Car Feature>> Gardella Racing Pro Fwd Cobalt

With so many distractions in the present day, many of us are hard pressed to find time to actually sit down and let the brain breathe a little and relax. Yet, when those moments do happen, it’s when you least expect it. It’s always those quiet moments which gives us time to reflect on whatever our minds choose to reflect on. Some think about their childhood, others think about that amazing meal they had just a few days ago, or others, which have race gas pumping throughout their veins, think about the days when they were younger, a bit more reckless but had a whole lot of fun.

Earlier this year, Gary Gardella, owner and operator of Gardella Racing, the team which campaigns the Mobile 1/Red Bull Chevy Camaro in Formula D, was working in the shop on a Saturday and his mind started to think about the glory days of drag racing. He innocently updated his Facebook with a rather nostalgic status update:

“Some days, I just can’t get drag racing off my mind. I’m thinking about starting up my Pro Fwd Cobalt just to smell the methanol.”

Not too long afterwards, Chris Rado, who has been a long time rival of Gary replied back with:

“Anytime, any place. I know my car can be ready in less than a week to do battle… How about yours? I know my team is always itching to do a burnout!!”

After a few heated exchanges over the next few weeks, Rado’s call out was answered. Gary Gardella, Chris Rado and Ron Bergenholtz will be meeting up at the Englishtown, New Jersey at the 14th Annual Sport Compact Fall Nationals to settle a long time grudge match on October 1st and 2nd.

Gary has since pulled the covers off his 2007 S&W chromoly tube frame chassis Pro FWD drag Chevy Cobalt, with its carbon fiber body, and started to prepare the car for its date with destiny in October.

As with any drag car, the front wheels are the bread winners and Gary uses Mickey Thompson slicks…

…with Weld wheels.

The car features a pair of Mark Williams carbon brakes in the front.

But as most people know, these parachutes are the real brakes in a drag car of this level.

This is where the fast comes in…

…and this is where the fast comes out.

Let’s peal off the body work to see check out one of the most important parts of a drag car: its engine.

The Cobalt features a 136 cubic inch, 2.0L, GM Ecotec 4 cylinder…

…which has been mated with a Precision custom turbo capable of 70+ PSI of boost…

…and a Precision air to water intercooler.

All this is managed by a FAST XFI ECU, MSD Digital 7 ignition and an MSD Boost controller. The result? 1675 HP.

The front suspension features Strange double adjustable shocks paired with Eibach springs.

Before Gary was managing a drift team, this was the office he worked from.

Here’s another view of the interior. It’s functional in every sense as saving weight was taken to account for every inch of the car. Even the floor is made of carbon fiber!

Xtrac 390 4 speed gear box with air shifter

This is the view out of the cockpit from Gary’s position in the driver seat.

Since the car is a far cry from the factory car, you’ll find no analog guages here. Instead there’s a Racepak dashboard with a Racepak V300 data system.

This car was debuted in 2007 for the Pro Fwd class and took the NHRA Pro FWD championship. Gary Gardella and this car currently hold the national ET record with a 7.15 @ 209.5 MPH!

Gardella began racing in the 1/8th mile ADRL series after FWD drag racing lost their home in 2008. This Chevy Cobalt held its own rather well as it raced some of the quickest rear wheel drive drag cars.

Many people still cry to this day that drag racing is dead. But if Chris Rado and Gary Gardella’s Facebook pages are of any indication, it’s far from being placed into its six-foot grave. People love a good grudge match and on October 1 and 2nd, that’s what they’re going to get.

In August, we’ll take a look at closer look at Chris Rado’s Pro FWD Scion tC which he will be racing against Gary’s Cobalt.




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WOOOOAAAA.......this bring back memories....any way to ignite Steph Papadakis's s fire as well?


those are fire bottles you dips not NAAAWWZZZ


"As with any drag car, the front wheels are the bread winners"

lol any drag car? if they're doing it right, the bread winners should be in the rear.


freakin' awesome! I'll be there for sure, Englishtown, here I come again! Gunna be schweet.


i miss these kinds of cars, the whole import drag racing scene died in the states as i was starting to watch the limited coverage i could find. are they going to stream it live cause i'd watch from here in little old NZ


Unfortunately, Bergenholtz Racing will not be able to atttend the Englishtown Fall National on October 1-2. Due to financial and human resource pressures we cannot make this event.


