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2001 and 2002 Pontiacs - Just Falcon Around

2001 Pontiac Formula And 2002 Pontiac Trans Am

Justin Cesler Mar 21, 2012
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You've seen them at races before, teams with stackers full of goodies, 30-people crews in matching attire, sponsor logos covering half of their body. Running one car in a class seems to take an act of congress, with 14 people on the radio, a tire guy, a line 'em up guy, a video crew gal, a stand too close to the back bumper to trigger the datalogger guy, a tell 'em how it went guy, and the ever popular, overly cynical that'll never work guy. They have a parking procedure for the color matched golf carts, an engine teardown procedure for in-between runs, and even some sort of strange high-five dance choreographed for after a win. Behind these teams, there's an owner, usually a high-strung, slow-paced older gentleman running the show, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to see his hired gun run a couple rounds while his team switches expensive parts for other expensive parts. This guy arrives late, flies out as soon as it's over, and couldn't tell you an LSX block from a hole in the ground, unless of course you asked him how much it cost. These guys usually also own shops, which according to them are high-stress money pits that take 26-hour days to keep running and are filled with annoying customers (you and I) that caused all of their hair to fall out. But that's what it takes to run a competitive race car these days, right?


Meet Paul Falcon and Ted Timmerman, two of the most passionate LSX enthusiasts we've ever had the chance to talk to, who also happen to be running right near the top of the LSX Real Street ladder, in two different cars! These guys have done it all in the LS game, literally attending almost every LS event ever held, including the original LS1Tech races and almost all of the NMCA LSX series, including the very first race that took place in Memphis in 2007, where Paul took home the 11-second win in True Street. Just last March, Paul and Ted finished First and Second in Bradenton, taking the top spots in the up-and-coming Real Street class, with one of the cars having never even been tested before. But if you don't know these guys yet, don't feel bad. It's probably because they don't actually do any of the things that those annoying big time teams do (except for that little part about winning). They are just a couple of down to earth guys who are much more likely to be telling jokes, smiling proud, and riding scooters around the pits in between rounds then to be installing spare engines in a million dollar stacker trailer.

To understand how these two jokers got here, we've got to step back in time a little. "I began building hot rods in my backyard in the early '90s. In 2000 I decided to get off my back and went to work in a speed shop, and that's when I began working on LS1s. A customer (Chris Skelton) brought in a new '01 Formula WS6 Ram Air with just 22 miles on it and he wanted to have the car built for the new LS1Tech races. When we finished the car, he went to the LS1Tech race and took the Runner-Up spot. After building and driving that car I was hooked on LS1s. So I bought myself a '98 TA..." You can guess how it went from there and you would be correct in assuming that Paul was fast right out of the gate. So fast, in fact, that he decided it was too slow (typical, right?) and started looking for a new car that he could build to go racing with the big boys.

As Tim tells it, "Paul found ‘BigBird' on Yellowbullet.com as a roller with a six-point cage and mini-tubs, and as soon as I saw the pictures I knew we had to have it. Paul and I drove non-stop from North Carolina to Indiana and back to pick the car up. Little did we know that it was one of the FBI seizure vehicles from Ronnie Duke's little misunderstanding with the federal government. There wasn't much good on the car besides the cage and tubs, but it was a 2002 Collectors Edition Trans Am (CETA) convertible! The car was completely stripped on the interior to include no dash, no steering column, no door panels..." and with no engine or transmission, the two friends had a lot of work ahead of them. But they had a plan and they were going to stick with it and build a single car to compete in X275 classes across the country. One car, two guys, and a single goal in mind, what could go wrong? Fate it seems... "Then the 2001 Formula found me again..." says Paul, to which Ted added, "Paul couldn't resist purchasing the car due to the fact that it was a super-low-mileage, super-light-weight car that he knew all of its history, hell I couldn't blame him a bit." And so it was, the new plan including two cars, two drivers, two completely different drivetrains, and a whole new look on racing in the big leagues.

