WELD Racing in Cobra vs. Shelby GT500 Shootout

Ford’s Boosted Stallions go head-to-head in quarter-mile warfare

One of the most hotly contested classes at the recently held NMRA All-Ford World Finals was the WELD Racing Cobra/Terminator vs. GT500 Shootout. The Cobra vs. GT500 Shootout is the ultimate stomping ground for SVT Cobras and 2007-2014 Shelby GT500s, which represent the ultimate in straight-line Mustang performance. Both models feature a supercharged and intercooled V8 right from the factory and WELD Racing is proud to host them in a head-to-head where the winner can take home up to $5,000 in purse, contingency, and WELD wheels!

Produced in 2003 and ’04, the SVT “Terminator” Cobra was powered by a 4.6L dual-over-head cam (DOHC) engine producing 390 horsepower in factory trim. The Terminator engine featured forged internals, so reaching 800-plus hp is no problem. In 2007 Ford introduced the mighty Shelby GT500, a Mustang that upped the ante with a 5.4L (DOHC) engine producing an unheard-of-at-the-time 500 horsepower. By 2013, Ford put the screws to the Shelby GT500, with increased displacement to 5.8L and a ridiculous 663 hp on tap.

As you can imagine, there’s a serious rivalry between SVT Cobra and GT500 enthusiasts, which was played out in the NMRA Weld Racing Cobra/Terminator vs GT500 Shootout that took place in Bowling Green, Kentucky this past September.

According to Rollie Miller of the NMRA, “The Cobra/Terminator vs. GT500 Shootout is open to any stock-appearing, VIN-verified 1996 to 2004 SVT Cobra or 2007-to-2014 Shelby GT500 with a 4.6L, 5.4L, or 5.8L modular engine. The OEM chassis must remain, but popular bolt-on modifications are permitted along with any street- or race-style rear tires.”

A total of 23 WELD Racing Cobra and GT500 racers from 15 states rolled into scenic Beech Bend Raceway Park to settle the score in a heads-up, quarter-mile smackdown. In addition to bragging rights, WELD Racing provided the winner with a set of WELD wheels (product certificate)—with a value of up to $4,000. And combined with the winning prize, the Shootout winner walked away with over $5,000 in purse, contingency, and WELD wheels.

Qualifying began Friday, and after three sessions, Keith Rhea of Durry, Pennsylvania captured on the pole with his quick 2004 SVT Cobra that ripped off a 7.304 at 193.38 mph. In fact, the top three spots were held by Cobra Mustangs. They included Rhea, Tim Oswalt (7.66/141 mph) and Kenneth Woody who ran 7.97 at 171 mph. The 2017 winner, Ryan Aycock, slipped into the 4th spot with his 2012 Shelby GT500 running 8.17 at 166 mph. It took the run of 9.19 at 151 mph by David Bowen to crack the top half of the field.

Qualifying was important as the odd number of entries meant there would be a First-round bye run. That honor went to Rhea, who stormed to an 8.18, but at only 128 mph. Aycock was a favorite, but he had trouble off the line and was upset by Brad Elander, who ran his ’98 SVT Cobra to a 9.49 at 148 mph. In all the remaining matchups the better-qualified car took the win.

In the second frame, Elander fell to Jammye McQuado (9.12 to 9.50); Rhea bested Jesse Ketive (9.03 to 10.76); Randy Thomas defeated Michael Thomas (8.59 to 11.61); Larry Thomas outran Nicholas Shortridge (8.51 to 9.32); Kenneth Woody beat Taylor Baker (8.70 to 8.74); and Dwayne Hickman rolled his 2012 GT500 past the ’03 Cobra of Tim Oswalt on a wild holeshot, with Hickman’s 9.47 beating Oswalt’s much quicker 9.17.

With the field down to 6, there was a trio of GT500s and a trio of SVT Cobras. Randy Thomas nailed a holeshot against Hickman and then outran him (8.62 to 8.86) for the win. Larry Thomas got away first (.046 to .056) against Woody and then marched to the win, ensure there would be a Cobra in the semi-finals. And in the last match, McQuado went green and ran 9.17 to take out number-one qualifier Keith Rhea, who fouled away his chance at gold.

This left the lone SVT Cobra of Larry Thomas and the pair of GT500s driven by McQuado, and Randy Thomas who had the competition bye run. Larry Thomas ripped a great .039 light, while McQuado was late with a .220 reaction. Thomas also has the stronger Ford, running 8.69 at 139 to McQuado’s 9.32/154 mph effort. Thomas took the tree and idled to a 15-second pass, no doubt, going easy on his pony.

