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Gulf Jet—Brody Daugherty is flying high in NMCA Stock Eliminator Competition

Posted By: Evan J. Smith

Gulf JetBrody Daugherty is flying high in NMCA Stock Eliminator Competition


Written by Ainsley Jacobs

Photography by Evan J. Smith


A Ford fanatic since day one thanks to his father, Kevin Daugherty, and grandfather, Willard Daugherty, 26-year-old Brody Daugherty continues his familys racing legacy with his stunning Gulf Jet” entry in NMCA and NHRA Stock Eliminator.


Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Willard had an active drag racing career and passed the passion on to his son. Kevin, too, involved his son, and together, the three generations of Daugherty men enjoyed racing in the Stock and Super Stock ranks with their assortment of fast Fords.


A Kentucky native, Brody began his career as an automotive painter shortly after he graduated from high school. For the last seven and a half years, he worked at Byerly Ford in the dealerships paint and body department honing his skills and perfecting the tricks of the trade.


I always wanted a junior dragster, but my dad wouldnt buy me one because he hated the way they sounded,” laughed Brody, who received a pretty great gift for his 16th birthday instead: 1995 Mustang Cobra. Brody regularly took the Cobra to his local dragstrip, Ohio Valley Raceway in Kentucky, for small bracket races and other events. I got away from driving a little because we were so busy with the Super Stock cars, which my grandpa drove until he was almost 80 years old.”


In 2017, the family put in an order for a new 50th-anniversary Cobra Jet. My grandpa owned one of the first Cobra Jets in 1968 and had car #7, so Chuck Watson Sr. [at Watson Racing] pulled some strings and was able to get us car #7 for the 2018 model, too,” Brody said gratefully. Watson Racing specially outfitted the red Ford Performance rocket for Super Stock use with big tires and more, making it a true one-of-one edition. Every detail, down to each nut and bolt being chromed or polished, was addressed and the result was nothing short of show-stopping. Chuck Sr. and Chuck Jr. helped us out tremendously and if it wasnt for them, we wouldnt have had the opportunity to own it.”


The familys fleet continued to grow and, in January of 2021, Brody and his father purchased their black 2007 Mustang Shelby GT with its supercharged Cobra Jet powerplant. Brody was able to claim the wheelman duties full-time, and his first official outing took place at the 16th Annual NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing in May of 2021 at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis, Missouri.


Racing in my first national event was pretty exhilarating, and pretty scary!” confessed the then-rookie racer who was competing in the Stock/Super Stock Combo category. Brody was able to make two test hits at Ohio Valley before heading to Missouri and blew the tires off on both attempts, but the event went better than expected. My first full rip down the track is still one of the quickest runs Ive ever had as it went deep into the eights. Everything came together and was a good feeling for sure.”


Sadly, Willard passed away one month later at the age of 79. Then it was up to me and my dad to live up to his potential,” Brody shared. 


In early May of 2023, the father and son brought their black 2007 Shelby GT to World Wide Technology Raceway for the 18th annual running of the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Muscle Car Drag Racing. Running in Micro Strategies Super Stock, Brody qualified number one in the field with an 8.443-second pass on his 9.80 dial-in; he also set the top speed with a 167.26 mph blast.


As a result, Brody earned the right to compete in Saturdays special Testo Shootout race. Racing against Joe Ewing, Brody went 8.525 on an 8.50 dial-in to Ewings 10.505 effort on his 10.47 dial and earned not only the win but also a coveted Nitto Diamond Tree Ring and a new personal best milestone.


In eliminations, Brody lucked out with two bye runs in a row before he advanced over Mark Nowicki in round three courtesy of an 8.626 at 158.80 mph trip on his 8.62 dial-in. Brody secured his spot in the finals but fell to the runner-up position by Amy Faulk in her Pontiac Firebird.


The men continued to campaign their Super Stock operation in NHRA until a casual conversation in early 2023 led to the addition of another car. I needed to get more seat time and, because the red car and black car cant run anything other than Super Stock, we settled on a Stocker so we could run two classes in both the NMCA and NHRA,” explained the devoted Stock/Super Stock driver. Were so grateful that NMCA has both categories now!”


After searching around, making various phone calls, and putting out feelers, the men stumbled upon an interesting option that they heard was coming up for sale. After a quick inquiry and subsequent offer, they purchased their 2012 Mustang Cobra Jet in July of 2023 from three-time NMCA champion Bill Skillman.