Let's start with Ted's newly acquired '02 CETA convertible, which was the first project that the pair really started on. "After procrastinating for several months, we thrashed like never before and pulled multiple late nights and quite a few all nighters." Being a long time turbocharger enthusiast and having a couple of turbo projects under his belt, Ted's CETA build began with a killer S475 turbocharger from Borg Warner. With a "race cover" and a billet wheel (cast wheel for the local racing), Ted knew that the little 75mm wheel could support a ton of power, so he was careful to build a system himself that would work perfectly on the car. For the engine portion of the build, Ted teamed up with Blanks Performance and Paul, who built him a fortified 370 cubic-inch iron block engine, using a set of Callies Ultra connecting rods spun on a matching Callies crank and a set of Diamond 10:1 pistons. Topped with a set of All Pro cylinder heads featuring 2.08-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust valves and a top secret hydraulic roller camshaft--what, you didn't think they were going to give up the specs on that bad boy, did you--Ted's engine is actually pretty mild for a "race motor," but it's clearly working well as evidenced by the 154-mph trap speeds and 1,000-plus horsepower numbers. Up top, Ted kept it simple, using a stock LS2 intake manifold, a Wilson 90mm throttle body, and a set of stock "truck" ignition coils. Fuel comes from the typical cast of characters, with Weldon providing the flow and a set of 80 lb/hr injectors controlling the pulse in the cylinders.

On Paul's side, he too was hard at work getting an engine program together, although unlike Ted, Paul wanted to go down the nitrous path, choosing to make his horsepower from a set of 82-jets stuffed in a Nitrous Pro Flow plate system. Now, if you thought Ted's motor was mild, just wait until you read what Paul uses to run an 8.68 at 153 mph. Starting with an old LS3 block, Paul had Kevin Blanks of Blanks Performance machine, hone, deck, and balance the engine using a Scat 4.00-inch crankshaft, a set of matching 6.125-inch connecting rods, and a set of high compression pistons from CP. What the pair ended up with was a 420 cubic-inch aluminum mill that would make the perfect bottom-end for a nitrous combination. Up top, and this may be the craziest part of all, Paul chose to install a set of ported 243-casting GM cylinder heads, which feature 2.08-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust valves and Comp Cam's adjustable rocker arms. With a slight cut to the deck surface and a quality head gasket, Paul's motor sits at 13:1 compression, and with the installation of another top secret hydraulic roller camshaft, the engine was essentially complete, except for the addition of an Edelbrock Super Victor EFI manifold and a 1,000-cfm single throttle body.

Engines aside, both the CETA and Formula are very similar in the rest of the drivetrain department, with nearly identical combinations found aft of the flexplate. Both drivers rely on the simplicity and dependability of a Powerglide two-speed transmission, Ted's coming from Mike Graham of Virginia Speed Race Cars and Paul's being a used unit he purchased online. Ted's sporting a 4,000-rpm stall converter from Ultimate Converter Concepts while Paul is on a 4,500-rpm unit from PTC. All the way out back, both cars feed power to a set of 3.73:1 gears stuffed inside 12-bolt rear end housings, with 33-spline axles and a spool in each. Strange Engineering brakes front and rear for both cars help them stop safely, although Ted upgraded his to a set of dual caliper rear brakes to help the turbo spool in the beams. Just like everything else, nothing in the suspension is high-dollar or unnecessary, with Paul's Formula using a set of QA1 shocks and springs to plant the power, while Ted uses Strange fronts and QA1 rears. Remember, the power of a dual car team is being able to share knowledge, so having similar setups is actually an incredibly smart idea, not to mention the ability to share parts in between rounds if one car stays in competition longer than the other. Wheels, as you may guess, are from Weld Racing (although Paul recently acquired a set of Champion Cap 5's for the rear of his Formula) and both cars leave hard on a set of Hoosier 275/60/15 drag radial tires.

How hard are we talking? Paul takes the first 60-feet for sure, with incredible 1.21-second sixty-foot times, many of which have taken Paul's Formula directly on the back bumper. Ted's not too far behind in his turbo entry, logging short times in the 1.34-second realm. On the big end, the gap remains about the same, with Paul clicking off the clocks in just 8.68-seconds, Ted just a fender behind him at 8.78-seconds, although several miles per hour quicker. Unfortunately, it hasn't been smiles and fun at the track for the LS1Excitment camp last year, although you would be hard pressed to know it by seeing them in the pits.

