Behind the wheel of Brent Hajek's '08 four-speed-equipped CJ was John Calvert, a seasoned California racer with a staunch knowledge of horsepower and suspension. Calvert is the man behind the popular Caltrac's traction system used by many drag racers, and is known for his prowess with a four-speed transmission.
"Our main objective with the CJ was to put out a professional efort [at the Winternationals]," John stated. "I wanted the car to be competitive run after run. If we didn't embarrass anyone at Ford, we'd done our job." John didn't embarrass anyone in route to winning the 2009 NHRA season opener.
After making history, Ford could have clipped the program at 50 cars, and walked away—point proved. Instead, it used the momentum to catapult the CJ program into one of the most successful factory racecars of all time. In addition to the 50 '08 CJs, Ford has built 50 examples in the '10, '12, and '13 model years, (the '14s are in the works).
To be eligible for NHRA competition in Stock and Super Stock, a car need not wear a correct VIN for the claimed combination, however, it must be built to the correct specs for the combo. With this rule, many more racers can participate.
I wanted the car to be competitive run after run. If we didn't embarrass anyone at ford, we'd done our job.
This leads us to Calvert's clean 2010 CJ clone, built from FRPP's Body-In-White program, which was ofered a few years back. The Mustang is part of Calvert's fleet, which includes his '68 Super Stock Mustang, his '08 CJ (though not the one he won the Winternats in) and a '64 Fairlane A/SA Stocker. Both he and his son Brent plan to race the Stang, while his other son, Johnny, will run the Fairlane.
Pop the 'glass hood and you will not find the popular supercharged 5.4L or 5.0L under there. Those blown Cobra Jets have received much attention, but this one is powered by a 428-inch pushrod mill that fits within the Stock Eliminator rules.
"We have a supercharged engine, but the 428 is simpler and it will last longer," John stated. To get max power from the combo, John relied on Chris Holbrook Racing Engines of Livonia, Michigan. Owner Chris Holbrook competes in a similar CJ and is well-versed in extracting every last pony within the NHRA's Stock Eliminator guidelines.
The big Windsor kicks out about 600 horsepower thanks to a 4.13/4.0-inch-bore/stroke arrangement with FRPP heads. A Comp Cams stick sports 0.589-inch lift and 260 degrees of duration at 0.050. Inside, you'll also find Jesel rockers, and a crushing 13:1 compression ratio. The big-inch small-block is regularly spun to nearly 8,000 rpm. As per the rules, the engine wears a Ford single-plane intake and carb-style throttle body, injection comes by way of a Big Stuf 3 EFI, and fuel is fed by an Aeromotive system.
Despite his stick-shift prowess, John chose a C4 for this beast. An ATI 6,000-rpm stall converter backs the small-block and connects to the three-speed built by Joel's On Joy, and 4.86:1 gearing can be found in the 9-inch rear. "I looked at my career with a stick, but at the same time, I feel I may have been more successful with an automatic, and I wanted to give my son Brent the option to race either way. We have a stick ready to go," he added.
"I have twin boys and they will be running two cars. The auto is also more predictable, less work intensive, and can be more competitive, but they have the freedom to make their own choice," he added.
You'll notice the clean craftsmanship of the Mustang, especially in the custom cage that was built in-house. Team Calvert has also finely tuned the suspension, using tricks with shock valving. This has translated to 9.80s at 135 mph with 60-foot times in the 1.30 range.
"Brent has been to the semi-finals at the Winternationals," John stated, "and I've gone some rounds with it at a few divisional races. Brent also competes in PSCA and NMCA events in the Mustang Madness and Quick Street classes."
Drag racing is in Calverts' blood, as is the Ford Mustang (and, of course, his Fairlane). It's not likely you'll see the family racing anything else, which is good for us and bad for the competition.