First Gen 3 Hemi In The 3's

Courtesy Dragzine, February 01, 2023:

Rob Goss Clocks The First Gen III Hemi Run In The 3's!


For the better part of the last decade, Rob Goss and his all-black Hemi-powered Dodge Challenger have been a perennial front-runner in the X275 category, emerging from frequent mechanical woes early on with this unproven combination, to a place of pure dominance, winning races and championships and amassing records  by the handful. From Lights Out, to No Mercy, the World Cup Finals, the NMCA, and other series and venues, Goss’ machine was for years a beacon in 275 drag radial racing, inarguably its most recognizable and well-traveled entry. And so you can imagine the sport’s collective shock when Goss and longtime racing partner Bruce Maichle unloaded at the U.S. Street Nationals in Bradenton, Florida with a fresh look, bigger tires, and entered in an entirely new category for the first time.

After earning a number of penalties for his combination in recent years as a result of dominating, often punishing on-track performances, Goss decided in the offseason it was time to try something new. That something new was the next category up the elapsed-time pecking-order in drag radial racing: Limited Drag Radial.

“Moving classes is mostly due to rules. In X275 we would be 350 to 400 pounds heavier than other small blocks, and on top of that, had to run a 102 blower versus a 106,” Goss explains. “We likely would have made the move sooner if the car had been capable. The X car could get to a race weight of 2,875 to 2,895; our weight in Limited Drag Radial (LDR) for 2022 was 2,675, and I couldn’t run that much overweight. We had the X car scheduled for chassis maintenance and had an appointment with Michael Carbone at MPH Fabrication for the week following our last race. I made the call to go ahead and swap classes the Friday after Orlando. I had a feeling rules wouldn’t be kind to our combination, and if we waited to see, it would be too late for changes. 

“We took the car to MPH on November 18th so he could put it back on his jig and check it over. While there I made the decision to change classes, and Mike went to work cutting it apart and building the new LDR car. Five weeks later he returned the car. It can’t be over stated how impressive that is,” Goss says.

“The car then went to Jamie Bartlebaugh at Modern Street Customs for paint and body work,” he adds. “With swapping classes I wanted to change colors to start fresh and also leave the black car being remembered for what we were able to do with it in X275. Jamie and his guys absolutely killed it. We had all new carbon-fiber built, Jamie built a killer air inlet formed and mounted the hood to the front and did an amazing job. Then Bruce [Maichle] did his thing and reassembled the whole car in less than a week with Danny Anderson’s help. They both literally about killed themselves. We rolled back into Orlando Speed World exactly 60 days after deciding to cut up the car and rebuild.”

“The car is nearly all new. The chassis was cut out and optimized. We used a ton of titanium to help get weight out. Mike came up with an ingenious way of utilizing titanium and attaching it to the steel — it’s trick as ****. All new carbon-fiber that was lighter was put on…trunk lid, doors, front clip with the hood, all new lightweight stuff,” Goss explains. “We kept the factory firewall simply for safety…we talked about putting in a titanium one, but there’s a seal area when doing that where the factory location and titanium meet that’s an area where fire can possibly enter — Bruce wouldn’t do that and take the chance on me being possibly being hurt because of it.”

Already a 4-teen car in its X275 configuration with the potential for more, the transition, mechanically speaking, to Limited Drag Radial, was a relatively minor one.

“We changed some stuff in the transmission, a bit of basic engine modification, and put on a ProCharger F-3R-136 blower. We didn’t do much as far as the powertrain goes…it had been tweaked and maximized for years.”

“After getting the details sorted out we were able to test for a day at Orlando. We were able to get five or six track hits, the first being 60-80 feet, and then a couple 150-foot passes. Then we went to  Bradenton, and Wade at Southern Speed Racing went to work doing what he does best, dialing in the car. Our first pass there we discovered a problem while rolling up to the water box. In the second qualifier, we shut off after the 330-foot mark for safety, and went a 4.06. Our last qualifier we had a big wheelie and didn’t improve our time and ended up 17th. We went into eliminations feeling positive about where we were given all we had to do to get there. Sunday is where we shined, running the .94 for low of the round.”

The 3.944 at 184.72 mph is believed to be the first 3-second run in any category, by any type of car, with a Gen III Hemi, and is likewise a world record for the engine platform. Proving it was no fluke, he backed it up a round later.

“Second round we had the class record holder and number one qualifier, and we ran 3.956 at 180.04, which was again low for the round. Third round we had an issue and were eliminated. Coming into the weekend with a new car in a new class I set some goals for myself, and we met and surpassed them. I had hoped to make a 3-second pass and win one round of racing — we ran a 3.94 and won two rounds. It was a great first outing for us, we learned a lot and will be better at the next stop, Lights Out 14.