Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, the muscle cars takes 11.4 seconds at 132 mph. As you can see, trap speed is identical, but the Sport 4S rubber makes the GT500 a tenth-second quicker. It might not sound like a lot, but a tenth-second is huge in a drag racing championship.

Why is the Shelby GT500 slower with Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires?

The $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack Makes the Mustang Shelby GT500 Slower
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It is strange that the GT500 is a bit slower with the more expensive, high-performance tires, but there’s a solid explanation for that. Car and Driver reached out to Ford and GT500 development engineer Steve Thompson explained that "it’s not atypical to see a PS4S equal the Cup tire or go a bit faster."

Thompson argues that the Sport 4S’s thicker tread blocks hold heat better than the Cup 2, which improves traction off the line. He also says that even though the Sport 4S is a street tire, it was designed with occasional drag racing in mind.

Does this mean that the Cup 2 tires suck and you shouldn’t even consider them? Not exactly. These optional tires were in fact optimized for lateral grip and race track use, so they will deliver peak performance on the Nurburgring and Laguna Seca, not at your local drag strip.

The $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack Makes the Mustang Shelby GT500 Slower
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All told, if you're planning to drag race the Shelby GT500, you're better off without the Carbon Fiber Track Pack.

This will save you a solid $18,500, which will cover fuel, replacement tires and parts, and entry fees for several drag racing events. But if you want to take the GT500 to the race track, than yes, the Carbon Fiber Track Pack is the best way to improve lap times.

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

The $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack Makes the Mustang Shelby GT500 Slower Exterior
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The latest Shelby GT500 was unveiled for the 2020 model year with a new Predator V-8 engine. A supercharged, 5.2-liter unit, the Predator cranks out a massive 760 horsepower and 625 pound-feet of torque, the most for any factory-built Mustang to date. Fitted with a menacing body kit, the GT500 is also the quickest Mustang to date with a 0 to 60 mph sprint below 3.5 seconds. The GT500’s top speed is limited to 180 mph. That’s lower than the previous model, but still impressive. The Shelby GT500 starts from $72,900 as of December 2020.

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 specifications
Engine Size 5.2-liter
Forded Induciton Super Only
Horsepower 760 hp
Torque 625 LB-FT
Top Speed 180 mph
Weight 4,225 LBS

Source: Car & Driver

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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