Bill Tumas was tired of sinking money into his constantly broken, supercharged '91 GT. So, in April 1999 the North Wales, Pennsylvania, resident purchased a black '96 Cobra with just 2,500 miles on the clock. "I had been reading about the Four-Valve cars," Bill says. "After bringing [the '96 Cobra] home, I immediately installed pulleys, a Flowmaster after-cat, and a Pro-5.0 shifter. Soon after, I took the Cobra to the track with my good friend Andrew 'Krimpet' Bauer to see what the car would do against his bolt-on, AOD-equipped '98 GT." Bill was rewarded with 13.6s at 102 mph to Krimpet's 14.0s at 98 mph. "I was impressed with how well the Cobra ran with such minimal mods. So was Krimp-two weeks later he rolled up to my house in his own '96 Cobra."
Because Krimpet's Cobra was the same Laser Red color as his former GT, he hoped his parents wouldn't notice it was a different car. Well, they did notice, but they were actually cool with their son's new purchase. And so the mods began.
Meanwhile, Bill was upgrading his Cobra with 4.10 gears, a Dr. Gas X-pipe, a Steeda timing adjuster, and a mail-order performance chip. With Krimpet following suit, their race for the 12s was off to a furious start.
Bill won that race by running a 12.98 at 106 mph and making a final-round appearance a few weeks later at a domestic-versus-import shootout. Shortly thereafter, Krimpet borrowed Bill's new drag radials and busted out a 12.84 at 105 mph to lower the bar even more. Even their mutual friend Brian Kirk got in on the action by getting a '97 Cobra and outfitting it accordingly.
All three attended a Fun Ford race, and even though none of them made it past the first couple rounds of eliminations, Bill bested Krimpet and Brian with a 12.88 at 105 mph. At the '00 Modular Shootout, the trio once again lined 'em up to see who could run the quickest. Bill and Brian ran in the Four-Valve N/A class while Krimpet was lured to the bracket class and the prospect of winning a Paxton supercharger. Bill finished runner-up to Barry Shepard, and Brian took third in the Four-Valve N/A class. Krimpet lasted two rounds in the bracket class and went home blowerless.
With each of them surpassing the 12-second zone, the 11s became their next goal. Bill's black Cobra was the first to go under the knife at the hands of Jimmy Chahalis at LaRocca's Performance, where 4.56 gears, a 31-spline Traction-Lok, Moser 31-spline axles, BBK long-tube headers, and a McLeod clutch were added, along with a fresh tune-up. "We took it to the track that night," Bill says. "It ran 12.30s at 110 right out of the box on new Mickey Thompson ET Streets, with consistent 1.70 60-foot times."
Krimpet's Cobra was the next to visit LaRocca's, where it received the same additions save for the long-tubes, as Krimpet was low on cash. "We picked up [Krimpet's car]," Bill says, "and even though the weather was awful, he ran a 12.51 at 109 mph to my 12.42 at 109 mph."
Unfortunately, due to it being totaled, Brian's Cobra never made it to LaRocca's.
"A few weeks later," Bill says, "[we were] at the '01 SuperStallions of the Net Spring Nats at Cecil County Raceway in Maryland. Krimp and I continued the race to the 11s. But this was Krimp's day, as he bested all the other N/A Cobras in attendance as well as a few supercharged ones." Bill had chip trouble, so he took it out and lined it up against Krimpet for the last run of the day. "I got out early," Bill says, "but he took the win up top with a 12.31 to my losing 12.40."
Not handling the loss well, Bill headed back to LaRocca's for a fresh chip tune, drag springs, and a pair of Weld Draglites up front to match the rears. As Krimpet was out of cash, it was up to Bill to go after the 11s alone. A few weeks later, a trip to Cecil County Raceway enabled Bill to come close to the 11s, with a 12.09 at 112 mph in good air.