Ford’s latest iteration of the Super Cobra Jet 1800, with Pat McCue at the wheel, registered a record 7.75-second elapsed time at 180.14 mph on Friday afternoon at the NHRA Winternationals.  

“This is an upgraded car, so it's the same chassis, but we've done some pretty significant upgrades to the old car,” Stephen Johnsen, MLE Race Cars engineer, said. “So it may be the same chassis, but we've got a brand-new battery system in the car. It's about 40 percent lighter. We have a new Liberty five-speed in the car. So we've changed over from the three-speed to the five-speed. We have a new rear tire; new rear tire, bigger rear tire. We've back-halved the car. Essentially, we got to where we could with that initial iteration, and ultimately this is a technology test bed for us at Ford Performance at Ford Motor Company. We had to push it a little farther, so we've upgraded the car.

MLE Race Cars, with electrical engineer Chris Brune serving as motor specialist for the Cobra Jet, has partnered with Ford Performance to produce, modify and fine-tune the car.

McCue said, “We have four electric motors in pairs, and there's two pairs stacked up vertically on a gearbox. And that gearbox has straight-cut gears in it. And we made a real conscious choice on that, as well, of whether we wanted straight-cut gears or helical-cut gears. We were sort of going, ‘Well, this is going to be so quiet already. I think we want some noise for the fans to hear.’ And I've been told that if you stand at the end of the track, when you hear it go by, it kind of sounds like a jet car.

“Every sanctioning body is exploring EV or hybrid technology every single one of them now. So everybody's going to have some batteries on their car at some point,” he said. “The NHRA has been deliberate and very thoughtful in how they want to bring these cars out. And they've been great letting us run and do exhibitions when we want to. Rush to competition is not necessarily the best course of action.”

McCue has driven both the Ford Cobra Jet and the electric Copo Camaro, and he said General Motors “wanted to consider what an electric Copo Camaro could look like for the masses. And Ford Performance is very focused on advancing the technology and pushing the limits and trying to come up with the most powerful and the fastest electric drag car there is. And they've done a great job with us to do that. But I would love to see Ford Performance and General Motors and Dodge and maybe Toyota all work towards a lower power sort of entry-level car and then do a little bit of a demonstration program and put guys like Bob Tasca, Tony Stewart, other pro racers in the driver's seat, and rotate those drivers around, maybe even do celebrities. I mean, with half of the power, this car would be a joy to drive. It is still a joy to drive, but it is a bit of a handful.”