While the new-for-2019 Mustang was a logical move for the Kellys to replace their ageing Altimas, putting together an engine program was a major hurdle.
DJR Team Penske has an exclusive relationship with its supplier Mostech, while discussions with Tickford Racing are understood to have stalled over cost.
With no previous experience of Ford motors, Kelly Racing co-owner Todd Kelly says a shortcut was needed to help get up to speed for 2020.
SBR ran Fords until the team was sold to Betty Klimenko at the end of 2012, with versions of the motors subsequently used in Matt Stone Racing Super2 and Super3 cars.
The Ford engines and associated Intellectual Property are now owned by Jimmy Stone, who is helping Kelly Racing with its switch.
“It’s going to be a lot of work,” Kelly told Supercars.com of Kelly Racing’s Ford engine program.
“We don’t have a lot of time and we need to really nail the engine in our first attempt, because we’ll only just have them finished in time for next season and there won’t really be any opportunity to track test and then revise ports and manifolds and things.
“We’ve got a headstart with the IP off Stone Brothers, just for their water pump and manifold and bits and pieces, but it’s obviously pretty old technology.”
Kelly tested a Super3-spec SBR engine on Supercars’ category dyno in Queensland before committing to the Mustang project, getting a read on its performance.
One of the complete SBR donks will now be used by Kelly Racing as a dyno test mule as the team develops its own updates for the 2012-spec package.
“We’ll basically need to update it with what we’ve learnt with our Nissans and our Holdens before that, and then get an engine together and on the dyno,” he said.
“We’re planning on having to update the port and spend a fair bit of time flow bench testing and messing around in CAD [Computer Aided Design].
“Basically we’re taking their manifold and using it as a starting point to design our own.
“That’s kind of all it is, a good headstart, but not anything we can instantly start replicating as our spec.”
Although creating a major workload, Kelly says doing an in-house engine program is the best option for the team.
“What it would cost another team to supply them to us and gear up to do it, we could do that ourselves and own them,” he said.
“As nice as it would have been to be able to do a deal and have things turn up in boxes, it was not affordable.
“Really the only way we could afford the conversion [to Ford] was to take it all in-house.”
Kelly Racing’s engine shop will handle Ford and Nissan engines next year, with the squad set to field two Altimas in Super2.