Rod Jones’s ’33 Ford runs 10s at Drag Challenge 2022/23

Rod achieved his 10-second dreams with a brace of PBs on DC

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Michelle Porobic

UPDATE, February 8: After his diff-killing run at Drag Challenge 2018 in his 427 Chev-powered ’33 Ford sedan, Rod Jones came into DC2022/23 better prepared.

The car now features a nine-inch with a housing fabbed by Jake Szabo of Shift-One Automotive Fabrication, and a 3.89:1 centre built by Rod himself.

It’s hooked to a 4L80E four-speed auto, also courtesy of Rod. “I’d never built an automatic before, I’m a manual transmission specialist,” Rod said on day four of Drag Challenge. “I work on lots of six-speeds for V8 Supercars, and all sorts of off-road gearboxes. I did lots of research, and there’s nothing you can’t learn off YouTube.”

A throttle position sensor hangs off the side of the carby to manage the auto’s shift points. “The trans controller needs to know what your right foot is doing,” Rod pointed out.

There’s an Allfast-supplied lock-up torque converter in the middle, which Rod said makes a huge difference to the car’s road manners. “It’s fantastic; it does 120 or 130 kays if you want it to. The revs come right down.”

He switches the ’box to race mode on the track, which stops the overdrive shift and prevents the converter from locking. “I just put it in D, mash it to the floor, and put two hands on the wheel. When I get to the end of the track I flick it to street mode to drive back down, else it won’t shift ‘til max RPM.”

Though he hadn’t raced the car since DC2018, Rod had managed three PBs over three days when we spoke with him on Friday afternoon. I went 11.1 here on Tuesday which was a PB for the car, and tonight I’m hoping to run my first 10,” he explained.

Rod handed over a 10.87@121mph on Friday night for his best of the week, earning fifth place in Pacemaker Radial Aspirated.

“I’ve got some changes I want to make to the rear end; I’m not totally happy with the way it handled this week,” Rob admitted. “It’s the first time I’ve been able to leave the line under full power, and it just squats way too hard in the rear. I’ve got a Gazzard Bros anti-roll bar kit at home, so I want to fit that and do some changes to the shocks in the rear and hopefully get the 60-foot down.

I’ve got some good friends in drag racing, and they said the car’s got more potential if I iron out a few bugs here and there and get more comfortable.”

With no more than a minor axle seal leak over the entire week’s driving, the ’33 has now proven itself as a reliable 10-second street car, with more in the tank to go even harder.

The story to here

March 5, 2019: Rod met the Drag Challenge deadline with a week to spare. “But I knew my 8¾-inch Mustang diff with 4.11s would be the weak link; I expected to break an axle,” he said. Sure enough, the diff let go on Day Two at Swan Hill, though a broken carrier was the issue.

Hot Rod at Drag ChallengeA mate’s mate soon located another centre in Mildura, and six hours later, Rod was back at Swan Hill to fit the $250 single-spinner 2.78:1 innards. Then he was again Mildura-bound, via the designated DC route.

Hot Rod at Drag ChallengeRod set his Drag Challenge PB on Day One with an 11.94-second pass, backing off at the 1000ft so as not to go too quick. Then on Friday, with one timeslip under his belt, he hit full throttle, albeit with salt-lake gearing. “It still ran 11.50 seconds, so I’m sure that it’s a 10-second car,” he said. “It has 580hp at the flywheel, so now I’ll swap my T700 for a 4L80E and put a nine-inch with low gears in the rear.

Hot Rod“Going into Drag Challenge, I just wanted that survivor sticker. Now for 2019 I want to run 10s and be in the Radial Aspirated Top 10.”


Drag Challenge Class: Pacemaker Radial Aspirated