John Hennessey, the founder and owner of Hennessey Performance Engineering, was born with a love of fast cars and speed events. In 1991, John left his job as a successful entrepreneur in the environmental services industry and turned his life’s passion for cars into his life’s work. In March 1993, the future and successful growth of HPE was set into motion. A customer was impressed by Hennessey’s winning drives in the Nevada Open Road Challenge events, and came to him with one of the first Dodge Vipers in the country for modifications to make the car competitive in similar events.
The modifications and tuning resulted in an increase of about 100 horsepower. It was dubbed the Hennessey Venom 500 Viper. The car’s subsequent 164-mph (264 km/h) average run in the Silver State Challenge started the ball rolling, and the next few years saw a large demand for Hennessey-enhanced Vipers. By 1996, HPE was dealing exclusively in the V10 Chrysler super sports car. Since opening the doors of HPE for business, Hennessey has built cars for the likes of Jay Leno, Bob Lutz and other Chrysler executives. HPE is the only tuner in North America to operate its own test track with its Lonestar Motorsports Park, a 2.25-kilometer track where they put Pennzoil® Synthetics to the test in every vehicle they build.
Breaking Barriers and Setting Records
On February 14, 2014, John Hennessey and the team at HPE set a new world speed record for two-seat sports cars by reaching a top speed of 270.49 mph (435.3 km/h) in the Venom GT, dethroning the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport that had held the record since 2010. Pennzoil chronicled the pursuit of speed in May of 2015 on the National Geographic Channel with the film Breaking Barriers.
Fast forward to May 27, 2015, and John Hennessey and the HPE team made another appearance in the record books by setting the speed record for a 2015 Ford Mustang GT at 207.9 mph (334.5 km/h). This special moment was featured in an episode of Jay Leno's Garage on CNBC in October of 2015.