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Monster Jet—Paul Svinicki took product development to the track with this Godzilla-swapped Cobra Jet

Posted By: Steve Baur
Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Photography by Kevin DiOssi

 
Success is rarely achieved single-handedly, and when it comes to propelling incredible drag Ford Performance racing innovations, Paul Svinicki is a fixture behind the wheel. 
 
Svinicki, now 65, grew up in a huge family in a small town in Michigan, and often was left to his own devices to come up with creative solutions to not only stay entertained, but to also stand out. He had an affinity for going fast ever since he was young and his father, Paul, gifted him his own toolset at the age of six. It was Svinicki’s grandfather Steven Kakuk, however, who raced for Harley-Davidson and most notably instilled a love of speed in the youth, as the two spent many summers together making memories and setting the stage for Svinicki’s successful career to come.
 

Busy racing bicycles down big hills and enjoying typical youthful shenanigans, Svinicki also had an abundance of motorsports-minded neighbors who helped develop his mechanical skills.
 
“I would go with one neighbor to the races every weekend, help work on his ’57 Chevy during the week, and another neighbor across the street who worked for Oldsmobile and always had cool cars,” he recalled.
 
Svinicki received his first car on his 11th birthday; the old (and wrecked) Fiat Spider was a hand-me-down from one of his sisters and he quickly worked to fix it up. A few years later, the enterprising young man traded his labor of mucking out stalls and grooming horses to another neighbor in exchange for a 1968 Ford Mustang.
 

Despite the cars in his life, Svinicki was first drawn to racing dirt bikes. He raced competitively from late junior high school through high school, and participated in endurance races and motocross events with another local friend.
 
“To pay for it, I would buy beat-up bicycles and fix them and sell them for cheap or give them to kids who didn’t have anything,” he laughed regarding his hardcore work ethic inspired by his desire to go racing. “I mowed lawns, too, and did whatever I could.”
 
In the late 1970s, though, he found himself at the dragstrip more often, as he owned a fleet of Oldsmobile 442 W30s and other cool classics. By the 1980s, his focus changed, though, as Svinicki bought a house.
 
“I decided to buckle down and go back to college. I was a journeyman tool and die maker already, but went to work on the automotive side of things,” he noted.
 

Svinicki regularly attended Super Chevy Show events in the 1990s and had quite a few Bowtie brand machines in his garage. He moved to a larger home, built a 50x60-foot pole barn, and although he was busy racing Suzuki Quadzilla 500 ATVs with a traveling team until 1994, a fateful trip to the Performance Racing Industry show in 1995 led him to establish his business.
 
After purchasing a new Dynojet chassis dyno for cars, Paul’s High-Performance business officially hit high gear, as Svinicki was the first in the state of Michigan to acquire one of these useful testing tools.
 

One of Svinicki’s friends was an engineer at Ford and they would often dyno cars together for a local enthusiast club.
 
“There was a gentleman with wrinkly clothes, an ancient belt, and shoes with holes in them who came by to dyno his new ’96 Cobra,” laughed Svinicki of how he wound up meeting Ford SVO’s Jerry Green, “and he called the following Monday and said ‘what will it take to get rid of those Chevys? You have talent—I want you to race a Mustang for us.’”
 
Thanks to that fateful meeting, Svinicki went on to establish a wildly successful partnership with Ford Performance that saw him involved in everything from building a dozen vehicles for the SEMA Show to piloting a fleet of Ford Cobra Jet Mustang cars and everything in between, including the development of the 2000 Cobra R. His driving duties often brought him to Fun Ford Weekend and NMRA races, and Svinicki received tons of press and accolades for his efforts.
 
“We had been racing Four-Valve, Three-Valve, and Two-Valve engines for years, so, when I finally heard a rumor that we were getting a big-bore, 7-point-something engine with pushrods in it, I was all over it,” stated Svinicki, who had been coming off a “dry spell” as his contacts at Ford had moved on or changed roles. “They called me in August of 2020 and asked if I still had my cars. The next day, I had six brand-new engines on crates out front of my shop!”
 

