Quickly, how many NASA Spec classes call for a specific V8 engine? Give up? There’s only one: Spec Iron.

Spec Iron was devised to give late-model Ford Mustang enthusiasts an affordable series in which to race. It represents a step above Camaro-Mustang Challenge and a notch slightly below American Iron, making it a viable go-between offering with all the cost-containment benefits that spec-series racing has to offer. If you’re a die-hard Ford guy, and reliable, affordable racing is appealing to you, Spec Iron might be the series you’ve been looking for.

That said, no racing class comes without broken parts due to fatigue, ham-fisted driving and abuse, right? So, if you’re going to get into Spec Iron racing, it’s important to know what to bring. To get a better idea of what the essential spares are, we reached out to several Spec Iron racers who agreed to share what they’ve learned over the years.

Name: David Luaces
Region: NASA Great Lakes
Car: 2009 Mustang GT Spec Iron
Years Racing: 0.5

Spares List
Front and rear brake setup- pads, rotors and calipers.
Alternator, power-steering pump, serpentine belt.
Front lower control arms, abs sensors, various suspension nuts and bolts, wheel studs and lug nuts.
A full accoutrement of fluids: engine oil, transmission, rear diff and power-steering fluid.

Q: How do you determine what spares you need to bring with you?

A: There’s sort of a known list of things within the Spec Iron group — like brake calipers and abs sensors — and then there are the things that each of us have added to the list based on our own experiences. Front lower control arms and alternator to name just a couple that I’ve needed. Thankfully the parts are readily available at the local auto parts store so you can get back on track pretty easily.

Q: What is one spare part you have needed at the track, but didn’t have with you?

A: A replacement rear end. Had a fender bender at National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in July and the impact on the right rear broke the axle tube loose from the differential housing and I couldn’t get it successfully booger-welded back together at the track. I had to source one after the event. Not sure it’s necessary to haul a spare rear end for these cars, though. That was a random incident. Most people weld the axle tubes to the diff housing so that doesn’t happen, which is what I’ve done with the new housing.

Q: What have you always had on hand, but never had a need for?

A: I haven’t needed the brake calipers yet! They’ll be needed eventually. I hauled a spare transmission to Daytona, but thankfully didn’t need it. Honestly, most of the stuff I have I haven’t needed yet.

Q: How have you built up your supply of spare parts?

A: Literally one piece at a time. As needs arise throughout the season, you identify things for your car or your class that might be weak points and will need a backup. The most important source to start your spare parts buildup is other racers in your class that have been at it longer than you have.

Spec Iron in NASA Great Lakes has an incredible group of guys that are tremendously helpful and incredibly knowledgeable. Jeff Feit and Robin Burnett, specifically, are very well informed on the 2005-2010 Mustang platform. I can’t imagine being in a class without someone who really knows the car. It’s probably one of the reasons the class is growing so quickly. In 2020, there were three regulars at every event. In 2022, we could have 13-15 regulars at every event. It’s the American muscle car version of Spec Miata. Close racing and we have a lot of fun!

Q: How many times have you provided a part to competitors so they can get their car back on track? Please explain.

A: Given this was my first year racing — I earned my racing license in June at Gingerman Raceway — I haven’t had too many opportunities to lend parts, but I’ve loaned control arms and a couple other miscellaneous things. More often than parts, we seem to lend tools or an extra set of hands. Among the group, we’ve got it pretty well covered.

Name: Patrick Roof
Region: NASA Southeast
Car: 2010 Mustang GT
Years Racing: 11

Spares List
Complete front brake assemblies, bolts, lines pads, calipers, pad retention locks.
Rear brake bolts, lines, pads, pad removal tool, case of brake cleaner.
Front and rear rotors.
Three sets of wheels and tires, two dry, one wet.
Three sets of spring rates, front and rear.
Three rear sway bars.
Front sway bar end links.
Front wheel hubs.
Mass air flow sensor, and electrical parts cleaner.
Throttle body assembly.
Spark plugs.
Transmission shifter bolts (I’ve had them vibrate out before).
Throw-out bearing.
Electrical repair kit .
Engine coil pack and spare electrical connections.
Fuel filter.
Oil filter.
A bucket of spare factory bolts, bolts that fit any parts on the car. They do and will vibrate out, so as many as you can find is always a good policy.

Q: How do you determine what spares you need to bring with you?

A: I normally determine what spares I need by experience from things that have happened to me in the past. If it’s something that I’ve had happen many times, I’ll have a lot of spares for that event. Brakes take a lot of abuse, so complete spares are a must.

Q: What is one spare part you have needed at the track, but didn’t have with you?

A: I have needed a mass air flow sensor before I had one on hand at the time. Luckily, many Ford parts we need can be acquired at local parts stores.

Q: What have you always had on hand, but never had a need for?

A: I have a passenger side control arm that I’ve kept on hand, but never needed at the track.

Q: How have you built up your supply of spare parts?

A: I’ve built up my supply over the years by taking the opportunity to visit salvage yards and grab this and that. Also, when you’ve needed something that you haven’t had, you always to try to locate it to add to your stash for the next time. And there will be a next time for sure!