Though the CJ was bathed in Grabber Blue from the factory, neither Brody nor Kevin were fans of the hue. We dont like blue cars, but were as Ford hardcore as you can get!” proclaimed Brody, knowing he had to have the car regardless of its outward appearance simply for how well-built it was. Even though we dont like blue, we do like Gulf-themed GT40s… and now, well, were obsessed with this car!”


Inspired by the original Ford GT40s that ran in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, Brody came up with a plan to customize their car with a heritage throwback livery that would minimize the offensiveness” of the Grabber Blue and transform the Cobra Jet into a Gulf Jet.”


He put his paint shop proficiency to work and added all of the orange accents to complete the iconic color scheme using Axalta paints and other supplies from Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts. Kolewe Customssupplied the additional decals, and Brody also took special care to mimic many of the details of the original Gulf GT40s down to the orange spokes on the 15-inch Weld Cobra Jet wheels.


Next, Brody pulled apart the headlights so he could coat the insides and bezels with candy paint. The inclusion of LED lights added a halo effect and the overall result was demon-type” eyes to mimic the mens menacing mindset. He painted many other details of the car and finished it off with the same twin horseshoes on the rear quarter panels that the original Le Mans cars carried for luck.


Other than the aesthetics, the Daughertys didnt make many other changes. Bill Skillman and his co-crew chiefs, Tomi Laine and Joey Gwin at Ray Skillman Motorsports, did all of the hard work to set it up and make the car as good as it is today,” noted Brody. Other than moving some little things around and making tuning adjustments, its pretty much the same as when we bought it.”


Under the hood, a 5.4-liter Cobra Jet powerplant from Holbrook Racing Engines sports an impressive 4.0-liter Whipple supercharger. The stock-internals engine is backed by a three-speed Turbo 400 transmission and torque converter, both from Coan Racing, and power feeds into a Mark Williams 9-inch rearend before the Stock Eliminator-mandated three-link stock-style suspension and Penske shocks put it to the pavement.


The Gulf Jets powertrain is managed by BigStuff EFIs latest Gen4 Pro Xtreme standalone system which Brodys friend and crew chief, Byerly Fords truck shop manager Dakotah Fuzzy” Sample, is responsible for tuning. Tomi showed Fuzzy how to work the software and now Fuzzy tunes it and helps me in the pits doing a lot of work. He comes to all the races with us and is a huge help,” shared Brody.


Brodys team at Byerly Ford believes in him so much, that the dealership actually came on board to support his racing efforts in 2023. 


With the gorgeous Gulf Jet ready to make its mini-debut, Brody and Kevin loaded up and headed to Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, for the NHRA SportsNational Open event in May. We used that event as testing for its real debut at the NHRA U.S. Nationals, and it was definitely stressful,” recalled Brody.


With temperatures reaching triple digits and both he and Fuzzy hustling to get the car completed, Brody needed to get a handle on the machine that was considerably different from his black Super Stock car. With the black car, I can run a trans brake and an air shifter, but in Stock eliminator I have to footbrake it and manually shift it,” explained the man, eager to get some passes under his belt.


Together, the team sorted through a few minor issues but were able to capture good data and confidently move forward knowing the car would do what it was supposed to and operate as expected.


Over Labor Day weekend in late August through early September, Brody brought the beautiful blue (and orange) beast to blast down the hallowed ground at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. We did well in qualifying and it all came down to eliminations,” he remembered. At one point, Brody staged next to another blue Cobra Jet, got up on the two step, and, ironically, both cars died on the starting line. We were both trying to get them restarted but he took off and won the eliminator.”


Back in the pits, the men reviewed the data logs, made some tuning changes, and pinpointed the issue to get the Gulf Jet running smoothly again. We went up for the next eliminator the following day and were doing great until I went red a couple of rounds in,” added Brody, happy to have had a few extra days of racing as a result. But I still got a win for my FGT/C class against everyone else with a similar engine and power combination.”


Just a few weeks later, the 22nd Annual Red Line Synthetic Oil NMCA World Finals Presented by Chevrolet Performance rolled into Indy as well, and Brody knew he couldnt miss that event, either. To make the most of it, he brought both his black Super Stocker and his Gulf Jet Stocker.


