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Gear-Driven Determination—John Reed Overhauls His ’09 Dodge Challenger Setup


In late 2018, John Reed made a statement when he was the first to put an IRS-equipped Gen 3 HEMI into the 7-second zone when he ran 7.85- and 7.82-second blasts at Atco Raceway in New Jersey with his ’09 Dodge Challenger. His record still stands, and now, the determined man from Delaware is set on running both low 7s in the quarter-mile and 4.40s in the eighth—and he’s got a whole new combination to get the job done.

After a short stint in NMCA True Street back when he first bought the Reed Motorsports flagship car a decade ago, Reed has quickly ramped up his efforts and set other records along the way, including having the first independent rear suspension (IRS)/Late Model HEMI in the 8s in the quarter-mile. He finished well in points for Ultra Street in 2019 with a quickest eighth-mile hit of 4.87 at 145 mph with a 1.16-second 60-foot time even while weighing 3,350-pounds on stock-style suspension, and he wants to keep the trend going.

To accomplish his goals of going quicker and faster than ever, Reed put pencil to paper and started on a plan over a year ago that finally came to fruition during the winter off-season between 2019 and 2020.

His former setup, Thitek-headed 426ci and Vortech V-7 YSi-B supercharged engine built by Billy Briggs Racing Engines bolted to an RPM Transmission turbo 400 with a Coan converter, would remain in a somewhat similar configuration, just with a whole host of upgrades.

The engine will still be based around a 6.4L Dodge Hellcat block, but Billy Briggs has stuffed it with tons of goodies including a set of billet Gibtec pistons, aluminum GRP connecting rods, Winberg crankshaft, and a Manton valvetrain.

“Thitek did a set of new heads that are pretty intense, and it’s got a new Wilson intake manifold with 4-inch piping on the motor,” added Reed, who also ordered a new custom camshaft from COMP and added a dry-sump oil system to his Challenger for the first time.

With an engine compression ratio in the neighborhood of 12.5:1, Reed also took the liberty of scrapping his former belt-driven supercharger and replacing it with a 94mm Vortech V30 centrifugal supercharger and new gear drive custom-built by The Supercharger Store.

“The old blower was a YS-I, so it was more of a quarter-mile setup where the power comes in later, and the new blower makes more power up front,” explained Reed, who was running in the neighborhood of 17 psi with the previous unit and expects to see boost levels upwards of 25 psi moving forward.

He also switched the setup over to run on methanol and added a set of Billet Atomizer 550-lb fuel injectors. With that change, he was able to remove the intercooler and radiator for a pretty dramatic weight savings. Coupled with a few other small removals, Reed was able to take almost 150-pounds out of the car while still retaining its stock quarter panels, roof, headliner, and door panels.

Last but not least, Reed worked with Rodney Massengale at RPM Transmission to switch up the gearing in his two-speed Turbo 400 gearbox.

The pieces he didn’t mess with other the winter—the SFI 25.3 cage done by Rhodes Custom Auto, Coan torque converter, The Driveshaft Shop driveshaft and CV axles, Menscer Motorsports coilovers, and Holley EFI system with remote-tuning assistance from Dale Heiler at Castle Hill Performance in Australia—will all remain untouched as Reed, a master service technician for Hyundai, wraps up the rest of the beastly build in his home garage.

“I did change the springs and added some more BMR arms to the back to beef up the stock-style suspension, though,” he noted of the minor modifications.

The winter workup was a huge investment for Reed, but he never backs down from a challenge and is hugely motivated to put a hurtin’ on the Hemi world once again.

“I like doing things people say can’t be done with an IRS car,” stated Reed, who intends to be at the front of the Ultra Street pack once he’s back out there. “I might have bit my tongue when I said I’m going 4.40s, but, mark my words, it’s going.”

Although schedules are still tentative due to the ever-evolving pandemic situation, Reed is aiming to get on track in August for testing and then hit a few races in what remains of the 2020 season including the YellowBullet Nationals, the Shakedown Nationals, and the World Cup Finals: Import vs Domestic matchup.

“I’ve been wanting to come run NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street and that’s still my plan for 2021, especially the race at Indy. It just depends on my work and when the schedules align,” shared Reed, who has been hoping to run with NMCA again for the past few years.

Ultimately, Reed plans to end the year by going out with a metaphorical bang instead of a literal one as he pushes the envelope on IRS performance.

Ainsley Jacobs
Ainsley Jacobs
P.TEN Marketing's Ainsley Jacobs is a freelance motorsports marketing professional with extensive experience in marketing and communications, website development, social media management, photography, journalism, and more.