If you've met JD Coon of Jena, Louisiana, you already know he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.
And if you've met him and didn't immediately like him, then we're not talking about the same JD Coon. The racing scene, specifically the NMRA circuit, is a breeding ground for camaraderie, sportsmanship, and all-around kind people. But there are a few who stand out in the crowd, and JD is one of those racers.
But there's another side to JD—his competitive side. Throughout his childhood and teenage years, he was a team roper, the kind you see in rodeos. He did really well, but was burnt out by the time he graduated high school in 1999, just before going pro.
Being near the Gulf Coast, he sought out a better-paying career in the oil industry. He got on an oil rig as a roughneck, and while the money was good, it didn't fuel his competitive nature. Working his way up the ranks by slinging pipes and drillin' in the oil fields gave JD extra spending money. When his buddy bought an SVT Lightning in 2002, JD felt the power and got bit by the racing bug.
"It all started when I rode in my best friend's '02 Lightning. Knowing the Lightning had 380 hp from the factory, I went and bought an '03 Dodge Ram 1500 with a 5.7L Hemi with 345 hp," says JD. He raced it locally and says at one point it was the fastest NA Dodge Ram in the country. But after six years and multiple failed transmissions, he decided to swap brands. And while he loves trucks, he passed on the Lightning and went right for the king Mustang, the Shelby GT500.
"I'd done my research. I knew you could pick up 100 hp pretty easily with simple bolt-ons," he says. JD promptly stopped in his local Ford dealership, saw the new black '08 Shelby on the showroom floor, and fell in love. "I traded in the Dodge. I didn't care how much they were going to give me for it—I had to have [the GT500]."
JD's first big outing was at the Fun Ford Weekend event in Dallas in 2008. "I won my first round of racing there," he says. But he craved more power and quicker e.t.'s. By 2009, he began racing in NMRA Super Stang and his first race was in Atco, New Jersey. "I drove the car there—1,300 miles with my slicks in the trunk—and ran 10.90s," JD stated with a chuckle. He also upgraded the blower, added Kooks 13⁄4-inch headers, an off-road X-style pipe and a 3-inch MagnaFlow cat-back and added a few other performance parts.
Coon rowed his way to a 10.03 at 143 mph, all with the factory six-speed, but it was hard to race with the stick. "I kept breaking parts and I wanted more consistency for racing," he added. So a plan for an auto was in order.
And with that, the GT500 was treated to a Brian's Truck Shop (BTS) 4R100 automatic, installed by JDM in New Jersey. The unit is rock solid and the installation looks as if it came from the factory. "The car drives very well with the 4R100 automatic. The tranny and converter are very street friendly. It's very easy to drive down the track—I simply put it in Drive and press the gas."
But it has taken a slew of mods to help JD's black Snake run 9.58 at 143.8 mph. Now supercharged by a 3.4L Whipple and tuned by Jon Lund of Lund Racing, the GT500 pumps out 733 rwhp and 691 lb-ft of torque on 22 psi and Shell URT Advanced fuel. He credits the impressive 1.36 60-foot times (at 3,830 pounds) to the Santhuff suspension components, his chassis guy Robert Folmer (Houston, Texas), and 275mm Mickey Thompson drag radials.
After three years of racing the NMRA circuit, JD finally snagged a win at the '12 NMRA World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky. JD has gone his share of rounds, but for 2014, he's stepping up to the heads-up ranks in NMRA Edelbrock Renegade. Though competition is stiff in pro classes like Renegade, JD isn't fazed. Instead, his bloodthirsty nature has him on the edge of his seat in anticipation of getting his sinister GT500 into the mid-8s, where he can battle in a class full of championship-winning veterans.
I knew you could pick up 100 hp pretty easily with simple bolt-ons.