The special delivery of Ford’s newest Godzilla engines, a 7.3-liter, naturally aspirated pushrod V-8 that was the new gasoline production engine for the brand’s 2020+ Super Duty trucks, marked a momentous occasion in motorsports history, as Svinicki would soon be the first to swap one into a new chassis and take it down the drag strip.
 
Svinicki met his friend, Blaine Ramey, in the mid-2000s and knew he had a 2010 Mustang Cobra Jet, the 30th constructed, which had been sitting for a few years. That car had been the first of its model year to win an NHRA Super Stock Event in 2010 and also the winner of the first Cobra Jet Shootout back in 2011, and came complete with its original Watson Engineering 25.5 SFI cage. A quick phone call later, and Ramey delivered the donor chassis.
 
“I spent a month laying out the geometry to fit it,” said the builder who quickly removed the twin-turbo 5.2-liter engine that resided in the CJ.
 

Ford created the heavy, cast-iron Godzilla block with durability in mind and installed a forged crank straight from the factory. It also features specially coated bearings with beefy forged rods and 10.5:1 pistons that use the same ring technology from Ford’s boosted bullets. On top, the heads boast tall ports and wedge-shaped combustion chambers along with aluminum roller rockers. Altogether, in stock trim, Ford’s 445 cubic-inch Godzilla platform boasts a peak torque rating of 475 and horsepower topping out at 430 at 5,500 rpm.
 
Thanks to Svinicki’s planning, Ramey’s Cobra Jet received its heart transplant with minimal complications.
 
“We left the midplate from the turbo engine in it, then plumb-bobbed everything to make sure it all fit the same way and raised the car a little to accommodate the big, low 9-quart oil pan,” explained Svinicki, who also made his own motor plates and more. “Blaine [Ramey] was really helpful with the wiring, too.”
 

With no performance camshaft profiles on the market yet, Svinicki sent blank cores out to be reground to allow him to coax more power from the engine before tackling some performance gains with the throttle body configuration.
 
Getting the Godzilla to run in something other than its intended truck home, though, was another obstacle Svinicki easily overcame. Working with OBR Control Systems, a Danish company and another Ford development partner, the computers were revised to control all of the electronics from the sensors to the oil pump. 
 
The remainder of Ramey’s Cobra Jet stayed pretty simple, as its three-speed Rossler turbo 400 transmission, Neal Chance torque converter, and SFI-approved flywheel more than met the driver’s needs.
 
Additionally, this Cobra Jet features a Strange Engineering rearend base and a Watson Racing housing; a Watson front and rear suspension; Strange brakes, and shocks also from Strange. This setup promised to firmly plant the CJ as it rocketed down the drag strip on the Mickey Thompson tires wrapped around Weld 2010 Cobra Jet wheels.
 

Wanting to see what the stock (mostly) engine could do, though, he took the Cobra Jet to nearby Milan Dragway in October with several dozen of Ford’s finest in attendance. There, he ran 10.97 at 122.47 mph on three-year-old, flat-spotted slicks and became the first to run a stock Godzilla in the 10-second zone.
 
“I know a lot of people can bolt-on headers, but most won’t and the factory exhaust manifolds were good, so I flipped them left-to-right so they pointed forward and that was pretty much it on the engine,” he continued.
 
With the baseline established, it was time for Svinicki to start pushing the envelope.
 
“The engine has variable cam timing and the loads that it hits at wide-open throttle or letting off the transbrake are very high—it’s simply not designed for that,” he explained of why he started playing with VCT lockouts and timing.
 
In the Spring of 2021, the innovator was ready to leave the snow behind in Michigan. So, he took a trip to sunny Florida for the 27th Annual BMR Suspension NMRA Spring Break Shootout at Bradenton Motorsports Park. Not sure how things would go with the untested car, Svinicki arrived early for testing on Tuesday and appreciated the extra time to work out the remaining bugs.
 

