Elisa Brooks
August 12, 2011
Photos By: Justin Cesler

Forty years after its debut, Ford brought back the iconic Cobra Jet, of which 50 were built strictly for racing competition in 2008.

Ford thrilled us again in 2010 and 2012, producing 50 more CJs per year that are NHRA-legal animals bred to dominate on the dragstrip.

The opportunity for owning a FR500CJ Cobra Jet isn't even a thought that flutters through most of our minds, as they are rare and expensive. It's not something easily attainable for the average Joe, so can you imagine owning not one, but five of these amazing machines?

It's hard not to be just a little bit envious of New Jersey native Anthony Bongiovanni. A mechanical engineer by trade, Anthony started his own computer software and hardware firm, Micro Strategies, about 28 years ago. And through his hard work, he's been able to live out his dream of being the proud owner of two original Cobra Jets and three full-tilt clones-each one with a story and special purpose.

It's easy to envy Anthony since he has the coolest toys, but the truth is, you won't meet a nicer or more humble guy. With such impeccable taste in high-performance vehicles, it's hard to believe his first visit to a dragstrip was only a short five years ago. What is even more interesting is that Anthony went from owning none to owning six Mustangs in a year's time.

"I went to the track to watch my friend Ray Scardelli race in Super Stock with my younger daughter, Michelle, who was eight at the time," stated Anthony. "She was so excited, and Ray suggested that I get a Jr. Dragster for her," he added. So that's what he did, and before long his two daughters were involved in drag racing.

Anthony has always been a car nut, even as a kid. He loved anything with an engine, and wanted to eventually get involved in motorsports, but being a dedicated business owner and father, finding spare time was a challenge. But with his daughters, Genna and Michelle (13 and 9 years old at the time respectively), racing NHRA junior dragsters, he was finally able to tap into the unshakable passion of high-performance drag racing.

Over the next few years Anthony watched his girls excel as racers, and the unbreakable bond between father and daughters created even more motivation to take racing to the next level-and just in time, as his oldest daughter began to outgrow the junior circuit.

Anthony decided to build Genna a "real" car, and he was captivated by the S197 body style that had just been released. His search began for a six-cylinder Mustang to turn into an NHRA Stocker, but he ended up finding the perfect pair of project cars-two '08 S197 Mustangs.

With the help of Ray Scardelli, Anthony's original plan was to turn one of the S197s into a Shelby to run the NHRA Stock Eliminator class and then forge a plan for the second car later on. But trying to piece it together with Shelby parts was a lot harder than he originally anticipated, and at the time, Ford had just announced a sweeter deal in the Cobra Jet program. As he browsed the Ford Racing website, Anthony zeroed in on the CJ exterior kit with all of the parts he needed to turn this Mustang into a serious drag racer.

Like a mad scientist, he strategized on how he could create a blazing Pony for his little girl. Anthony also had the itch to go fast, and he got underway with the second S197 Mustang so the father-and-daughter team could take their new passion to the next level together. You know what they say-a family that races together stays together!

The build commenced for the first '08 Mustang, and Anthony sent the soon-to-be NHRA-legal Mustang off to B&B Race Cars in Hohenwald, Tennessee, for the chassis build. Darren and Anne Breaud of B&B are known for their high-quality workmanship and performance, so big expectations were set. Anthony decided on a Three-Valve engine that went to B&B Performance Machine in Rahway, New Jersey, for the ultimate buildup, and the car would run in NHRA as a base GT.

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