Drag racing is a sport based around incrementals and progression — you see both on the track with the information on a time-slip, along with how a racer moves through their career with ever-faster cars. Jacob Hachinski began his racing career helping his father and eventually found his way into a race car himself. Now, he chases the goal of going quicker and faster each time he makes a pass at the track.
There are so many ways that drag racing can suck an individual in and make them focus their life around it — for Jacob, it’s the vibe that the sport provides. The people that follow drag racing are some of the most die-hard motorsports fans on the planet, and they all want to be a part of the sport in some fashion. It could be just the casual fan that watches on TV or the person that wants to help out a fellow racer — Jacob enjoys what they bring to the table, no matter how.
“I’ve got my own family at home, but on any given weekend when I go to the track I have my drag racing family, and that’s just awesome. The competitive side of drag racing is something that I really enjoy, as well. You can go out and build a car that’s fast and run in a class where you can possibly win on a reasonable budget. It’s fun to be a part of the sport because people can really relate to drag racing — it’s something they see on TV and then can go do it themselves,” Jacob says.
Before Jacob even thought of building his wicked twin-turbo 2009 Chevy Cobalt with his family, he had spent a lot of time at the drag strip. Jacob’s father, Tim, was a long-time racer that brought him to the track at a young age to watch him race. When he was old enough, Jacob picked up a wrench and did his part to help keep the racing operation going any way he could.
“Dad raced Super Gas when I was a kid and we were always at the track bracket racing or doing something. I spent a lot of time helping him with his race car, so that just made me love it even more and want to be a part of the racing lifestyle. Dad now enjoys just going to the track with us and playing the role of crew chief on the car,” Jacob explains.
About 15 years ago Tim began slowing down with his own racing to concentrate on doing paintwork for racers, and it was around this time that Jacob started to wheel a car of his own. Jacob built a 1972 Nova that he raced in the footbrake class at his local drag strip and campaigned the car for about two years. While Jacob was racing his Nova, the turbo LS movement really began to take off and caught both Tim and Jacob’s attention. Since Tim wasn’t doing much racing the decision was made to sell the Nova and concentrate the family’s racing efforts on building a heads-up race car with a turbocharged LS combination.
“We sold the Nova to help fund our 2001 Pontiac Firebird build that started our heads-up racing adventure. We did really well with that car, running in the low 9-second range pretty easily, so we decided to see how far we could push it into the 8-second zone. The car started to win some races and doing well at big events so we kept pushing it even more,” Jacob states.
The Firebird was a great learning platform for Jacob and his family to begin their small tire racing journey, but they eventually realized they would need something new in order to stay competitive. Tim had done a lot of paintwork for the slick Chevrolet Cobalt’s that rolled out of B&B Race Cars and the pair talked about building one of their own for many years. Finally, the time was right so they decided to take the plunge and the Salty Cobalt project was born.
“We bought a stock Chevy Cobalt off Craigslist in Alcoa, Tennessee to use for the body of the car. The chassis was purchased from Lee Sharp who raced the car at NHRA events for a while. When we got the car and chassis home myself, my dad, and my wife Anastasia worked on getting one car built from the two. The goal was to create a car that would be legal for most small-tire no-prep events all over the country,” Jacob says.
When the Cobalt chassis was finished it was time to drop an engine in between the fenders, so Jacob stuck to what he knew: the boosted LS platform. The Bullet Racing Engines-built 402 cubic-inch engine uses a Dart LS NXT block, K1 Technologies crankshaft, Wiseco pistons, and Molnar connecting rods as a foundation. Slick Rick Racing Heads massaged the LS3 cylinder heads so they would work with a custom 417 Motorsports intake manifold.
Boost is supplied by a pair of Forced Inductions seven-blade billet 80/96s selected by John Bewley of LJMS. The headers that send the exhaust into the turbos were fabricated by Jacob’s father, Tim. Feeding the fuel to the 16 Injector Development fuel injectors is an Aeromotive belt-driven fuel pump. Controlling the engine’s spark and other functions is a Holley Dominator EFI system.
Jacob’s wife, Anastasia, is a critical member of his racing team; she handles the tuning side of things for the Cobalt. Anastasia’s involvement in tuning Jacob’s race cars began when they were adding an MS3 Pro ECU to the Firebird. While Scott Clark and Anastasia worked on wiring the car, Anastasia starting asking a lot of questions about how the ECU worked. When the time came to put fire in the pipes of the Pontiac, Scott showed Anastasia the basics of tuning and things took off from there.
“Anastasia has been to several Holley classes and tunes on a few different cars. She has been the tuner on the Firebird and Cobalt over the past few years — during that time period we haven’t had a single engine failure due to her lack of tuning knowledge. She’s found something she enjoys and she has really run with it. I tell her that there’s nobody else I would rather have tuning on my car in the world because she knows it so well and works so hard at learning new things. Having my wife heavily involved with our racing operation makes this more than just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle that we’re proud to live,” Jacob says.
Tuning is just part of what Anastasia does on the Cobalt — she also helps with keeping the car maintained and running its best. She is very hands-on and has no problem getting elbow-deep in a thrash to keep the car going on raceday. Jacob says she has even torn the top end of the engine down while he was at work just so he could perform some required maintenance that would allow them to race.
The dedication it takes to be at any racetrack on any weekend is substantial, and Jacob will be the first one to admit that. As a racer, he always wants to go faster, but he understands that you have to work within the budget and abilities you possess to avoid taking away the fun of going racing.
“We would love to run big-tire, but we just can’t afford that type of racing so we’ve figured out how to go as fast as we can on a smaller tire. That’s what attracted us to run small-tire no-prep: we can run at the front and still do it on a working person’s budget. I enjoy the challenge of going as fast as I can with the money we have available to us,” Jacob explains.
To help keep the racing program going in the right direction, Jacob has enlisted the help of some great companies. Between the support from his sponsors and family, Jacob is able to race at the highest level possible at the biggest no-prep events all over the country.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have some outstanding companies step up to assist us with our racing program. Aeromotive Fuel Systems, 417 Motorsports, Fuel Injector Development, Bullet Racing Engines, Lil’ John Motorsports Solutions, Forced Induction Turbos, and Realtuners LLC have all been a part of our team. I really can’t thank these companies enough for what they do to make our racing dreams come true,” Jacob says.
Jacob Hachinski has spent a lifetime enjoying everything that drag racing has to offer and he has no plan to change that anytime soon. All of that positive energy has been channeled by Jacob, his wife, and father into their small-tire Cobalt to make racing as much fun as possible. If there’s anything we can learn from Jacob and his family, it’s that drag racing should always be about having fun.