Joe Hunt has an old soul when it comes to racing and performance that has helped shape his path behind the wheel. His appreciation for American muscle led him to the classic General Motors F-body platform in his teenage years and he’s never strayed from that path. Hunt’s current ride, a 2000 Pontiac Firehawk known as “The Blackhawk” is one bad ride in the No Prep world that made the switch to boost and is already racking up the wins.
When Hunt was just 16 years old he picked up his very first F-body, a 1991 Pontiac Formula WS6 with a 305 TPI engine and five-speed transmission. Soon the upgrades were flying on to the car and Hunt was out street racing whenever he could. That was just the beginning of Hunt’s quest for speed, the next logical step, of course, was to step up his game to some LSX power.
“I upgraded quite a few times with other F-bodies, but by the time I graduated high school in 2010, I had a 2001 Camaro Z28 that I had built with the help of some friends. That car was turned into a consistent 6.90 eighth-mile car, which at the time was dominant on the streets local to me,” Hunt explains.
To further his horsepower education Hunt made the choice to move to Houston, Texas and attend SAM Tech to learn more about how to generate horsepower. While at SAM Tech Hunt got to see some of the fastest street-raced cars in the world around the Houston area and that just pushed him even harder with his own car.
Racing on the streets has a certain allure to some, but Hunt decided that if he really wanted to go fast it was time to head to the track.
“The last couple of years cars have gotten so fast and street racing has gotten so popular it led to the No Prep craze blowing up. That comes from being able to race in a similar manner as we do on the street, without the worry of cops and there being more safety at the track. The large payouts made it a no-brainer for me to go give that a try. That first taste of No Prep was amazing and I’ve been hooked since,” Hunt says.
With the know-how to go even faster in his pocket, and a new outlet for his racing in No Prep, Hunt was ready to build his next car and it just so happened to be one he’s always wanted in the form of the Blackhawk.
“I had always wanted a true Firehawk, but never wanted to pay the premium price for one just to cut up into a racecar. One day while buying some parts from a friend of mine that parts out F-body cars I saw the Firehawk sitting in his lineup to be parted out. I convinced him to let me buy the roller to save it from being taken off the road forever, plus it already had a cage in the car so I didn’t feel so bad about making a race car out of a real Firehawk,” Hunt explains.
Originally the Blackhawk sported an LSX-based engine on a healthy dose of nitrous oxide when Hunt finished it. The car ran well but at the level of power Hunt was making the maintenance was becoming excessive; high-octane VP C16 fuel was a must to keep the engine happy, and to make the power he really wanted a huge and expensive upgrade was needed. After considering all his options, Hunt decided it was time to switch to boost.
Now under the hood of the Blackhawk is a Venom Racing Engines 388 cubic-inch Dart LS Next SHP block-based engine. Stuffing the boost into the engine are a pair of Precision turbos that work with Precision wastegates and blow-off valves that are part of the Vasko Speed & Performance-built turbo system. A TH400 transmission from Chad & The Shop puts the power down with a few special and secret tricks to make it work better in No Prep racing. What makes the Blackhawk even cooler, besides how rare the car is and how much power it makes, is that the Pontiac is still driven on the street.
With all of the changes to the car, Hunt’s goals are still the same: go fast and collect wins along the way.
“I always just shoot to improve my own program and go faster every weekend I’m out with the car. I enjoy learning what’s working and what’s not so I can improve upon a combination until I feel there’s nothing left in it. I will say this particular car will always be a small-tire car that is capable of street driving anywhere I want, and it will never have wheelie bars on it,” Hunt says.
So far the new combination is doing very well for Hunt in 2018. At the recent No Prep event at I-29 Dragway Hunt was able to get the win in the Drag Radial class showing the potential of the new combination.
Photos courtesy of Owner and 1320 Video