The names Jimmy LaRocca and Tommy Annunziata are synonymous with the early days of NMRA, Street Outlaw, Pro 5.0 and Renegade as each powered his way to potent numbers before scaling back on their seat time the past several years.
But when Annunizata took delivery of a 2014 Cobra Jet in April of 2015, the longtime teammates wasted no time before heading to the track to test. Before long, they had coaxed an 8.7 at 158 mph from the car powered by a 5.0 engine and 2.9L Whipple supercharger and wearing drag radials.
“Jimmy and I are two of the most competitive people you will ever meet, so the second we got the car out there, we were trying to push it,” said Annunziata, of Colts Neck, New Jersey.
Inspired by the car’s capabilities and intrigued by NMRA ProCharger Coyote Modified, they turned their focus to enhancing their already potent combination and entering the exciting class.
“The ProCharger Coyote Modified class is a perfect fit for the Cobra Jet, and the rules make it a little more competitive and challenging,” said LaRocca, of Monroe Township, New Jersey. “Plus, it looks like the Coyote engine is the engine of the future and Ford has a focus on that class.”
The teammates set out to replace the engine’s stock Coyote block with an aluminum Ford R block they purchased from JDM Engineering, which had it sleeved for added strength by Weston Machine. They then turned it over to Tommy Martino of MB Race Engines, who’s currently assembling it with a prepped Ford crankshaft, Mahle pistons and Manley I-beam rods.
It will be topped with a set of 5.2 heads ported by Kris Starnes, Whipple-Ford intake manifold and Ford 140mm intake, and the 2.9L Whipple supercharger will be replaced with a 3.4 Whipple supercharger.
Ford electronics and fuel injection will be in place, and a Turbo 400 will help transfer power to the pavement. While the car is currently outfitted with the suspension it came from the factory with, UPR suspension components will be added down the road.
Given LaRocca’s success with ProChargers and the fact that he was one of the original racers to run a centrifugal supercharger, it might come as a surprise that the team is relying on a 3.4 Whipple supercharger for added oomph.
“We’re running a Whipple because we felt that we should stay with what the Cobra Jet came with,” said LaRocca. “Whipple is modifying it and making a special plate so that the 3.4 Whipple can bolt onto the 5.0 engine, and we’ll be the first ones running that configuration.”
While they don’t want to throw out any numbers, LaRocca and Annunziata are looking to be in the top three, and of note here is that Haley James holds the current class elapsed-time and top-speed records with an 8.18 and 166 mph.
The plan is for LaRocca to tune while Annunziata drives, beginning with the 22nd Annual Nitto NMRA Spring Break Shootout, March 3-6, 2016 at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, and on-board as their main sponsor is Peoples Home Loans, a division of Peoples Bank, with additional support coming from Whipple Superchargers.
“Jimmy and I have been at this for a long time,” said Annunziata. “With our thirty-plus years of playing with these cars, and with his ability to tune and my ability to drive, we should be able to make some noise this year and have some fun in the process.”