In competition, he qualified fifth in the Watson Racing Cobra Jet Showdown class thanks to a 0.036-second reaction time. Svinicki earned a round-one win in eliminations with a 10.420 at 126.07mph pass on a 10.38 dial-in before going out in round two on a red light.
 
“It was a huge accomplishment for our team to validate all of the hours spent on the car and the people involved,” he said, pleased with the performance of Ramey’s ride. “With a 100-shot of nitrous, we did manage to get it in the 9-second zone and be the first to that milestone, too, with a 9.63 at 135mph run.” 
 
Back home after the big outing, Svinicki started sorting out everything he learned from the NMRA race. He knew he wanted more control than the OBR system could offer and settled on a FuelTech FT600 system.
 
“That change really made the car shine” he added, happily. “We worked with Nads (Nathaniel Ardern) in Australia and he was phenomenal in getting us what we wanted with the throttle control, nitrous control, and anything else we could think of.”
 
It took a little while to get everything dialed in to his exacting standards, so Svinicki chose to sit out the NMRA and NMCA calendar until the Arrington Performance NMRA/NMCA Power Festival presented by Force Engineering at US 131 Motorsports Park in Michigan in July.
 
“The car was running the best it had ever run, but we were still sorting through some small issues,” Svinicki candidly stated of his mid-9s improvement. “Having the data logging from the FuelTech to confirm what I was feeling was really nice, though. It’s really fast and easy to use.”
 

Next, in Norwalk, Ohio, for the 2021 NMCA All-American Nationals, featuring the COPO Shootout and Cobra Jet Showdown at Summit Motorsports Park in August, Svinicki had the Godzilla-powered Cobra Jet sorted out.
 
Placed surprisingly low in the Watson Racing Cobra Jet Shootout qualifying order on his 0.115-second reaction time, Svinicki started eliminations from the number 21 spot. Gunning for a 9.76-second pass, Svinicki’s fast Ford ran under the estimate when it went 9.718 at 145.66 mph. Even though he didn’t get the win, the fiercely competitive man still enjoyed the opportunity to swing for a home run and spend the weekend at the track with his friends.
 
“The track at the NMRA and NMCA races is always prepped well, so sometimes I would enter two or three classes just to get more laps in. The staff always does a great job about making sure we get our runs, even when there’s so much going on,” he laughed regarding his occasional outings in ARP Open Comp and other classes. “The cool thing is, with all the events that we did this year, nothing broke. We ran the Godzilla’s guts out and never hurt the engine—the compression and leak down still looked great at the end of the season.”
 
Being the first to attempt anything new is often a task fraught with hurdles and challenges, but Svinicki’s cool and calm demeanor helped him easily overcome any potential speedbumps.
 

During pre-race testing in Norwalk, his perseverance paid off when his Godzilla engine propelled the Cobra Jet to a new personal best of 8.91 at 151 mph. Yet another record-setting run for the first stock Godzilla in the 8s, it was made possible by way of two kits of a Nitrous Outlet plate system and matching direct-port system, all controlled perfectly by the FuelTech FT600 and programmed by Ramey.
 
Not one to toot his own horn, Svinicki prefers his cars’ performance speak for themselves and is always a gentleman about the outcome.
 
“I just show up and do the best I can with the equipment I have on that day,” shared the humble hot shoe. “But, there are a lot of people involved that help make it all possible—Blaine Ramey, of course, and Marc Heible, Burgess Colman, Nathaniel Ardern, Bruce Campbell, Samantha Schyett, Clifford Scheck, Greg Sultana, and Steven Sultana, Eric Neal at the shop, and my ring gear guy at Riverside Gear who helps out at the track. Dave Bowman has been a Godsend with fab and CNC skills. Also, my lovely wife, Jacquelyn, puts up with a lot and keeps us fed and hydrated!”
 
Of all the unique features of the car, most notably its unconventional engine swap, Svinicki’s favorite is perhaps the fact that the Cobra Jet comes with a part number, not a VIN.
 
“All of the performance-based legislation is changing… with this car, because there’s no VIN, the government can’t step in and control the emissions and other changes—it’s a pure, 100-percent, thoroughbred race car,” he said of the freedom that comes with the part number. 
 