"After all was said and done we had essentially built the car and made it to Bradenton with two cars, but one of them had never been down a racetrack before. We still managed to finish First and Second for the event. Unfortunately we destroyed the motor in the finals in BigBird. Then in Atlanta we grenade'd a turbocharger. At the Holley LS Fest I raced Adam Preston in the second round, enough said. [Adam went on to win the LS Fest.] And then in Indy we believe that we overspun the poor little 75mm turbo and killed another one. Only made it to two local Real Street races due to aforementioned failures." Of course, Ted closed out his thoughts by saying, "You better believe we learned a few things and we will come out swinging in Bradenton in 2012," and we don't have any doubt that these partners in crime will be swinging for the fences. Just two down to earth guys on a mission--no high-dollar crew or fancy team jackets in sight.

Data Files

Car: 2001 Pontiac Formula
Owner: Paul Falcon
Block: LS3, 420cid
Compression ratio: 13.0:1
Heads: LS6/LS2, ported by Patriot Performance, 2.08 intake, 1.60 exhaust valves
Cam: LS1Excitement custom hydraulic roller
Rocker arms: Comp Cams adjustable, 1.72:1 ratio
Pistons: CP, forged
Rings: CP
Crankshaft: Scat, forged
Rods: Scat, forged
Throttle body: Edelbrock, 1000cfm
Fuel injectors: 42 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Walbro 255lph, in-tank
Ignition: Stock coil-near-plug, NGK9 plugs
Engine management: Stock, tuned by Ted Timmerman at LS1Excitement
Power Adder: Nitrous Pro Flow wet nitrous system
Exhaust system: Kooks 2-inch long-tube headers, Burns 3.5-inch mufflers
Transmission: Powerglide
Converter: PTC 4500-stall
Driveshaft: PST 3-inch, steel
Front suspension: PA Racing K-member, Billingsley lower control arms, QA1 double-adjustable shocks, springs, removed sway bar
Rear suspension: Spohn adjustable torque arm, Billingsley lower control arms, BMR adjustable Panhard bar, QA1 double-adjustable shocks, stock V-6 springs
Rear end: GM 12-bolt, 3.73 gear, 33-spline axles, Richmond spool
Brakes: Strange Engineering, front and rear
Wheels: Weld Racing III 15x4 front, Champion Cap 5 15x10 rear
Front tires: Hoosier 28x4.5
Rear tires: Hoosier drag radial 275/60/15
Fuel: 112-octane
ET/mph: 8.68/153
Best 60-ft. time: 1.21
Mileage: 616

Car: 2002 Pontiac Trans Am
Owner: Ted Timmerman
Block: LQ9, 370cid
Compression ratio: 10.0:1
Heads: All Pro 245cc, 2.08 intake, 1.60 exhaust valves
Cam: LS1Excitement custom hydraulic roller
Rocker arms: T&D Machine, 1.8:1 ratio
Pistons: Diamond, forged
Rings: Total Seal
Crankshaft: Callies, forged
Rods: Callies, forged
Throttle body: Wilson 90mm
Fuel injectors: 80 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Weldon DB2025, in-line
Ignition: Stock coil-near-plug, NGK9 plugs
Engine management: Stock, tuned by Ted Timmerman at LS1Excitement
Power Adder: Custom single turbo system, Borg Warner S475
Boost: 20 psi
Blow Off Valve: Tial 50mm
Wastegate: JGS 60mm
Intercooler: Custom air-to-water
Exhaust system: GM truck manifolds, 2.5-inch hot side, 4-inch downpipe, no muffler
Transmission: Powerglide
Converter: Ultimate Converter Concepts 4000-stall
Driveshaft: PST 3.5-inch, aluminum
Front suspension: BMR Suspension K-member, lower control arms, QA1 double-adjustable shocks, springs, removed sway bar
Rear suspension: BMR adjustable torque arm, lower control arms, Panhard bar, QA1 double-adjustable shocks, stock springs
Rear end: Moser 12-bolt, 3.73 gear, 33-spline axles, Moser spool
Brakes: Strange Engineering, front and rear
Wheels: Weld Racing Alumastars 15x4 front, 15x10 rear
Front tires: Mickey Thompson 28x4.5
Rear tires: Hoosier drag radial 275/60/15
Fuel: 116-octane
ET/mph: 8.78/157
Best 60-ft. time: 1.34



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