Q: How many times have you provided a part to competitors so they can get their car back on track? Please explain.

A: The great thing about Spec Iron in the Southeast Region, is that all the guys help out other competitors as much as they can, including myself. It happens at every event that someone will need a part that they don’t have. We share and use parts from each other when we’re in a pinch.

Name: Cash Canada
Region: NASA Southeast
Car: Spec Iron Mustang GT
Years Racing: 11

Spare Parts List
Tires, wheels, wheel spacers, wheel studs, wheel hubs, lug nuts.
A arms, tie rods, sway bar end links, ball joints, spindles.
Ccontrol arm/Panhard bar bushings.
Brake calipers, brake rotors, brake pads, brake lines, ABS wheel speed sensors and brake fluid.
Oil, axle lube, trans fluid, power steering fluid, water wetter, (filters, Oil, air, fuel), axle seals.
Power steering hose assembly, radiator hoses.
Spark plugs, radiator cap, thermostat, valve cover, oil filler cap, hose clamps.
Ford OEM spare suspension fasteners and bolts.
Brake duct hose, fuses, wires, extra fasteners, spark plugs.
Four spare trailer tires.

Q: How do you determine which spares to bring with you?

A: By asking “How hard to I want to work at the track and how much time would it take to fix?”

I would not have the time or energy to replace an engine. Worse case is could I fix it overnight? Then I would consider it. Can I fix it in a few hours? Then put it on the spare parts list.

Q: What is one spare part you have needed at the track, but did not have with you?

A: I broke a spindle and did not have one. Steve Poe was kind enough to give me one. I broke a hub and did not have one. Robert Miller was kind enough to give me one.

I broke an A arm and had to order one from the parts house and wait. I needed a thermostat and had to go to town to get one. Trailer tires. I only had two spares and used them both. Now I carry four and have used four on a single trip. I now carry all of these items.

Q: What have you always had on hand, but never had need for?

A: I used to carry a spare rear end assembly, but never used it and decided to leave it at home.

Q: How have you built up your supply of spare parts?

A: Trial and error. Watching what breaks on other cars, my own experience with failure, the likelihood of finding the part at local store when needed, the ease of repair, being a part that would fail in isolation, and the space something takes up. If I can make room for it, replace it easily and may have a difficult time finding it locally in a hurry, put it on the truck. Spark plugs, oil filters, brake rotors, wheel studs, lug nuts and hubs don’t take up much space, are important and easy to replace. Windshields are hard to transport without damage, take up too much space, and are beyond my ability to replace. I hope the windshield man will come to the track if needed. I don’t carry a radiator, because if the radiator was damaged, there would likely be significant other collateral damage such that the radiator would be the least of my concerns. It would not fail in isolation.

Q: How many times and you provided parts to a competitor so they can get their car back on the track?

A: Most every weekend. In the last five race weekends, I have provided to competitors:
November: Control arm bushings, spark plugs, brake pads.
October: Inner tie rod.
September: Brake rotors, pads, brake caliper, brake fluid.
May: A-arm and spindle.
March: Power steering hose assembly.

Name: Matt Shaw
Region: NASA Southeast
Car: 2010 Ford Mustang, Spec Iron No. 404
Years Racing: 3 years

Spares List
I kid you not, these cars are indestructible. If you paint-strip all your bolts and keep up with fluid changes — check between each race weekend — you should feel confident in the car making the weekend. My only true issue I’ve ever had was a rubber radiator hose rubbing on the K member. These are the spares I brought just in case.

Tie rod.
Extra set of rotors and pads.
All fluids just in case (oil, power steering, water wetter/ distilled water, diff fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid).
Extra set of sticker tires (if you want that win).
Rain tires on a mounted set of wheels.
Extra weight for the scales.
ABS sensors. I’ve never needed one but seen multiple competitors with a melted one.

Most anything else that would throw a wrench in your weekend can be found at the local auto parts store. Go over the car prior to the weekend. The car will tell you, like checking front wheel bearings, etc. Do your work on the lift at home.

Q: How do you determine what spares you need to bring with you?

A: Watch your fellow Spec Iron racers. If you see someone under their car ask what happened and take note. Sometimes you don’t have the part, but the group shares. I have to give a shout-out to Phillip Franz at Carolina Motorsports Park when I needed a certain radiator hose, and to Mike Moore for a rear rotor at a Daytona, Fla., regional race.

Q: What is one spare part you have needed at the track, but didn’t have with you?

A: The only time I’ve been SOL was when my transmission casing decided to self-destruct on the Daytona banking giving fourth gear all it had. It was 2021 NASA Championships, so the opportunity to borrow someone’s spare transmission to gut a case was slim pickings. I called my local transmission builder in Atlanta and a good friend drove it down the next morning. We rebuilt the transmission in the parking lot and lined up on the back row for the main race. It was worth it!


Images courtesy of David Luaces, Patrick Roof, Cash Canada, Matt Shaw and Herb Lopez

Join the Discussion