That is an amazing piece of machinery!


I like that category of drag racing!

Great job Linhbergh!


Wow... It's got a gargantuous turbo... "Capable of 70+ psi..." AMAZING!


I really miss going out to the track and seeing Gardella destroy all the competition - can't wait for October!


Look closly there not nitrous bottles there for the fire suppresion system


why not get Steph Eggum out too...did she sell her Civic? Either way she's much nicer to look at then Gary or Love those guys though!


Drag racing is alive and well fellas. We all know its a bit underground right now, but with guys like Gardella and Rado pitting up these sick battles, it's going to add fuel to the fire and eventually more guys are going to come out.


not going to lie... i kinda lol'd when I seen the engine exposed.

Just to explain its hood is so long I assumed they had some sort of V6 with lots of room for piping... put to see what looks like a FR drive train mounted forward of the front wheels just seems insane.... in a good way but it still crazy.


1675 out of a 2 liter... Just incredible!


Wow, they fit fire in bottles now?


Imagine the torque steer! hahah awesome.


136 cubic inches is a 2.2 liter


1675 from a 4cylinder. Straight witchcraft.


no offense, but this type of drag car is lame.

there is seriously an entire drivetrain in front of the front tires, and then an entire car behind that whose only purpose is to hold the driver and make this thing look half way like an actual car.

Seriously how long is that hood?

Cut the front off and move it to the back please!


Who has Kenny Tran's number?

Get his Scion in on this action.


not NOS.. fire extinguishers


I was at Palmdale when Ed did 9.89.

Import Drag was so hardcore back in the day.


Eco Tec o_O HAHAHA!!!!!!


anybody know where Eddie Bello is? (last i heard jail), Abel Ibarra (spelling?), Lisa Kubo, Tony Fuchs, Viet Lam - GOD DAMMIT GIMME MY DRAG RACING BACK!!!! HOW COULD IT HAVE DIED??? I still remember the first time Ed & Ron Bergenholtz made an east cost appearance!!! Apexi Integra anyone? HKS R32? Sakura??? Craig Paisley? Shawn Glazer? Vinny 10? Gary Gardella was the reason I ever bought I Ecko shirt!!!!!!


I loved Import/Sport compact when it was in its golden days. Its slowly making a comeback. This car is a work of art, but honestly its this kind of car that killed the sport. Don't get me wrong, its amazing and i cant wait till the race happens and I hope gardella takes it (since my fav bergie pulled out)


Can't wait til Oct 1st and 2nd to see Gary crush the competion.


Wonderful post!!! i love this class of cars


That car is crazy on so many levels ... and I love it!


This car is the reason Import Drag Racing is DEAD. its Too Extreme and no longer really fwd or a car for that matter. the sport compact scene does not like tube chassis. and the tuners did not like the way GM Came into the game not knowing anything about the culture it was trying to become a part of and not really respecting them either.

Whats sad is it was cars like this and Rados TC's that left them with the legacy that the cobalt and TC is anti tuner cars, and the CB SS turbo is actually a dam good car.


if only it was rwd. then it would make sense to have 1675 hp coming out of SOMETHING!


MPistol couldn't have said it any better...It's funny how the younger audience around here seems to forget how it all started. You know...before the whole drifting craze, hella-look-how-low-I-am fad took over...Yeah...those would be awesome to see all these machines come to life again and remind the crowds why it was fun back then and still now to watch cars go fast in a straight line...


Hi Gary who built the engine for this awesome car plus where would you be able to get hold of the gearbox that you have with this set up it would be much appreciated for any information
Thanks paul


Hi Gary do you still own this car if so would it be up for sale
thanks paul


We here at Horsepower sales in Orlando florida currently own it and 1 other just like it.
You can visit our facebook page.