Ronnie Hobbs has had his hands on tons of cool cars over the years, including his No Prep “Texas Rattlesnake” Chevy S10 truck, as well as Rod Saboury’s Legendary Pro Street ’57 Corvette. He took ownership of his current Pro Mod ’17 Mustang GT350 in late ’19 knowing the record-setting car was more than a capable contender, but he already had bigger plans for it.
Hobbs, who is based out of Texas and certainly not afraid to stand out, quickly got to work making the Larry Jeffers Race Cars-built Mustang his own by changing its former blue and black paint scheme over to a more eye-popping red instead. It wasn’t just the aesthetics that Hobbs wanted to change, though, as he was planning a complete power adder swap from twin-turbo to ProCharger.
It wasn’t a quick decision and Hobbs spent serious time thinking through the strategy to best optimize his program. The Pro Mod Mustang has run 3.50s in the past, as it once set the Radial vs the World record with a 3.57-second elapsed time and the PDRA Pro Boost speed record with a 218-mph trip, but Hobbs has had trouble getting back to that, especially considering he’s often had to run over-weight simply to try and keep the car’s front end down.
“Daniel [Pharris] was already headed down this road before I bought the car [from him], he had two motors and a spare front end for the ProCharger, which I purchased,” explained Hobbs, who has been busy honing his driving skills behind the wheel of the powerful Pro Mod, but knows he’s leaving plenty on the table. “I think it’s clear that, regardless of what Donald [Long] says, the turbos are difficult to tune and difficult to be consistent.”
Hobbs’s most recent outings included Lights Out 11 in February at South Georgia Motorsports Park, the Throwdown in T-Town at Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park, and the Mid-West Pro Mod Series race at Texas Motorplex in Dallas, Texas, in late May.
“There are two people in the world that can tune this car—Jamie Miller and Steve Petty—but, due to Covid-19, Jamie couldn’t come to either of the last two,” noted Hobbs, who hired Tim Davis and was happy with the results but still wanted more. “I had a talk with Steve, Jamie, and Eric [Dillard of Pro Line Racing] and they’re telling me there’s no easier way than a ProCharger.”
As many advancements in PLR’s engine program have been made over the past few months, as well as redesigned intake manifolds and other components becoming available, Hobbs decided to send his 526ci engines back to the builder to finally move forward with the NHRA-legal ProCharger F3X-140 supercharger swap.
In the meantime, crew man Grant O’Rourke has been hard at work getting the Mustang ready for its new boost maker. “He took the gas tank off, put in a new motor plate to raise the engine 5/8” to clear the rack, and has some more work to do,” Hobbs explained of what’s been going on behind the scenes.
Hobbs will soon be bringing his Chevy S10 out for his son, Landon, to race and the Mustang will come along for the ride. “We’ll load them into the trailer next week then take both to ADRL, but won’t unload the Mustang. After the race, Grant will leave Dallas and go to Georgia,” said Hobbs of the road trip that will conclude with O’Rourke setting up shop at RK Racecraft and Homier Fabrications. “He’ll build the new fuel tank and zoomies, and do the carbon work. Hopefully, in four weeks, the Mustang will be ready to return to Dallas for testing.”
Keeping a close eye on the results of his fellow Pro Mod drivers lately has validated Hobbs’s choice to ditch the snails. Seeing turbo cars struggling to keep up with other combinations, and seeing how well ProCharger power has been performing lately, has given him high hopes.
Although he’s been trying to keep the swap a secret, people talk when changes occur to a car of this caliber. Between sending the converters and rear end gears out for changes, and talks with Pro Line Racing and M&M Transmission, word has gotten out. “With Pro Line behind us, I know it’ll be successful,” added Hobbs. “It’s going to save us time, money, and headaches so we can do less work but have more fun.”