Townley, Alabama’s Jeff Cooner used to race his own car, until the guys at Bennett Racing had a car in the shop whose owner was looking for a driver. That owner was Randy Sharpston, and the car was a 1994 Mustang with a small block Ford and a ProCharger. The car ran in ORSCA’s Limited Street, and ended up wearing a pair of Alan Dudley-installed turbochargers. Unfortunately, while Cooner was on vacation, that car was wrecked at a Houston race, and totaled.
On the lookout for a new car, Sharpston and Cooner found Chris Collins selling his New Edge Mustang, which at that time, had the best of everything on it. Sharpston bought Collins’ Mustang as a complete car, but the engine was out of the car. Instead of using the existing engine, the guys added a Bennett Racing 427 Windsor engine with Garrett turbochargers on the car.
The car debuted in 2005, and won the ORSCA Limited Street championship that year. In 2006, the guys knew they would need more power to stay out front so they added a 632-inch big block Ford with Garrett twins. “We ended up getting lost with power management,” Cooner says. The guys did receive a lot of help from PTC on transmissions and torque converters. “We were one of the first to test a PTC bolt-together converter,” Cooner adds.
Through the years they had reliability issues with the Ford engine, but going in the direction of Outlaw Drag Radial, Radial vs The World, and Pro Drag Radial classes they knew those reliability issues needed to get worked out. At the end of 2013 they called Brad Anderson Enterprises (BAE) for a 550-inch Hemi to go with the twins. The car initially had a two-speed in the car, and the car responded by setting the track record at Hattiesburg with a 4.35 at 175 mph. Tuner Derek Fannin of Pressurized Solutions actually had to take power out of the car because of a few bumps in the track. The previous track record was a 4.43.
An M&M Transmissions’ Turbo 400 was added just before the Radial Reunion Race at Memphis this past weekend, and the team is working with PTC on the converter setup. Also, the car just received a Mark Williams funny car-style rear end, which necessitated Sanders 15×14 wheels to go with the Mickey Thompson Drag Radial Pro 315/60s the car wears with Weld V-Series wheels up front. “Scotty Cannon recommended us try the Mark Williams rear,” Cooner says.
Fannin and Drew Sims have been a big help on the car with Fannin handling the car’s tuning. Mark “The Shock Nerd” Menscher is helping get the new rear end and suspension dialed in with help from a Davis Technologies ProFiler box, but they had zero test time before the Radial Reunion at Memphis this past weekend.
Part of that is because they redid the car’s exterior in the days leading up to the Memphis race. Daryl Blankenship did the body work on the car and painted the trim before StickerDude’s Greg Z added the new wrap. Greg Z was done with the wrap last Thursday, and they left for Memphis that night.
The guys are going to Holly Springs next week to test for the track’s annual Spring Shootout April 16th-18th. Their best time so far with the car is a 4.15 at 195 mph, but looking at the data log, Cooner was at 60-percent throttle for 3.16 seconds during the pass because the car wanted to wheelie. “Our goal is to run 3.80s, and we’re not gonna’ stop until we do it. We have the parts to do it, and the backing to do it; we just need to test and get the car working,” Cooner says.
There to help him celebrate that pass will be his wife Kathy, son Jordan (20) and daughter Bailey (16).