The name John Lingenfelter has become a legend in the world of performance engineering. The ambitions and aspirations of many engineers and enthusiasts, the world over, were represented almost casually in his daily life and actions. For over 40 years, Lingenfelter has been synonymous with world-class performance, taking great cars and trucks and reinventing them with legendary precision.
Today, this legendary record of precision engineering continues, as the Lingenfelter production team continues to target design excellence in engine packages and aftermarket components. The Lingenfelter legend remains with us in every detail and is reflected in our vehicles with refined power, speed and control.
John Lingenfelter won 13 NHRA national event titles – nine in Comp, three in Super Stock and one in Pro Stock Truck.
John’s racing career spanned more than four decades where John raced everything from Super Stock and Comp door cars to Econo dragsters, Pro Stock Trucks and Sport Compact. John was the first Comp driver to break the six-second quarter-mile barrier.
In 1997, John Lingenfelter returned to NHRA drag racing, competing in exhibition races in NHRA's fledgling Pro Stock Truck class. He finished second in the Pro Stock Truck points standings in 1998, which was the first official year of competition for the new class. John’s Pro Stock Truck was powered by a normally aspirated Chevrolet V8 that was capable of 7.617 at 175.91 mph in the quarter mile.
In 2002, John took on a new challenge: sport compact racing. He fielded a GM ECOTEC 4-cylinder GMC Sonoma and later a Chevy Cavalier in the NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series. In his first year racing in this series, he won one national event and had two runner-up finishes. The Cavalier was powered by a turbocharged Ecotec 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine that was capable of quarter-mile speeds in excess of 187 mph.
At the October 2002 Mazda NHRA Sport Compact World Finals in Pomona, California during the semifinals, John lost control of his Cavalier and crashed into the concrete retaining wall. John sustained serious injuries in the accident and passed away as a result of complications from subsequent surgeries on December 25, 2003 at the age of 58.
Timeline of Past Projects
In 1988, Reeves Callaway contracted John Lingenfelter to design and build the engine for the Callaway Sledgehammer Corvette project. Lingenfelter built a 355 CID twin-turbocharged EFI Chevy that produced more than 900 hp. Reeves’ team assembled the car and drove this very streetable Corvette to Ohio for testing. John piloted the Lingenfelter-powered Callaway Sledgehammer to a record-holding pass of 254.76 mph on the 7.5-mile oval at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio.
In 1989, John moved on to help set another record, this time at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Lingenfelter built a 355 CID Chevy V8 engine for the SE Racecraft 1989 Firebird Trans Am. This twin-turbocharged, fuel- injected small block produced 1,400 hp and had six nitrous bottles for intercooler cooling only, not for induction. The car’s driver, Gary Eaker, tried to break the 300 mph barrier the Trans Am but after several attempts fell short of the goal. He did, however, still hit an amazing 298 mph, which set the record for full-body sedans at the time.
After the record run by the SE Racecraft Trans Am, John produced a Lingenfelter Pontiac Firebird in 1996 to run at the Bonneville Salt Flats. This car was to be featured in Car and Driver and at the time was driven by Csaba Csere, the editor of the publication and friend of John Lingenfelter. This car met a fateful end when it went out of control and became airborne at 220 mph, then did a back flip and a spun before finally skidding to a stop on its roof. Fortunately, Csaba was not seriously injured in this accident. To read the Car and Driver article, click here.
In 1997, Lingenfelter teamed up with Hurst to offer a limited edition production run of the Hurst Firebird by Lingenfelter. The Hurst Firebirds were produced for the 1997 LT1 and the 1998 LS1 model years, with 9 produced in 1997 and 10 in 1998.
In March of 2000, the Lingenfelter 1999 650 Twin Turbo Corvette was tested by MotorTrend and set the record for being the fastest tuner Corvette at an amazing 226 mph.
In 2001, Lingenfelter started offering a C5 Body Package that could be combined with our 427 CID Twin Turbo 725 hp engine package. A total of six cars were built with two being convertibles.
In June of 2002, Lingenfelter’s 2000 427 Twin Turbo Corvette was tested by MotorTrend and set the record for being the quickest accelerating tuner Corvette. Pitted against a Blue Angels F/A-18, this Corvette ran 9.24 at 150.27 mph and boasted a 0–60 time of 1.97 seconds. Later runs in December of 2002 produced the fastest time of 8.95 at 153.6 mph.
In September of 2002, Lingenfelter’s 2001 427 CID twin-turbocharged Sonoma all-wheel-drive pickup was featured in the Car and Driver shootout. Somewhat of an urban legend, this truck was originally a GMC display vehicle that would run nine-second quarter miles with street tires. The truck was very original and featured a front mount charge cooler that took the place of the radiator, which was moved to the bed of the truck. Air reached the rear mount radiator via electric fans, which pulled air up into the bed through the radiator and back out the bed’s rear. All of this was concealed under an unsuspecting carbon fiber bed cover.