A lot of car folks have that one vehicle from their younger years that they let get away. Often people will possess a bit of regret for selling a known classic, but these feelings are not shared by Chris Hereford. You see, Hereford owns the exact same 1998 Ford Cobra his father owned when Hereford was in the seventh grade. He spent his youth wrenching on this Cobra, fell in love with the car, and didn’t make the mistake of letting it go. Instead, he bought it from his father and transformed this SN95 chassis into a drag racing phenomenon– a Cobra that runs low fives in the 1/8-mile without nitrous or a turbo.
“I’ve got a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this car,” said Hereford. He and his dad, Mark , spent time openly tracking cars and putting down laps around road courses in California at places like Sonoma, Laguna Seca, and Thunderhill. “My dad and I disagree on the definition of fast,” said Hereford. “As a road racer, he thinks 400 horsepower is about right, where I think 800 horsepower is just getting started.” Once the Cobra was transitioning from road courses to drag strips, everything had to be changed.
Hereford used the money he earned from joining the Coast Guard to purchase the Cobra from his dad. Joining the military meant he would of course have to leave his home town of Campbell, California. The Coast Guard allowed him to travel the country and, as such, Hereford has raced the Cobra at more than just the usual Northern California dragstrips. As the car made more and more passes, Hereford started modifying it to find that sweet spot of performance using nothing more than a 281 modular block and a belt-driven Vortech YSI supercharger.
Full disclosure, Hereford has had four different engines in this car. Sometimes going fast comes at a price. In 2014, after another engine failure, he decided to go big. He gave the car to Drew Wallace of AED Racing to create the car you see today. Drew ripped out all of the road racing suspension and replaced it with a drag racing-specific setup from Racecraft. The transmission was then replaced with a Freddy Brown 4R70. The worn out JT-Trim Vortech was swapped out for the YSI unit. Drew at AED set the chassis up to work perfectly with a Mickey Thompson Pro Bracket Radial tire.
When Hereford was transferred by the Coast Guard to Mobile, Alabama, he decided to upgrade the safety of the car and added an 8.50-certified chromoly cage installed by M&M Chassis. “I realized 900 horsepower on the street was extremely dangerous,” Chris admitted. The car has continued to be modified, and that horsepower number likewise continues to grow.
Under the hood, AED Racing installed a 281 cubic-inch Ford Teksid modular engine block. The block was outfitted with a Kellogg forged crank, Manley billet I-beams, and JE pistons. The 2004 Terminator Cobra heads were equipped with Comp Cams, Ferrera valves, Ford GT rocker arms, and Livernois springs. The engine uses an Accufab throttle body, Holley Dominator EFI, and Kooks headers. The real power comes from the Vortech YSI-B blower. All of this power is tuned by Drew Wallace at AED Racing. Even when Hereford is in Alabama and Drew is in Idaho, Drew still looks at run logs and continues to tune the Cobra for optimum performance.
All of that performance was used for a good cause: a win at Hereford’s first major event. It was a SoCo275 series event held at Emerald Coast Raceway in Holt, FL, in October of 2021. Hereford and his entire family made the drive to Emerald Coast. “I was just hoping to win one round and I thought that would have been a success,” said Hereford. “I went round after round, so late that the final round wasn’t held until 1:30 a.m. It was getting so late that the dew point was setting in on the windshield as we headed down the track for the last pass.”
Hereford’s wife and daughter had to head home before the late finals, but Hereford’s son, Brayden, stuck around to watch the action. The final race of the night would be Hereford in his Medusa Cobra running a stock-bore block and a Vortech blower against a big-block Chevy S-10 with two stages of nitrous. “His exhaust exited his fender right at my helmet,” said Hereford. “It was so loud I couldn’t hear myself think!” When the lights dropped the Chevy shook the tires. Hereford stayed in it, even with water droplets from the dew hitting the windshield. The Chevy hit the second stage and spun the tires again. As Hereford hit the finish line at the 1/8mile he ran a 5.40 at 127 MPH. The truck crossed the line at 130 using the nitrous to try and catch him, but it wasn’t to be Chevy’s day. Brayden recorded the run and. Chris watched the footage later he heard the excitement in his son’s voice as the race went down, “That made me realize every dollar I have put into this project has been worth it.”
After a 5.3-second 1/8-mile pass during the Mod Nationals, his Cobra became the quickest modular engine car in the world running only with a belt-driven supercharger. Hereford has more up his sleeve to get that number down. “My goal is to get this car down to 5.1 or even better, into the 4-second range, using a belt-driven blower. After that is done I may consider switching to a turbo.” Hereford has a new set of carbon-fiber doors to help drop weight and a new torque converter dialed in to help crush the 1/8=-mile and complete his goal of the fours.
As a Californian drag racing in Alabama, Hereford talked about the differences in racing between the two coasts, “Here in Alabama you will find a clapped-out death trap of a Fox body Mustang that will run in the fours while spraying lots of nitrous due to the humidity. In California, you wouldn’t see that type of car, instead it would be a Fox body Mustang that looks car show-quality running those numbers.” Regardless of the coast or the style of race car, Hereford knows what he likes, and he has built it: a show-quality Cobra that will someday touch the fours.