While Tommy Annunziata and Jimmy LaRocca were rolling Annunziata’s 2014 Cobra Jet out of the shop for its debut in ProCharger Coyote Modified at the 16th Annual WyoTech NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals in Pennsylvania in April, the reverse gear gave out in the transmission.
Disgusted but not derailed, they raced, and Annunziata ripped off an 8.13 at 168 mph right out of trailer, but a broken input shaft on the trans on the next pass ended their weekend.
Upon returning home, they replaced the troubled transmission with a Rossler Turbo 400 to complement a Coan converter, and weeks later, Annunziata turned on the win light with an 8.10 against Joe Guertin at the 13th Annual NMRA Ford Super Nationals in Ohio, but when a timing system snafu required a rematch and he was not able to make the call to the lanes, Guertin got the win.
After making repairs, Annunziata of Colts Neck, New Jersey and LaRocca of Monroe Twp., New Jersey were focused on flying to another final round at the 11th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing in Illinois in July, but were instead relegated to the trailer with electrical issues.
Not anywhere near ready to call it a season, they saddled up and headed to a recent test session at Atco Dragway in New Jersey, where Annunziata achieved a personal best of 7.98 at 173.25 in NMRA trim. What that does, among other things, is prove the strength of their combination, which began as an aluminum Ford R block purchased from JDM Engineering, was sleeved for added strength by Weston Machine and assembled by Tommy Martino of MB Race Engines before being topped with 5.0 heads ported by Kris Starnes, a Whipple-Ford intake manifold, PMAS mass air meter, Ford 140mm intake and a 3.6 Whipple supercharger.
“We had the same tune-up in the car as we did at the race in Pennsylvania,” said Annunziata. “We knew we could run that ET. We just didn’t know how many more new-car bugs we had to uncover before we were actually able to get somewhere.”
Now, Annunziata and LaRocca have added ammunition going into the final points race of the season, the 18th Annual Nitto NMRA All Ford World Finals, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2016 at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where they hope to qualify in the top half of the field and advance to the final in the car which rolls on Santhuff’s struts.
“This year has definitely had some highs and some lows,” said Annunziata, whose main sponsor is Peoples Home Loans, a division of Peoples Bank, and who has additional support from Whipple Superchargers. “The lows threatened to take the wind out of our sails, but but it didn’t, and now we’re looking for redemption.”