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Master of the IRS: John Reed Shatters Late Model HEMI Records, Goes 7s

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Written by Ainsley Jacobs

The only time a racer likes when his (or her) world record gets broken is when he (or she) is the one breaking it. Enter John Reed of Delaware – this HEMI master has set multiple records in his independent rear suspension-equipped ’09 Dodge Challenger, and each time he’s raised the bar on himself.

Reed purchased his Challenger used back in ’10 and used it mostly for street driving and a bit of track fun. He was running 8.60s just a few years later and raced in a few NMCA True Street events with the then-stick shifted and nitrous-huffing Dodge, but delays from a hurt engine meant he had to put his program on hold. “I built a new engine and wound up redoing the whole car, and it came back out late this year,” explained Reed, who hadn’t had the chance to hit the drag strip for about four years. “It’s only got about 18 passes on it now since I rebuilt it, and only eight of those have been in quarter-mile trim.”

Rhodes Custom Auto is responsible for the SFI 25.3 certified roll cage and body work on the beautiful black beast, but Reed – a service technician for Hyundai by day since 2001 –

did the rest of the build himself at home in his garage.

Back in 2015, though, Reed ran right into the record books when he became the first IRS / Late Model HEMI to run in the 8-second zone in the quarter-mile when he went 8.85 at 158 mph at the Modern Street HEMI Shootout. Reed also won the Super Pro and King of the Hill classes at the same event, but never settled on his laurels – just a few months later, he went 8.64 at 163 mph and reset the record which stood for nearly three years.

After another racer claimed the IRS HEMI honors as his own, Reed reintroduced himself to the world be quickly grabbing it back a Cecil County Dragway in August, 2018. With a Thitek-headed 426 ci and Vortech V-7 YSi-B supercharged engine built by Billy Briggs bolted to an RPM Transmission turbo 400 with a Coan converter, Reed clicked off an 8.23 at 160.84 mph pass. To make the numbers even more impressive, he clicked it off after only 1,000 feet as he was on a licensing pass and didn’t want to blow by his certification.

Still equipped with stock quarter panels and roof, Reed’s Challenger utilizes The Driveshaft Shop’s driveshaft, CV axles, and more. The independent rear suspension is still in-tact, of course, and Menscer Motorsports coilovers with BMR Suspension arms and bushings are on board to ensure the Challenger leaves the line properly. “I also run a Holley EFI system and Dale Heiler from Castle Hill Performance in Sydney, Australia, gave me a hand with the baseline tuneup,” noted Reed, who handled most of the setup on his own.

“I built the car to be the first in the sevens on stock suspension, just to prove a point,” Reed continued, “and it took two years to rebuild the car from the new engine and chassiswork.”

Hoping to make good on the goal, Reed went down to Virginia for the Modern Street HEMI Shootout in late September. “I qualified there with an 8.13 at 170 mph and reset the record again but hurt the valve body in the trans. So, we took it apart and Rodney Massengale from RPM overnighted me the parts, I got it fixed, then I went back to Cecil,” recalled Reed, who ran 5.15-second eighth-mile passes in Ultra Street trim.

A few changes in the tune-up and the blower speed, and soon Reed had achieved his run. At another MSHS race on November 3, this time at Atco in New Jersey, Reed drove deep into the sevens for the first time with an impressive 7.85 but easily eclipsed it with an even quicker 7.821 at 177.98 mph blast and a 1.254-second short time. “I went to the finals and red lighted, but I went to make a 7-second pass and that’s what I got so going out wasn’t a big deal to me,” he laughed. “My goal this year was to be the first IRS Gen 3 HEMI in the sevens – and I was.”

Reed claims he’s done for the 2018 season now as the weather starts to turn wintery in the Northeast, but he’s hoping to hit the Ultra Street scene in 2019 and possibly some NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street events so long as his busy schedule permits. Now, it’s just a matter of time before he gets back out there and is able to run his crazy Reed Motorsports Challenger out the back door to see what it can do on a full quarter-mile trip – his target is to go 7.50s.


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