Stephanie Davies Associate Online Editor
November 10, 2014
Photos By: Marc Christ

Mitchell owns this easily recognizable ’04 Mustang Cobra. If heads-up drag racing is your bag, you’ve probably seen his Cobra tearing apart the competition in the NMRA Renegade class and bringing home three Renegade championship titles.

“I started running NMRA Renegade by luck in 1999 by showing up to the first-ever NMRA race with a car that fit the rules,” said Mitchell, referring to a street-driven 1987 Mustang convertible. “I never looked back. I spent the first few years learning, and then by 2003, I had a winning race car.”

By 2007, Mitchell decided it was time to build an all-new, purpose-built race car to give the competition a run for its money. He browsed Craigslist until he found the perfect specimen for his project. The next year and a half was spent transforming this 2004 Cobra into the beast you see here.

“The car debuted in 2008, and I won with it the first time out,” Mitchell told us. “It has continued to be a top-notch car, winning championship after championship.”

So what gives this Cobra an edge on the track? The foundation is a fuel-injected Ford 302ci engine bored 0.080 over to 310 cubes, with a compression ratio of 9.5:1. A Bryant Racing 2.94-inch stroke crankshaft works in conjunction with Ross Racing pistons via Oliver Racing Parts connecting rods. When asked about the machine work performed by HD Performance and Parts in Athens, Tennessee, Mitchell simply told us it has “every trick in the book.”

The Cobra also boasts a Bullet Racing Cams 55mm roller camshaft, Edelbrock Victor Jr. aluminum cylinder heads (full CNC race-ported by HD Performance), and titanium intake and exhaust valves (2.08/1.60-inch), as well as Jesel steel Y2K rocker arms with a ratio of 1.5:1.

The Cobra features an engine control module from Big Stuff 3, and Mitchell handles the tuning himself. A Weldon fuel pump works in conjunction with 160-lb/hr injectors and a Weldon regulator keeps the pressure in check. Ignition consists of an MSD Digital-7 ignition box with MSD coil, distributor, and wires. And a Holley Systemax intake manifold sits atop the powerplant with an Accufab 75R throttle body. A Moroso oil pan with a Titan oil pump seal the bottom end, along with a windage tray and crank scraper.

The Cobra roars through Kooks custom headers, which flow through 4-inch pipes to Flowmaster mufflers. Of course, a sweet Vortech YSi supercharger system producing upwards of 35 pounds of maximum boost is a major component in Mitchell’s success on the track. The result of the build is the production of 1,200 hp.

Shifting duty is handled by a Ford C4 transmission built by Pro-Formance Transmissions of Newark, Delaware, with a stall speed of 6,000 rpm. A B&M trans cooler keeps it all cool. An aluminum driveshaft is kept secure with a custom safety loop. Speaking of safety, the stock interior is equipped with a Demon Motorsports 25.5 cage.

Of course, without a decent suspension, all that power might be for naught. UPR suspension components include a tubular K-member and lower control arms, front springs, and Santhuff struts. Out back is a UPR antiroll bar as well as custom rear upper control arms (and mounts) that work with AFCO rear shocks. A 9-inch rearend with 3.88 gears and Moser axles and spool makes for a strong creation capable of delivering serious horsepower to the wheels.

Weld AlumaStar wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires all around provide traction for clean launches, while Aerospace Components brakes up front and carbon fiber Strange Engineering brakes out back provide serious stopping power.

Mitchell says that his favorite thing about his Cobra is that it “makes his job easy. It just works. The tires stick and it goes right down the track.” He says, “The chassis was built by Demon Motorsports and it goes as straight as an arrow.”

His best quarter-mile time can attest to that: 8.14 seconds at 177 mph with a 1.17-second 60-foot time. Mitchell and the Cobra have taken home the title of NMRA National Champion in the NMRA Renegade class in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

And what about the Cobra’s eye-catching and memorable paint scheme? Well, Mitchell says that the wizard and lightning theme (custom airbrush done by Art Simpson of Newark, Delaware) has been good to him the past few years, but don’t expect to see the Cobra looking as it does here next season. “I’m going to paint it over the winter,” he told us. “It won’t be blue—I think we’ll go either black or flat black but we’re going to keep the wizard theme and some of the lightning theme. It needs to be freshened up a bit. I want to give people a reason to look at it again.”

And that’s not the only thing that is different for the Cobra. Due to recent changes in the NMRA Renegade rulebook, Mitchell has had to completely switch up his build. Look for him at the next NMRA race you attend. You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of what’s going on under the hood.