Looking ahead to his 2022 year, Svinicki is more excited than ever to be a pioneer of performance and help develop the Godzilla crate engine package with Ford Performance.
 
“We have an all-new camshaft timing chain set that will be available from Paul’s High Performance and will be ‘the thing to have, as well as several other parts for the 7.3-liter engine that are all reasonable priced,” shared the man whose racing-related travel will be made possible thanks to assistance from Monster Motors in Michigan Center, Michigan. 
 
Additionally, new cylinder heads and a few other items were on Svinicki’s to-do list for the off-season before he begins again in Bradenton and takes another stab at the Cobra Jet Showdown. He intends to attend several events, but the true plan will be dependent upon his business and how things are rolling there. After more than 25 years running Paul’s High Performance, he knows that customers always come first as that work is what enables him to race on the side himself.
 
“My grandpa told me ‘I know you’re going to race, but don’t forget your customers. If you race without them, you won’t have them,’ and he was right,” asserted Svinicki, who also has a Mystichrome 2003 Ford Cobra he hopes to bring out to the NMRA playing field shortly.
 
In the meantime, he has plenty to keep busy with as the energetic man has absolutely no plans of retiring any time soon. Offering engine builds to select customers, along with parts, components, suspension setup, wiring, “fix-it” services for projects that have gone awry, and so much more, Paul’s High-Performance services everything from 1950s-era classics to modern-day supercars such as the Ford Shelby GT500.
 

The Details

Owner/Driver
Owner: Blaine Ramey                     
Driver: Paul Svinicki            
Hometown: Jackson Michigan     
Occupation: Owner of Paul’s High Performance
Class: Open comp /Cobra Jet Showdown        
Crew: Jacquelyn Svinicki, Marc Heible, Burgess Colman, Nathaniel Ardern, Bruce Campbell, Eric Neil, Samantha Schyett, Clifford Scheck, Greg Sultana and Steven Sultana
Car Year/Make/Model:2010 Cobra Jet # 30
 
Powertrain 
Engine: 7.3 liters
Engine builder: Ford          
Displacement: 445 cubic inches
Block: Stock
Bore: 4.220 inches
Stroke: 3.976 inches
Bore Space: 4.528 inches
Deck Height:  9.637 inches
Crank: Stock Forged
Rods: Stock 6.319-inch Powder Forging HS170 
Pistons: stock 10.5:1
Heads: stock 2.17-inch intake / 1.67-inch exhaust       
Valvetrain: stock 1.8 ratio 
Cam type: Custom reground cam           
Carburetor or EFI system: FuelTech FT600
Power-adder: Nitrous Outlet 2 kit dry system 150-horsepower throttle body and 300-horsepower direct-port
Injector:  90 lb/hr     
Fuel brand and type: VP Racing Fuels MS109
Headers and exhaust: Stock cast exhaust manifolds
Transmission: Rossler three-speed 1.7, 1.3, and 1:1
Transmission Builder: Rossler
Clutch/shifter/torque converter: Neil Chance 15V 47.5 degrees
Rearend: Strange Engineering 3.7 with Watson Engineering housing
 
Chassis 
Body and/or chassis builder: Ford performance 
Suspension (Front): Watson Engineering
Suspension (Rear): Watson Engineering coilover three-link
Brakes (Front): Strange Engineering       
Brakes (Rear): Strange Engineering        
Wheels (front):  Weld 2010 Cobra Jet, 15x3.5-inch     
Wheels (Rear):  Weld 2010 Cobra Jet, 15x10-inch
Tires (Front): Mickey Thompson front runners
Tires (Rear): Mickey Thompson 28x10.50-inch bias-ply slicks
Aftermarket body modifications: Stock all-steel
Safety equipment: Watson Engineering 25.5 cert
Vehicle weight: 3,350 pounds
Quickest et: 8:90 seconds
Best 60-foot: 1.28 seconds
Fastest mph: 151 


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