HIGH-FLYING COBRA JETS
And other Fords at the 2018 Cobra Jet Reunion
Turning 50 is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so when Ford’s famed Cobra Jet hit the half-century mark, the powers that be at the Ford Motor Company and the National Muscle Car Association felt the need to celebrate. The festivities were part of the 17th annual Honeywell-Garrett NMCA All American Nationals, held at Norwalk, Ohio’s famed Summit Motorsports Park. Imagine 34 vintage Cobra Jets (428, 429, and 351 versions), 46 late-model Cobra Jets, and 12 factory CJ supercars all gathered for on-track action.
There was a show-and-shine area with 119 additional street CJs, plus guest appearances by Cobra Jet–era heroes like the 1968 NHRA Winternationals Super Stock Eliminator champ Al Joniec, retired Ford Racing prexy Emil Loeffler, 428 Cobra Jet engine wizard Bill Gilbert from Tasca Ford, retired Ford engineer Bruce Sizemore Jr., former Ford Engine Engineering project manager
Bill Barr, former Ford X-Garage employee Dominic Garfoli, retired Ford Racing technical liaison Brian Wolfe, and current Ford Racing Director Mike Delahanty.
Now let’s take a closer look at some of the high-flying Cobra
Jets (and other Ford friends) that came to Norwalk to “grab some air” and celebrate the CJ’s 50th birthday.
“There were guest appearances by heroes of the Cobra Jet era”
n One of the most popular cars at the Honeywell-Garrett/NMCA All American Nationals and winner in the Diversified Vintage CJ category was the Hall Brothers 1968 Cobra Jet Mustang driven by racer Steven Hall, who qualified his 1968 Cobra Jet Mustang in the 12th spot running a 9.74. Hall beat CJ pilot Rod Heltzel with a 9.74/136.23 when Heltzel and his 1968 CJ fouled away the win with a 9.80/135.09.
n This SS/KA 1965 Mustang 2+2 driven by Don Keen consistently carried the front wheels a full hundred feet out if the gate on every run, much to the delight of NMCA fans.
n Alan Platt, son of Ford Drag Team star Hubert Platt, flew to Norwalk to drive Andy Snetselaar’s Platt & Payne 1969 428 Cobra Jet Mustang tribute car. But he got caught napping on the starting line by Snetselaar in his P&P Ford Drag Team Torino Cobra. Snetselaar had Platt by a car length at the tree, and things remained that way all the way to the finish line.
n Cobra Jet racer Richie Pauley towed his C/SA 1968 CJ Mustang all the way from Saugus, California, to qualify fourth in Diversified Vintage Cobra Jet, only to lose in the third round against eventual runner-up Rod Heltzel.