Flight Plan—Geoff Turk revives the Blackbird with a four-digit, Whipple-blown Hemi under the hood

By Steve Turner

Photography courtesy of Geoff Turk/Holley

Back in 2018 Geoff Turk emblazoned his name in the history books as the founding member of the 7-second Club in Holley EFI Factory Super Cars when he clicked off a 7.97 at 171 mph rip in his 2015 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. He went on to great success and a championship in that car, but eventually made the switch to racing a Mustang Cobra Jet in the class.

Since that time Turk experienced some dramatic ups and downs in his life. On the positive side, Holley Performance Products anointed the lifelong enthusiast as its Chief Operating Officer. While that certainly keeps him busy, it did not squelch his desire for racing. It did, however, inspire him to move on from the class so closely identified with him.

Geoff Turk, COO of Holley Performance Parts, is bringing his legendary 2015 Dodge Challenge Drag Pak with a BES-built Gen 3 Hemi and a Whipple supercharger.

Avoiding even the appearance of impropriety, Turk opted not to race the Blackbird V2 in Holley EFI Factory Super Cars. Instead, he is stepping up his game and run even faster. In fact, he had long ago committed to running a second quicker in each decade of his life, so with his 60s on the horizon it was time to gun for something capable of sixes in the quarter, even if the class only runs on the eighth mile.

“I really enjoying running NMCA…” Turk explained. “I pondered Pro Mod for a little while and then I realized that was a little out of reach given the time constraints and not having other people to help me at the track. So I decided I would look at Xtreme Street… I looked at both the Cobra Jet approach, because I still have the X15, and the Dodge Challenger.”

For Turk’s Edelbrock Xtreme Street effort, BES started with a Mopar race block and filled it with a COMP camshaft, Callies rods, Ross pistons, and a Winberg crank. Topped by Thitek heads wearing Jesel rockers it receives boost from a Whipple Gen 5 3.0-liter supercharger.

Because both his late wife and his current wife both prefer the Challenger, the decision became crystal clear. He set out to revive the historic Blackbird with a fresh Gen 3 Hemi engine benefitting from what he and the industry have learned about the platform over the years.

“Obviously BES has done a ton of work with the Gen 3 Hemi with guys like Rob Goss in X275 and we kind of took of down the path for doing the Gen 3 Hemis for Factory Super Cars. When we started down that path there were a lot of skeptics who thought we couldn’t compete, and of course we competed…” said Turk, who has a long history with BES-built Hemi engines, including a ’68 Super Stock car powered by a 426 Hemi that he eventually swapped in a 5.7 Gen 3 Hemi.

“As I came back around and wanted to do something with the Blackbird again, we talked about the pieces of the puzzle that we had already developed…” Turk explained. “We put that together with the Jesel rocker system, Thitek heads, the SRT block and my favorite supercharger in the world, the Gen 5 3.0-liter Whipple.”

With modest boost, this fresh Hemi blasted out a whopping 1,700-plus horsepower. Turk many need more power to run with the top dogs in Xtreme Street, so a move from its current 3.0-liter supercharger to the new 3.8-liter unit from Whipple is a possibility.

Rounding out the engine powering the Blackbird V2 is the Mopar race engine block he helped develop during his Factory Super Cars run. In addition to the aforementioned heads and rockers, Tony Bischoff and the team at BES fitted the engine with Callies rods, Ross pistons, and a Winberg crank. Those Jesel rockers work with a custom COMP cam, and the whole operation is, naturally, under the sway of a Holley Dominator EFI system.

“I am not being biased by telling you that the Holley EFI system is badass. It is incredibly durable. People don’t realize that having a control system in your car that you can freeze in a block of ice or boil in water and have it still control the engine and not have a problem is pretty nice at the racetrack. You don’t have to worry about that thing screwing up.”

While he shares an obvious connection with Holley, Turk also carries a long history running Whipple blowers, so it was only natural that he would top this engine with one of the company’s latest offerings.

“This new supercharger is the Gen 5 3.0-liter, the core of which is the same supercharger used on the Cobra Jet that has been so dominant,” Turk said. “I was familiar with how well it performed. Further, it is actually the supercharger that is going on the 2021 Drag Pak…”

With the latest Whipple atop the BES-built Gen 3 Hemi, Turk hit the engine dyno days before the inaugural Holley MoParty held from September 18-20, 2020 at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The bolstered bullet cranked out a whopping 1,712.5 horsepower and 11.98.4 lb-ft of torque. While he is still seeking more power, this was a great foundation on which to build.

“It is not really running that much boost. Let’s just say it is in the 15- to 20-pound range, which is surprisingly low for a motor that makes that much power,” Turk enthused.

While he hasn’t turned up the boost yet, lighting the fire on a Gen 3 Hemi that’s delivering power beyond 1,300 ponies requires a really hot spark. The engine is uniquely equipped with two plugs for each cylinder, which helps. However, at press time, there wasn’t a plug-in solution compatible with Holley EFI. As such, Turk deployed a custom harness arrangement designed to fire the latest coils from MSD.

“The MSD system is a little different. It is using the newest MSD Smart Wire coils, which are the hottest coil on the market that works well with the Holley EFI,” he explained. “Not only are we using that newest coil, we are using 16 of them because you have 16 individual plugs in a Gen 3 Hemi, so it has a custom harness to fire all 16 coils, which offers a ton of spark energy.”

He will need that blazing spark as he tries to push this Challenger in the Xtreme Street ranks without cutting up a historic car. Having already trimmed pounds by swapping the doors, hood, and trunk lid for lighter pieces from Anderson Composites, it is still a bit over class-legal weight, so he will try drop weight and may swap to the larger 3.8-liter Whipple supercharger.

“Part of the dilemma here is that I‘ve got the Blackbird. It is a pretty historic car. I don’t want to cut it up, so it has a factory stock legal suspension in it. We could change the doors and hood and put it back in Factory Super Cars,” Turk said. “…Hopefully the Gen 3 Hemi prowess combined with that incredible Whipple supercharger all controlled by the Holley EFI will give us enough of a leg up to offset the tradeoff we are making by not pushing the limits on what we can do with the car.”

Sources

BES Racing Engines

(812) 576-2371

Besracing.com

 

Callies Performance Products

(419) 435-2711

Callies.com

 

COMP Cams

(800) 999-0853

Compcams.com

 

Holley Performance Products

(866) 464-6553

Holley.com

 

Jesel

(732) 901-1800

Jesel.com

 

Ross Pistons

Rosspistons.com

(310) 536-0100

 

Winberg Crankshafts

(303) 783-2234

Winbergcrankshafts.com

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