As if it was scripted, the Thomas vs Thomas (no relation) final came down to a SVT Cobra and a Shelby GT500. The pair of boosted ponies returned to do battle, heated the tires and staged carefully. Larry Thomas in his Screaming Yellow Cobra moved first on green (.062 to .072), gaining a slight advantage out of the gate. But Randy Thomas wasn’t about to give up, as he poured the coals to his 2010 Grabber Blue Shelby. By half-track, the pair was door-to-door and at the stripe Randy Thomas had a nose on the yellow Cobra. Randy crossed first, running 8.39 at 163 mph to Larry’s 8.51 at 159 mph, and that helped him secure the win in the WELD Racing Cobra/Terminator vs. GT500 Shootout.

“I live on consistency,” said an elated Randy Thomas.” “It’s a 4,100 lb street car and what’s cool is that the car 60-foots in the 1.23 range, that’s what it had in the final. I normally run True Street, but I decided to focus on the Shootout in Bowling Green.”

Thomas’s Shelby is powered by a BES Racing Engines 5.8L Trinity block with GT500 heads, custom blower cams, 10:1 compression, and a 4.7L Kenne Bell blower making 25 psi of boost. It has American Racing 2-inch headers, 3 ½-inch midpipe and 3-inch exhaust out the back with Ford Performance KR mufflers. According to Thomas, the Ford develops 1,100 RWHP and over 900 lb-ft of torque. “It’s also got a Turbo 400, a Neil Chance converter and a BMR suspension with a few parts from Steeda. And Tig Vision fabricated the cage/anti-roll bar.

“I’m using a MT 275 Pro tire, which hooks good.” Said Thomas. “I was getting the car cooled down because they said Larry had a little surprise for us. We talked about it and decided not to make any changes, just to go have fun. And it was an awesome race. We left close, got evened out, and I think I pulled on him around half-track. The reliability and durability is great, but you always want to get through it. And when you win it’s exhilarating!” he told us.

“As always, I was grateful for the safety and then you get that gut feeling and you get emotional. It’s like that any time you get a win, and especially when you’re fighting to and the prizes are so great. Larry and I were grinning ear-to-ear it was a really good drag race. The WELD wheels have had my eye for a long time and I’ve wanted a set of them for a while. I’m fortunate enough to have five Shelby, so I have a lot of wheels. And I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to get a set.” 

Qualifying

1. Keith Rhea, 2004 Cobra, 7.30/193 mph

2. Tim Oswalt, 2003 Cobra, 7.66/141 mph

3. Kenneth Woody, 2003 Cobra, 7.97/171 mph

4. Ryan Aycock, 2012 GT500, 8.17/166 mph

5. Randy Thomas, 2010 GT500, 8.38/164 mph

6. Larry Thomas, 2004 Cobra, 8.42/161 mph

7. Jesse Ketive, 2003 Cobra, 8.74/158 mph

8. Dwayne Hickman, 2012 GT500, 8.76/157

9. Taylor Baker, 2004 Cobra, 8.77/164 mph

10. Jammye McQuado, 2007 GT500, 9.01/154 mph

11. David Bowen, Mustang, 9.19/151

12. Nicholas Shortridge, 2003 Cobra, 9.32/164 mph

13. Corey Penton, 2004 Cobra, 9.37/135 mph

14. EJ Pawlowicz, 2004 Cobra, 9.81/115 mph

15. Brad Elander, 1998 Cobra, 9.84/153 mph

16. Kenneth Dillon, 2003 Cobra, 10.05/134 mph

17. Jeff Smith, 2004 Cobra, 10.04/140 mph

18. Chad Creamer, 2004 Cobra, 10.22/133 mph

19. Caleb Emberson, 2003 Cobra, 11.02/118 mph

20. Chris Cline, 2010 GT500, 11.16/126 mph

21. Lucas Clark, 2003 Cobra, 11.79/123 mph

22. Michael Thomas, 2013 GT500, 12.24/129 mph

23. Sean Berry, 1998 Cobra, 14.52/97 mph  

 WINNER—$4,000 Product Certificate from WELD Racing in Cobra vs. Shelby GT500 Shootout

• Winner Receives WELD Racing $4,000 Product Certificate + Payout + Contingency