Sport Compact racing has come a long way since its professional debut in 2001 with the NHRA. The NHRA saw an opportunity to not only attract a new demographic but also new cars, new teams, new technology, new businesses and shops. This series took off with no lag (pun intended), as the Import racecars finally had a big stage to shine on. Among the big names to help the series boost its popularity was Venom Racing.
Venom Racing products, now Venom Performance, were targeted toward the car scene as they focused their efforts on extracting power from fuel-injected engines. Instantly a big hit with the Import crowd, they saw an opportunity to market their products directly at the track. They then debut the Venom Racing Honda Civic in the Hot Rod class of the NHRA Sport Compact Series. This 800hp Civic, piloted by Bruce Mortensen, hit the track hard, winning the championship for its class in 2002.
In addition, the Venom Racing stable had a 1000hp twin-turbo Toyota Supra in the Modified class that showed off all that the Venom Racing products could do with a 2JZ. Jimmy O’Connor would eventually motor the Supra to a best of 7.80 @ 178 MPH. In the end, the Supra ended up in New Zealand, the homeland of Grant Downing (driver of the Venom Racing Toyota Tundra), under the ownership of C&M Performance.
Yet it was the Venom Racing Toyota Tundra that would prove the most successful. The Toyota Tundra started life as a NHRA Pro Stock Truck Chevrolet S10. When the NHRA disbanded the Pro Stock Trucks, Venom Racing decided to buy the S10 race truck and convert it to run in the top-tier Pro RWD class in the new Sport Compact series. The V8 was ripped out and replaced with a twin-turbo, ethanol-injected, nitrous-powered, 2JZ-GTE. Grant Downing piloted the truck to a string of 7.0 second passes before achieving the historic run of 6.95 @ 195 MPH, back in 2002. This would cement Venom Racing’s place in history as having the first Import vehicle to run a sub-seven second time down the quarter mile.
There’s a phrase that says, “history never remembers the boring, only the bold,” in this case, history remembers Venom Racing. Their efforts put them at the top of the standings year after year just as a new class of vehicles was unleashed on the 1320. Pioneers of the Sport Compact/Import world include many big names, all leading the way for what the home-grown teams of the Import drag racing world can now look back to as benchmarks that they’ve had to race past in their quest for greatness, but only Venom Racing can claim the title of having the world’s first 6-second Import.