Photo Credits: Chris Mohring, www.coolracephotos.com
NHRA‘s Super Stock Eliminator is filled with unique cars and engine packages that must conform to a particularly strict set of rules that have been scienced out by NHRA over the last several decades. Competing in Super Stock is a labor of love, as the class is defined by a ratio of vehicle shipping weight and horsepower factor depending upon which engine is selected for use. Gains are hard to come by, and racers strive to run as far under the class index as possible using the required parts.
John Stock’s Cobra Roadster is legal within NHRA guidelines, but he faced a number of speed bumps in getting up and running. As he says, “About 12 years ago after watching the Hemi Challenge at Indy I sat down with my big red binders, the Classification Guide and Blueprint Specifications to see if there were any other combinations that could run SS/AA besides the ’68 Hemi cars. I only found one car that fit the class, the Cobra Roadster which happened to be the only roadster in the guide, a neat thing, but too exotic and expensive to even consider. After that I was at a Vegas race and I toured the Shelby Facility across from the track, and in the facility was a group of unfinished Cobra Roadsters that got me thinking.”
About 12 years ago after watching the Hemi Challenge at Indy I sat down with my big red binders, the Classification Guide and Blueprint Specifications to see if there were any other combinations that could run SS/AA besides the ’68 Hemi cars.
Seeking another avenue to bring his Roadster dreams to life, Stock caught up with NHRA’s tech staff. “I conferred with Jim Skelly at NHRA who verified that a car need only be in conformity to the original vehicle. The origin of the components was not an issue, only their trueness to the original. That sent me on a search for Cobra parts. Then, before I could make substantial headway on the project the NHRA gave the ‘68 Hemi’s their own class and saved me from myself,” he explains.
Once Ford Racing released the 2010 Ford Cobra Jet engine program, Stock took notice and his interest was piqued yet again. “I took a glance at the new engine specs and it seemed that the 352 looked to have a fairly favorable horsepower rating. Jesse Kershaw helped me round up some of the required parts and Patterson Racing went to work on the motor,” he says.
Still seeking a car to put it in, he had plans of using an Escort ZX2, but a conversation with friend and longtime Super Stock racer Alex Denysenko changed his mind. Denysenko suggested he build the Cobra the pair had talked about, since NHRA had dropped the 1982 restriction on GT cars, and all of the cars in the Classification Guide were now available for use.
So how did he go about securing a Cobra for use in Super Stock? “The body and original chassis are from Kirkham Motorsports. They are exact reproductions of the original, hand formed all aluminum body on tube steel chassis, with the exception that the 4-inch main frame rail tubes are .125 wall as opposed to the originals which were .080 wall. Everything would bolt on an original car and vice versa. The key point is it is a reproduction, not a replica. The original cars were really race cars that were titled and driven on the street,” Stock explains.
The fact that the Kirkham Cobra he started with is a reproduction rather than a replica made it legal for Super Stock competition, and from there he was off and running. The car was delivered to noted chassis builders Pat and Andy Kronenbitter of PK Racecars and turned into an absolute work of art, comprising a modern Super Stock chassis that fit within the Cobra’s bodylines. The body was worked and painted by Tom Perdue, and the rest of the chassis pieces were powdercoated by Aesthetic Finishers.
He showed up with the car to the JEGS SPORTSnationals a few weeks ago in Columbus and qualified 49th of 99 cars in Super Stock with a 9.721 on a 10.40 index. He went on to lose to Richard Mowat in the first round of competition, but the weekend was by all accounts a complete success.
Of course, no project like this could come to fruition without the help of a number of dedicated individuals. “Rick Brown, Bill Lipscomb, Jerry Hall, Jeremy Stock and Michael Link all had hands in fabrication, transportation and details too numerous to recount. Richard Doane set the chassis up and it hooked and went straight from pass one on. Jason Coan hit the converter perfectly, Joel and Sean of Joel’s On Joy fame built the C-4, and Gary Patterson, Vice-President at Shelby American has been an invaluable and indispensable source of information,” says Stock.
It looks like they’ve all done a great job, and we look forward to seeing Mr. Stock’s exploits with this unique blast from the past in Super Stock competition.