After introducing himself to NMRA Edelbrock Renegade last year, Tony Hobson hauled to a 7.45 and a fourth place finish in points in his 2014 Mustang GT.
That was proof that he, his car and his combination were capable of being competitive in the cutthroat category.
Soon after the season wrapped, however, Hobson and his crew chief, Eric Holliday of JPC Racing, decided to swap engines.
“Eric Holliday, Rich Groh of Rich Groh Racing Engines and I got together and talked about how we had made really good headway with the car, suspension and transmission set-up, and how because of that, we would be comfortable changing the engine and going with more cubic-inches,” said Hobson. “We figured we could have something that was even better than what we already had.”
So, Hobson pulled the Rich Groh Racing Engines-built 305 cubic-inch 5.0L engine from the car and then delivered the car to JPC Racing to have installed into it a new Rich Groh Racing Engines-built 362 cubic-inch 5.4L engine built around a Ford GT block. It was topped with Ford GT heads ported and polished by Groh, and because Hobson had decided to move from his previous turbo to a 76mm Garrett turbo massaged by Forced Inductions, JPC Racing installed that as well.
The engine was backed with a Proformance Racing Transmissions-built Turbo 400 and ProTorque converter, and Holliday used AEM Infinity to lay a tune. Meanwhile, new BMR suspension components were installed under the car rolling on RC Components wheels wrapped with Mickey Thompson 275 ET Street Radial Pro tires. When it was all said and done, Hobson headed to this year’s season-opening race, the 24th Annual Nitto NMRA Spring Break Shootout in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park, where he qualified fourth with a 7.56 and made it to the second round.
While he had trouble and qualified in the last spot with a 7.91 at the 10th Annual NMRA/NMRA All-Star Nationals presented by Mahle in April at Atlanta Dragway, he kept at it, turned things around and took it all the way to the final, where he finished as runner-up with a 7.41
He laid down a 7.37 to qualify in the second spot at the 18th Annual CJ Pony Parts NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals in May at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania, and showed that he’s as consistent as he as quick, as he laid down another 7.37 — a personal best — to win the event. In the season’s first very hot and humid conditions, he achieved a 7.57 to qualify in the third spot at the 15th Annual NMRA Ford Super Nationals in June at National Trail Raceway in Ohio, and made it to the semifinal before exiting competition with a 7.48.
“The engine, as well as the new BMR suspension, are working well,” said Hobson, who currently holds the NMRA Edelbrock Renegade top-speed record with a 187.18 mph. “We’re still throwing out ideas and trying new things, and with each outing, we continue to see improvements from the 60-foot on. I’m swinging for the fence each and every time I line up. My goal at the races is to be the number one qualifier and win, but the competition is very close, and that’s one of the reasons I love this class.”
Hobson, who’s currently in second place in NMRA Edelbrock Renegade points — only 140 points behind leader Frank Varelra — has now turned his focus to the 13th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, July 26-29 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois.
“I’m doing everything I can to take the points lead,” said Hobson, who works at Larry Jeffers Race Cars. “I feel like I have a chance. I have a great program and great people helping me, including my wife, Lydia Hobson, Eric Holliday, everyone at JPC Racing, Rich Groh, Dave Klaput and Doug Skinner of Proformance Racing Transmissions, Lawson Mollica of AEM Electronics, Kelly Aiken of BMR and Larry Jeffers of Larry Jeffers Race Cars, where we do my chassis work.”