Jack French III, the mastermind behind the performance-focused Atomizer Fuel Systems company, always delivers big results to racers looking to improve their programs on track. Now, French is also delivering big results as a team owner in the no-prep racing world with his latest “Jackyll” build.
Prior to starting the process that would lead to developing the Atomizer company, French worked on the product development team at Siemens in Virginia in their automotive division alongside some world-class engineers. There, he acquired priceless insights into the OEM fuel injector manufacturing process and what it took to produce an incredible product with stringent specifications and tight tolerances.
“At the time, the biggest you could run was a Bosch 160-pound truck injector. People were putting one, two, or even three per cylinder to get enough fuel to their engines,” French explained of the era in the late-1990s and early-2000s. The hole in the market sparked an idea in his mind that there was an opportunity to manufacture a larger injector to make more power.
He went on to build a prototype injector and start his company, which rapidly grew. Over the years, Atomizer has played a key role in the development of drag racing as a whole as French’s innovations and American-made products have helped fuel cars to quicker and faster runs all around the world.
We’ve had some struggles dialing it in, but all in all, the car is very fast. – Jack French
French has been a Mopar man ever since he was young – his first car was a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T – and he took the initiative to learn how to rebuild engines and transmissions, even before he got his driver’s license. Growing up in Pennsylvania in the 1980s, he could often be found street racing on back roads.
“After college, I bought a couple of bracket cars and didn’t have the money to pay anyone for chassis work, so, I bought a welder, a bender, a pipe notcher, and the tools I needed to do my own roll cages,” shared the man of his enterprising spirit. French worked his way through the 1990s as a bracket racer and built his first Outlaw 10.5 car, a Plymouth Barracuda, around 2001. “I raced in Super Modified in NSCA with my Hemi-powered car and a Liberty five-speed. It was all-motor, about 1,200 horsepower, and pretty quick for the time.”
French took a break from racing in 2005 to focus on growing his budding Atomizer business and developing his career as the company required more and more of his attention, but found he often missed the action of having a car of his own.
In late 2016, French finally had the funds to build a fast, competitive car and purchased a 2017 Dodge Challenger Hellcat as a body-in-white. The Radial vs the World category was at its pinnacle, and French wanted to be a part of it – so, he christened his build “Vixen” and set it up to be a small-tire drag radial car.
Through his work with Atomizer, French had met the Bruder brothers, Nick and Rich. “They were running X275 at the time with my 225 lb/hr injectors, but I met them for the first time at the Yellow Bullet Nationals in 2010,” recalled French of how they all instantly hit it off.
Soon, the three had teamed up to use the Bruders’ wildly successful cars as testbeds for Atomizer’s product development; the feedback that the Bruders delivered to French helped develop Atomizer’s gasoline injector program. “Then, they switched to methanol and started on a turbo project, which helped develop the 575-pound/hour injector – a very popular size for X275 single injector per cylinder applications,” French continued.
Knowing he didn’t have the time to dedicate to driving Vixen full-time, French quickly chose to put Rich in the driver’s seat and let Nick handle the tune-up.
It wasn’t long after the very first outing with Vixen that French received a phone call from James “Reaper” Goad of “Street Outlaws” fame. Goad told French he was starting a new spinoff series called “No Prep Kings,” where they would run with no glue or track prep. “It sounded cool, but I had a radial car and wasn’t sure I could compete there,” said French.
He decided to give it a go and brought Vixen up to Bob Carroll at Carroll’s Rod & Racecraft in New Jersey. “From October through January of 2018, it was transformed from a small tire car to a big tire car,” French stated. “Fortunately, the original builder had put large enough wheel tubs in the first time that it wasn’t too much of a struggle.”
French and the Bruders ran Vixen in the first three seasons of “Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings” with a DiSomma Racing Engines-built, twin-turbocharged Hemi under the hood. French had fun as a car owner, but was feeling the itch to strap in and get behind the wheel again…and he had an idea to make it happen.
Back in 2006, French purchased a front-wheel drive 2007 Dodge Stratus R/T grocery-getter from a used car lot. He did the chassis work himself (twice) and turned it into an Outlaw 10.5 contender but, due to rule changes and his focus on Atomizer, he never finished putting it together and let it sit.
“In 2019, I took the Stratus to Skip Hambright at Iron City Engineering. He removed the chassis and put the third different chassis in it before it had ever even seen a racetrack,” laughed French. Hambright completely reworked the Stratus to meet the “No Prep Kings” specs and French got it back in early 2020. “It was very well put together and had a ProCharger with a Liberty transmission and a Quick Drive.”
Given the fact it had been such a long time since he had driven, and that “you have to be on your game to drive cars with this much power,” French opted to keep Rich in the driver’s seat; he knew, realistically, that he wasn’t ready just yet to do the honors. The guys were all set to make a splash with the French’s new “Jackyll” Stratus, but the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic quickly put a halt to racing, filming, and life in general.
Instead, French and the Bruders spent time testing. They got Jackyll sorted out and began racing in “No Prep Kings” once the action picked back up in mid-2021. Things went well initially, but it was during the eighth race at Virginia Motorsports Park when things took an unexpected turn.
