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Vaughn Gittin Jr. Gives Us A Glimpse Of Just How Much Wear A Competition Can Have On An Engine

RTR Vehicles S550 Ford Mustang Formula D Vaughn Gittin Jr Penzoil

Have you ever wondered what engine oil looks like when 1,000+ hp race cars are done with it? Thankfully Ford Performance ambassador Vaughn Gittin Jr. decided to give us all a little behind the scenes look at the Pennzoil oil used in the pair of Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-D Competition drift cars prepped for himself and teammate Chelsea DeNofa.

The engines in these Formula Drift monsters have almost nothing in common with your regular run of the mill 5.0-liter Coyote equipped S550 Ford Mustang pony cars. Beneath the hood of the RTR Spec 5-D Mustang lay a Ford Performance / Roush Yates RY45 V8 that kicks out 1,100 hp and spins to an obscene 9,000 rpm. As used in the RTR cars, the RY45 is 455 cubic inches of aluminum muscle that was built specifically for dirt track cars, drag boats, and drift cars. It’s basically just a less exotic version of Ford’s FR9 NASCAR engine without the displacement restrictions.

A357-T6 Aluminum is used for the block casting, it’s the same stuff used in airframes and missile construction. As per RTR, the rotating assembly is made up almost exclusively of Mahle components, the cars are also equipped with a Holley Performance nitrous system.

Pennzoil Platinum Racing 10W-60 is pumped through the oil galleries handling lubrication duty. The oil actually starts life as natural gas before it’s worked into a high performance full synthetic base oil. According to Pennzoil the 10W-60 used in the RTR Ford Mustang has a Viscosity Index of 171. For comparison, traditional mineral-based oils have a VI around 100.

The higher the VI the better the oil is maintaining a boundary layer of lubricating film over a wider temperature range, more specifically, it’s better at resisting degradation at high temperatures. And if you think of a Formula Drift car screaming along at the upper echelon of its rev band, temperature is certainly a factor.

Post-race, the team at RTR drains the oil from both cars and sends it out for analysis, it’s actually incredible how much information your oil can tell you about how your engine is running.

The 10W-60 from the RTR Ford Mustang competition cars shows the presence of lead, which makes sense considering most high-octane race fuels are still leaded. Fuel gets into the oil from high rpm blow-by, according to Vaughn Gittin Jr., and cold start idling that’s common in the paddock area during a race weekend.

Compared to RTR’s previous analysis the aluminum content in the oil has reduced slightly, while iron has stayed the same. This indicates the engine has settled into a consistent wear pattern. Interesting enough the lab was able to notice that the engines are going through heavier cycles of abuse, which is consistent with the doubleheader events FD was running this summer as a result of the pandemic.

So there you have it. Get out there and change your oil.

Written by Michael Accardi

Michael refuses to sit still, he's held multiple hands-on automotive jobs throughout his career. Along with being an investigative writer and accomplished photographer, Michael works for several motorsports organizations.

He was part of the Ford GT program at Multimatic, oversaw a fleet of Audi TCR race cars, has ziptied Lamborghini Super Trofeo cars back together, been over the wall in the Rolex 24, and worked in the cut-throat world of IndyCar.

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