APEX Race Parts Ford & GM Brand Manager

Cory Smetzler: Ford and GM Brand Manager, Solid Rear Axle Junkie, Pony Car Expert

Cory and I first met during our College days before I started working for APEX. We both attended Washington State University in Vancouver, WA, and found common ground in our passion for cars. While I have known Cory longer than the rest of the APEX team, our recent trip to SEMA allowed us to share some previously untold stories. During the time Cory and I spent exploring the show and chatting about the industry, it became obvious that APEX’s continuous growth in popularity among the domestic car enthusiast community was directly tied to Cory’s dedication and enthusiasm for those markets.

As APEX’s Ford and GM Brand Manager, Cory paved the way for new developments within the Mustang and Camaro markets. Most notably, Cory has been hard at work on our highly anticipated Corvette wheel fitments, which we plan to release in 2020. As an avid enthusiast himself, Cory is at the track and on the forums regularly engaging with those in the domestic car community. Not only does this give him the chance to interact with these communities daily, but it also allows him to work directly with enthusiasts to better understand their wants and needs out on the track as well.

Even though Cory is the youngest member of the APEX team, he also happens to be one of the more experienced individuals when it comes to performance driving. Growing up, Cory’s father was, and still is, a big-time Ford enthusiast with a passion for drag racing. When he was younger, his father would take him to watch big-block muscle cars blast down the quarter-mile. Being exposed to the sights and sounds of the drag strip as a kid led Cory to develop a passion for motorsport at a young age.

From the moment Cory was able to drive legally, he was out at the drag strip in his first car, a 2006 Ford V6 Mustang. His first track day was at Pacific Raceway in his father’s Shelby GT500, a car that Cory has spent numerous hours helping build into the brute that it is today. The combination of an intimidatingly powerful car and a challenging course made for an unforgettable first track day experience. From that point on, Cory’s interest in drag racing transitioned to a full-on passion for attacking corners.

This new-found hunger for handling over straight-line speed led Cory to build his 2006 V6 Mustang into a budget track car. After pulling the original drivetrain out of the car himself, Cory swapped in a built 3-valve 4.6 liter V8 mated to a Tremec 3650 transmission, which sent power to an 8.8 Torsen rear end. With a few suspension and safety upgrades thrown into the mix, Cory continued to track his V8 swapped Mustang until he sold it to purchase his 2011 Mustang GT track car that he still owns today.

When I asked Cory about what pushed him to purchase his current Mustang, he told me that it was simply too good of a deal for him to turn down. Cory’s 2011 GT was not built with the same budget restrictions as his previous Mustang and included a plethora of high-end parts with the purchase. Of the modifications that were installed by the previous owner and the ones he has installed since taking ownership, Cory told me the MCS dampers, and Essex AP brakes are by-far his favorites.

While Cory has since moved on from going to the drag strip on his own, he still attends drag racing events such as Shift Sector with his father from time to time. Living in the Pacific North West, the logistics involved with attending HPDE’s further south has always posed a challenge for the two of them. Between steep mountain passes and long stretches of high desert, most people would be content with waiting out the Washington rain for the driving season to start back up in the summer. Well, Cory and his Dad aren’t like most people, or even like most enthusiasts for that matter. Their dedication to attending as many events as possible has led them to become seasoned veterans when making the long trek down the West Coast. Armed with a two-car trailer and a dually F-350 to tow it, Cory and his Dad regularly load up their two Mustangs and tackle the 12+ hour trips as if it was a leisurely Sunday drive.

I could see how Cory’s passion translated well into his role at APEX. The stories he shared at SEMA highlighted his experience in various styles of HPDE’s along with his background in wrenching on cars both as a technician and an at-home DIY’er. From drag racing a V6 Mustang in high school to regularly attending driving events all along the West Coast in his S197 GT track car, Cory’s devotion to his passion is second to none.

If you would like to learn more about Cory’s Ford Mustang GT track car build, click here.

If you would like to see Cory’s Ford Mustang GT in action at Laguna Seca with the rest of the APEX team, click here.