Ten years ago, Greg Seth-Hunter was making the rounds behind the wheel of his blue 1970 twin-turbo Chevy Nova in Outlaw 10.5, competing—along with setting records, and winning races—in the old Pacific Street Car Association.
Greg gained his love of cars from his father and grandfather, two old-school hot-rodders who guided him and always included him when working on their own rides. That upbringing showed him that if he wanted to have a cool car, it was most effective to build it himself.
In the first days of the PSCA, he was racing a back-halfed, small-block ’64 Nova that he had built in his dad’s garage with not much more than hopes, dreams, and a couple of bucks.
“Gosh, I was only like 20 years old when I started that car. I started welding, built the car, and went out and started running it. I didn’t have any money to pay anyone, so I figured I better learn how to do it. So I just did it,” he says.
With the skills he gained from building his own car, soon he was running his own fabrication business, building turbo kits, chassis, and other various items for local racers. Opportunity came knocking, and he answered the door, which set him off onto a convoluted path to where he is today.
“After five years or so, I ended up selling the fabrication shop to Innovative Turbo, and went to work for them for a few years doing turbo kit development and other research and development work for them,” he says.
Subsequently, he went off to start a construction business, mainly landscaping and synthetic grass, which is big business in his home state of California. At the time, Mark Luton of Modular Motorsports Racing was sponsoring his racing efforts in the Nova we mentioned up at the beginning of the article. That sponsorship blossomed into a friendship which has endured the test of time.
If you would have asked him at the time whether he thought he’d be racing a Coyote-powered Pro Mod Mustang, he’d probably have laughed at the idea. Ditto the concept of working at MMR, which has established itself as the home for some of the most insane Ford-based overhead-cam engines in the world.
“Mark was sponsoring my Outlaw 10.5 Nova, and he was helping me out with that. Then it kind of snowballed into ‘let’s build this Pro Mod together’, so we bought his car. Then it snowballed into him asking me to come work here and run the shop, which has led to where we are today,” says Seth-Hunter.
When I attended the Street Car Super Nationals at the end of the 2018 season, I was able to witness Seth-Hunter achieve an amazing feat. He became the first driver to pilot a Ford Coyote-powered vehicle into the 3-second eighth-mile zone on a true Outlaw 10.5 tire with a 3.97 at 195.53 mph blast to crack into the 3s. By the semifinals of the event, he lowered that number to a 3.955 at 194.24 mph in a loss ot event winner Mike Keenan.
While I say that Seth-Hunter’s car is powered by the Coyote engine, it should be mentioned that it is in fact powered by MMR’s version of the Coyote engine, titled the GenX Coyote. MMR’s GenX Coyote-based engine platform is starting to make serious waves at the hands of Ford racers all over the world, and for good reason.
Seth-Hunter and Luton have combined their talents to develop this tall-deck billet engine block. It was designed from the outset to survive the immense cylinder pressures and astronomical boost figures of today’s top-flight race programs while taking advantage of the Coyote’s deep-breathing cylinder head configuration. In fact, the GenX is also finding success in the small-tire heads-up racing categories in the hands of John Urist.
Even with the tall-deck option and maxed out, the GenX engine platform still tops out at 400 cubic inches, which means that it sometimes gives up 400 to 500 cubic inches when competing against a 900-plus-cube nitrous engine in Pro Mod or Outlaw 10.5 competition. And when you consider that Seth-Hunter’s engine displaces only 351 cubic inches rather than the platform’s maximum displacement, his achievement at SCSN becomes even more impressive.
The car, which was purchased secondhand with a different body on top, has been completely redone and topped off with a 2017 carbon-fiber Mustang shell from Five Star Race Car Bodies. Although the Jerry Haas Race Cars-built chassis is considered a Pro Mod—and is raced in Pro Mod trim in the NMCA, with the bigger 34.5x17x16-inch tire—Seth-Hunter was rolling at SCSN with the smaller, more familiar 33×10.5W tire upon which he’s spent so much of his racing career. Not surprisingly, there’s quite a bit of difference between the two setups.
“All of my roots are in Outlaw 10.5 stuff. It’s a big change as you have to change everything in it. We leave the converter the same, but we change the gear ratio, the tire, the four-link, and the tuneup. Also the weight bias; where we put the weight in the car all changes,” he says.
So to think about the fact that he runs NMCA Pro Mod all season and then brings the car back to the West Coast to run in Outlaw 10.5 for one race per year, then cracks off the quickest elapsed time on that tire with this engine… well, that’s extremely impressive to me. Especially because I’m a huge Coyote engine fan, but even more so because the team has proven that not only cam-in-block engines can be successful in the ultra-competitive world of Outlaw 10.5 and Pro Mod heads-up drag racing. Overhead-cam engines have a place, too.
One reason for running in Pro Mod trim in NMCA competition is to be able to share data with MMR teammate Luton, who also campaigns a Coyote-powered Pro Mod and has had fantastic success with his own car. In fact, Luton’s Mustang is the world’s fastest Ford-powered vehicle in the quarter-mile, eclipsing 256.3 mph. So it’s safe to say that the pair have a good handle on what it takes to go fast with one of these setups.
The success has not come without plenty of trial and error, though. The MMR team spends endless hours on the engine dyno and at the track testing and refining the engine combination to maximize results. Additionally, the input they receive from others using the GenX—like Urist—helps them to keep detailed notes on the capability of the engine and its successes. There are plenty of broken parts along the way. Just a quick browse through the MMR website shows many parts which have been developed as a result of failures and other shortcomings of the Coyote platform.
“It’s a little bit difficult to spool the turbochargers with the standard 5.0 engine, so we had to get some cubic inches into it to run twin 88mm turbochargers on an engine with small displacement. The only way to do that was to add stroke, since there’s nothing left with the bore spacing. When you’re running a cast-aluminum block and trying to make 3,000 horsepower, they’re just not built to do it. We were able to fix all of the downfalls with that block, and the GenX was just a game-changer for us as far as reliability,” he sums up.
Of course, no top-shelf racing program like this is ever successful without the support of sponsors, and Seth-Hunter credits several for his success over the years. Manley Performance, Garrett Turbochargers, TiAL wastegates, M&M Transmissions, FuelTech, RedHorse Performance, and MMR all help to make it possible for him. But the most important part of the success equation is his understanding wife Alicia, who has supported his efforts for the last two decades. It’s clear he’ll stop at nothing as he works to blaze new trails with his record-setting machine.