We love a good father and son bonding story around here—especially if it involves a race between a pair of awesome cars hatched over a glass of bourbon.

And that’s precisely what we got when we sat down to talk with Ian Lehn, founder of BOOSTane fuels. You can catch the full interview in the OnAllCylinders Podcast section or in the podcast player here:

Plus, we’ll also give you some excerpts from the conversation below, complete with some awesome pics and videos too, so keep scrolling.

a group of men posing by sports cars on a roadside
Co-pilots Dan Banks and Chris Lehn (Ian’s uncle) stand on the outside of this quartet, will the father/son duo of Ian and Rick Lehn take center stage here. (Image/Ian Lehn – BOOSTane)


What’s the BOOSTane Origin Story?

“I grew up around racing, working in the garage with the old man, and just fell in love with fixing stuff. That rolled into college and an engineering degree, and I found myself racing there.”

“BOOSTane was spawned out of necessity—I needed a senior exit thesis for my degree. My buddies and I couldn’t really afford race fuel, so I thought ‘Hey, I think I could make our own,” and that essentially became the first generation of BOOSTane additive.

“It’s designed to transform pump fuel into a high-octane race fuel equivalent. Which I guess, by definition, it’s an octane booster. But I’ve always tried to think of BOOSTane as more of a race fuel alternative.

“We were just trying to give ourselves the opportunity to race our cars, and not be restricted by the cost of fuel, the availability of race fuel, and transporting it around.”

Tell Us About the Big Bend Open Road Race

“It’s in Big Bend, west Texas—beautiful countryside. It’s a point-to-point race: 60 miles from Fort Stockton to Sanderson, and then back to Fort Stockton.

“It’s limited to 160 cars in varying classes. There is an unlimited class, but for all the other classes you have a target speed and a tech speed.

“My target speed was 105 miles an hour. So based off the 120 mile total distance, divided by 105 (mph), you can figure out exactly how many minutes and seconds it’s going to take you to complete that race.”

“With all the twists and turns of the race, you’re trying to get as close to that speed—on the dot—as possible.”

Two men in race suits filling up a race car with fuel
In addition to competing in the Big Bend Open Road Race, as a sponsor BOOSTane provided fuel for the cars in the event. (Image/Ian Lehn – BOOSTane)

What Kind of Cars Compete in the Big Bend Open Road Race?

“Most of the cars you’ll see out there are 2010 and newer—probably not even that old. You’re going to see a lot of really new Mustangs, Corvettes, Porsches, Lambos, Ferraris, and GTRs.

“The reality is, it’s a hot race—probably 115 degrees on the starting grid. It’s a hard race to run and it tends to cater more towards newer cars.”

But What Car Did You Run?

“(Laughing) OK, the car that was kind of chosen for me was a 1969 Ford Mustang. It had a 351 Cleveland with a top-loader four-speed.

“It had some pretty cool guts to it, but it had sat and collected a lot of dust. So this thing needed a lot of love to bring up to speed—quite literally.

“We did just about everything. We dropped in a BluePrint 347 Stroker Crate Engine, a new Tremec Magnum six-speed, a Moser rear end, brand new Nitto Tires, new radiator, RideTech suspension, and seats and belts from Status Racing.

“Tommy Keeter with KPE Racing, Brian Havens, and Chase Havens—which, Brian and Chase are a father and son team too, which is cool—helped me build the car.

“It was really nice to be able to call friends—and I truly call them friends—at places like BluePrint, Silver Sport Transmission, RideTech, and Summit Racing to help me with this.”

Vintage Ford Mustang fastback race car on highway
(Image/Ian Lehn – BOOSTane)

Now, What About the Challenge You Made, How’d it Begin?

(Laughing) “Bourbon! That’s what caused this!

(Even more laughing) “Thanksgiving last year, came back home, hanging out with the old man—having a few cocktails—and the age-old debate got started of ‘Who’d win in a race?’

“Dad’s a diehard Ferrari guy. He’s got a Modena 360—and he thinks that thing can probably go out and beat an F1 car. (Laughing, again)

“I said, ‘Listen, take it and I’ll beat you in that old Mustang collecting dust out there.’

“I was overly confident, obviously. And I woke up the next day with a hangover—panicking. I’m in the automotive industry and knew the only way I was going to pull this off was through my network. The first call I made was to Kyle Fickler—a good friend and one of the most in-deep race car guys I know.

“So it was kind of an immediate ‘What do we need to do to the car?’ thing, trying to get it up to speed as quickly as possible.”

OK…Did You Win?

(Long heavy sigh) “I…lost…by four thousandths of a second. It hurt. It hurt really bad.

“The old man tried to be nice and console me a little bit. (Laughing) But I was angry. At the same time though, someone told me that Rocky actually lost to Apollo Creed in the first movie.

“And to be honest, we placed really well in the overall race against the other classes. So the fact that I was the only car pre-2000 that slugged it out with much newer, more expensive vehicles was pretty cool.

“I think it tells a pretty good story about how, with the performance brands that we worked with, what they have to offer in bringing vehicles up to today’s standards. Not only is the car competitive now, it’s just a lot of fun to drive around and do things with.”

Men working underneath a vintage Mustang on a lift
Since it was a scramble to get the car ready to race, now that it’s over, Ian says he’ll continue refining the Mustang to make it more comfortable and easier to drive. (Image/Ian Lehn – Boostane)

What’s Next for BOOSTane?

“The first thing we did after Texas was ship the Mustang up to Washington D.C. for the SEMA Rally.

“Because what a lot of people didn’t realize is that when I raced it from Fort Stockton to Sanderson, I ran on 93 octane pump gas plus our BOOSTane fuel additive. But on our way back, we actually ran a fully synthetic, 100 octane E-fuel, that I formulated based off of repurposed pharmaceutical byproducts, greenhouse gas reclamation, wood biomass—so a true, alternative fuel that’s not ethanol.

“We took it up to D.C. to say ‘Hey look, we’re the automotive aftermarket; we enjoy innovating. Here’s a 1969 Mustang that has no right to be in the conversation of carbon offset, yet here it is—basically competing with a carbon footprint similar to a new electric vehicle.

“What keeps our lights on is our additive technology that transforms pump fuel as high as 116 octane, a real race fuel alternative.

“But the new synthetic fuel is a project that I’ve been engineering for a few years now. I don’t have the budget that Shell or Sunoco have, but I do think it’s work that the automotive aftermarket should be a part of. “

What’s Next for the Mustang?

“The fact that I have that story with my dad and then immediately going to D.C. and being sort of a mascot for protecting our industry—the dang thing already has so many cool stories to it, I couldn’t see letting it go.

“I have a lot of plans: Hot Rod Power Tour, Mustang Week, Autocross events, and hopefully it lands at the SEMA Show in the ‘Future Technologies’ area—which it should be, a 1969 Mustang running on a fully synthetic fuel.

(Laughing) “With all the electric retrofits, you’ll see a big ‘ole V8 representing future innovations.

“So, I’m not getting rid of her.”

two men in race suits posing next to race car with hood open
(Image/Ian Lehn – BOOSTane)


You can hear more from this interview in the OnAllCylinders Podcasts section.

Want to learn more about race fuel alternatives and the future of synthetic fuels in performance applications? Check out the BOOSTane website and see what’s new.


Watch the BOOSTane Battle of the Big Bend on YouTube

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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.