In NMCA Micro Strategies Stock competition with the Gulf Jet, Brody qualified third on an 8.528 run with a 9.70 dial-in. Luck swung his way in both rounds one and two of eliminations as each opponent missed the tree and fouled the start, but that trend shifted in Brodys direction during round three when a -0.017 light made him see red, literally.


Fortunately, Brody found much more success in NMCA Micro Strategies Super Stock with his black Byerly Ford-backed 2007 Shelby GT. There, he qualified at the top of the list with an 8.559 on his 9.80 dial-in and maintained the lead through the duration of eliminations. A bye run in round one let Brody take the tree leisurely, and the man in the other lane handed the round win to Brody when he left the line too soon. 


In round three, Brodys 8.709 at 141.91 mph pass on his 8.54 dial-in, coupled with his 0.043-second reaction time, let him move on to face Nowicki in the finals. There, Brody had his Shelby dialed into near perfection and went 8.596 at 159.83 mph on his 8.58 estimate to take the win into his own hands.


It was a full weekend of running two cars,” said Brody, amazed to get his first big overall weekend win. Despite having only completed three full seasons of racing so far, Brody already amassed an impressive collection of successes including a class win at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in 2022 that earned him his first-ever Wally, his NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl win, another class win at the 2023 NHRA U.S. Nationals, and a Top Ten finish in NMCA Micro Strategies Super Stock season points. We dont get to race a whole lot. Dad drives trucks and I paint cars, we can only take off so much time from work and cant run the circuit like most guys.”


It's thanks to his familys support, along with that of his employer, Byerly Ford, that Brody can race at all. If it wasnt for my mom, Tara, Dad, and I couldnt get away with any of this,” he laughed. 


Looking ahead to 2024 for what will be his fourth season, Brody hopes to race more NMCA events but a new baby on the way may derail those plans temporarily. My wife, Katie, and I are expecting our second daughter and shes due the weekend of the NMCA race in North Carolina,” he proudly added.


For now, the plan is to have Brody begin his next NMCA season at Beech Bend Raceway Park in May for the NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem event, then attend as many NMCA and NHRA events as his schedule permits.


As for the Gulf Jet, well, Brody and his father arent planning to mess with performance perfection but their craze to customize will have them busy tinkering during the off-season at the very least. We havent chromed anything yet… but thats coming!” affirmed Brody. Well tackle the engine compartment over the winter with custom valve covers and polished aluminum wherever we can.”


With more winners circle photos certainly in the teams future, its important to make sure the GT40-themed Cobra Jet will look its best and pay proper justice to Fords legacy.


The Details


Owner: Kevin Daugherty

Driver: Brody Daugherty

Hometown: Shepherdsville, Kentucky

Occupation: Automotive Painter

Class: Stock Eliminator

Crew: Dakotah (Fuzzy) Sample

Car Year/Make/Model: 2012 Ford Cobra Jet



Engine: 5.4-liter, 330-cubic-inch Cobra Jet

Engine builder: Chris Holbrook

Displacement: 5.4 liters

Block: Stock

Bore: Stock

Stroke: Stock

Crank: Stock

Rods: Stock

Pistons: Stock

Heads: Stock

Valvetrain: Stock

Cam type: Stock

Carburetor or EFI system: Big Stuff 3 Gen 4

Power-adder: 4.0-liter Whipple Supercharger

Fuel brand and type: VP Racing Fuels C16

Headers and exhaust: Kooks Custom Exhaust

Transmission: TH400

Transmission Builder: Coan

Clutch/shifter/torque converter: PPP Shifter, Coan Torque Converter

Rearend: Mark Williams 9-inch



Body and/or chassis builder: Darrel Herron owner of Mad Fab

Suspension (Front): Penske

Suspension (Rear): Penske

Brakes (Front): Mark Williams

Brakes (Rear): Mark Williams

Wheels (front): CJ Weld Alumistars 15x3.5-inch

Wheels (Rear): CJ Weld Alumistars 15x10-inch

Tires (Front): Mickey Thompson 26x4.5x15-inch

Tires (Rear): Mickey Thompson 30x9x15-inch

Aftermarket body modifications: Custom Paint and Graphics

Safety equipment: Impact

Vehicle weight: 3,595 pounds

Quickest ET: 8.52 seconds

Best 60-foot: 1.29 seconds

Fastest mph: 165

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