Frank H. Cicerale
April 1, 2009
Photos By: Michael Galimi

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Johnny Lightning
New Providence, PA
'02 Lightning

Team LIGHTNING If there was one vehicle in our supercharged shootout that was at a sizeable disadvantage, it was the Lightning--or so we thought. On paper, the Lightnings should have been a step or two behind both the GT500s and the Cobras. With the lightest truck coming in at a svelte 4,300 pounds, the lightest Lightning was still 500 pounds heavier than the heaviest GT500, and 700 pounds than the heftiest Cobra. No matter which way you cut it, 4,300 pounds is a lot to get moving, not to mention the aerodynamic disadvantage. While the Lightning is helped out by the inclusion of a 5.4L Triton mod motor, the powerplant is handicapped in a sense by the Two-Valve heads. In an effort to try and level the playing field, we allowed the Lightning crew to remove the tailgate and the passenger seat, if they chose to do so. All but one competitor yanked the passenger seat, and half of the Lightning owners removed the tailgate. The Kenne Bell blowers seemed to be the supercharger of choice with the Lightning crowd, as three out of the four entrants ran one. There were no manual trans conversions since the trucks came standard with the 4R100 overdrive trans. When all was said and done, though, the Lightning trucks weren't at as big of a disadvantage as we thought they were. Not bad for trucks that weigh more, have different weight transfer characteristics, and less valves.

If you read the opening, then nothing more needs to be said about the exploits of Johnny Lightning at our SVT Smackdown. The proprietor of Johnny Lightning Performance wasn't going to let anyone else beat him, so after opening with a stout 9.87, Lightning started playing with the tune and the boost pressure to try and run even quicker. After three passes resulting in a traction-limited pair of 10-second runs and another 9-second rip, Lightning went for broke on the last run. By now you know he went a stellar 9.56, but to do so Lightning swapped the upper pulley to jack the boost level up. The result was a bright orange flash that proved the supercharged behemoth known as the Lightning can hold its own against the nimbler Cobra and GT500.

Year: 2002
Model: Lightning
Owner: Johnny Lightning
Driver: Johnny Lightning
Engine: 360ci Two-Valve modular built
  by Johnny Lightning
Transmission: JLP aftermarket automatic
Clutch/Converter: Precision Industries
Supercharger: 2.8L Kenne Bell twin-screw
Boost: 23 psi
Weight: 4,268 pounds
Exhaust: Bassani/JLP Competition Race
Tuner: Johnny Lightning (Johnny
  Lightning Performance)
Rear: {{{Ford}}} 9.75-inch, 3.55 gears,
  TrueTrac differential, stock
Best e.t./mph: 9.510/143.00
Run 60-foot E.T. MPH
1 1.371 9.565 141.49
2 1.382 9.874 135.82
3 1.398 9.943 134.11