Going up against Kye Kelley in the finals for $40,000, Bruder lined up Jackyll in the left lane but got loose not long after the hit. “He touched the wall with the nose pretty good,” French explained of the incident. “Ryan Rakestraw at RK Racecraft worked really hard to put it back together in short order and it was perfectly executed. We only missed one race as a result.”
The guys finished out the season and were happy with the car but not with how many parts they sacrificed in the name of making big power. Over the winter leading into 2022, though, French took a look at the rules and realized his car would have a better competitive advantage with a screw blower instead of the centrifugal supercharger.
Back in the shop and under the knife, the Stratus received the glorious gift of a brand-new PSI Superchargers screw blower. French even worked directly with PSI’s owner, Chelsea Clark, to integrate his injector bosses into the blower case so that the nozzles sit just above the rotors. “The positioning is absolutely perfect,” French noted of the custom work to integrate his Atomizer products. “Jeff Bohr of Bohr Racing Products did the injector hat for me exactly as I wanted, too, so I could place the EFI and injectors exactly where I wanted them.”
Yes, French also chose to run a full electronic fuel injection setup (not a hybrid) on the screw supercharger as opposed to a traditional mechanical injection setup, as it simply didn’t make sense for the EFI guy to run anything else.
The customized PSI showpiece feeds its compressed charge air directly into a DiSomma-built Noonan 4.9-inch bore space 540 cubic inch Hemi engine. “Thanks to Anthony DiSomma for the awesome power he makes with his engines,” shared French. The VP-fueled Hemi has also been enhanced with T&D rocker arms, Lucas Oil fluids, NGK spark plugs, Moroso plug wires and dry sump, Pro-Fab zoomie headers, and more.
Just like in Vixen, French was running a Quick Drive torque converter drive unit in Jackyll but recently changed to a TyDrive unit instead. The billet Liberty six-speed transmission and Neal Chance lock-up torque converter, though, have been onboard since day one although French is toying with the idea of trying out a B&J three-speed transmission.
From the gearbox, the DRE-supplied power runs through a carbon-fiber driveshaft and into a rearend from Carmack Engineering. Shocks and struts from Menscer Motorsports, four-way adjustable in the back and two-way adjustable in the front, give the guys plenty of options when it comes to setting the suspension for maximum traction on the no-prep surface with their Hoosier tires.
With the “go” portion of the equation sorted out, French focused on the “show” portion and commissioned Michael Schakel of Colorworks Unlimited to airbrush the awesome personalization across the car. “Except for the stickers on the back window and the wing, it’s all paint,” French detailed of the incredible work which includes real, 24-karat gold leaf lettering. “I’m an old-school guy and wanted a retro-style paint job. The grill is all airbrushed, there’s tons of detail.”
Safety was also a key focus for French and he worked with John Gentry at Stroud Safety to supply the parachutes and wheelie bar nets. Gentry also provided many other odds and ends through his company, Baron Racing. “John is a great guy and I respect someone who works as hard as he does,” added French. “Shannon Davis at Davis Technologies and Donny [Cross] at Jerry Bickel Race Cars both always get me what I need, too.”
The work on the power adder changeover was completed in early 2022 and the team tested throughout the whole month of March. The “No Prep Kings” season five schedule kicked off at Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida in April and it was definitely a bit of a challenge to run Jackyll in competition with a new combination.
“I’m determined to stick to my EFI roots and make it work one way or another,” affirmed French. Fortunately, Nick Bruder is a talented tuner and was able to get the Stratus cooperating in a flash. “Nick is a master on the keyboard and got a handle on figuring out the fuel map.”
Of course, a few things needed to be changed and adjusted as the season progressed. A broken four-link cost the guys the race in Florida but they were able to stay, make the repairs, and go testing in time for the next “No Prep Kings” event just two weeks later at Virginia Motorsports Park.
“We’ve had some struggles dialing it in, but all in all, the car is very fast,” continued the owner, who believes he’s got one of the top-three quickest entries in the “No Prep Kings” field. French and the Bruder Brothers are looking forward to the second half of the 2022 season, as they’ve been working diligently throughout the summer to make a few other adjustments. “We put a new rearend in it and a new transmission and will be testing a lot.”
Despite the ups and downs, French is enjoying being involved in drag racing again as an owner while also still being involved as a manufacturer and supplier. With the “Street Outlaws” events, he’s getting to see the sport thrive at a whole new level, as the community experienced a resurgence thanks to the popularity of “No Prep Kings” and no-prep racing in general.
Fans of all ages, young and old, frequently stop by his pit to see his cars up close, ask questions, and interact with the team. “I couldn’t do any of this without my crew: Ron Morgan, Will Burns, Jimmy Liverman, and, of course, Nick and Rich Bruder,” said French gratefully. “Also, thanks to my wife, Gina, for all her patience and support.”
Ultimately, French does want to take over driving duties of his “Vixen” 2017 Challenger but will wait until the time is right and until he’s able to get more seat time. For now, the plan is to have both “No Prep Kings” builds out at the same time, with French driving Vixen, Rich Bruder in Jackyll, and Nick Bruder tuning both, for season six of “No Prep Kings” in 2023. “Jackyll is fast and we’re putting in the work,” French asserted. “That car is definitely a threat.”