People who are talented road racers don’t typically gravitate toward the sport of drag racing — it’s just not something that interests them. James Golden bucked that trend in a big way, and he now rips off 7-second passes behind the wheel of a 2019 Dodge Hellcat Redeye.
The Hellcat that James pilots is truly a wild animal, thanks to a pair of turbos and some serious Gen III HEMI power. James played with Matchbox cars and built model cars growing up. When most kids had posters of Ferraris or Lamborghinis on their bedroom walls, he had IROC-Z posters because he wanted a car that he could actually own. Well, when James turned 18, he purchased his dream car that was plastered all over his childhood room: a 1988 IROC-Z Camaro.
“I began modifying the IROC and street racing as soon as I could. My friends and I would trade cars and race each other any chance we got. The IROC was the fastest out of the group of cars and was a lot of fun to drive,” James explains.
When James and his friends would race, he always seemed to win, even if he wasn’t driving his own car. James decided he wanted to see how far he could take his driving skills, so he signed up to participate in the Skip Barber Racing School. James spent five days at Lime Rock Park making laps in the school’s Formula Ford car. Hee loved every minute of it. The instructor talked to James’ father and told him that he should buy him a seat in the Skip Barber Racing Series.
Even though James loved road racing, he never took the opportunity to participate in the Skip Barber series. James decided to fill his time with a long career in the automotive industry, starting in sales and eventually working his way up to a General Manager position running a dealership.
The 70-hour work weeks James was putting in didn’t allow for any racing, so he took a break from the sport until he moved to a different side of the automotive business that provided more time off. Once he had some free time, he was ready to get another fun car.
“I had this itch to buy another car for racing, but I didn’t know what to get. I was watching YouTube one night and saw a Jay Leno video where he was talking about his new Dodge Hellcat Redeye. He said that of all the cars he owns — which is a lot — it was his favorite. He said it was big, comfortable, and timid, but when you want to have fun, just floor it. When he talked about how much fun the 797 horsepower was, that convinced me, so I started looking at the Redeye,” James says.
With a new vehicle on his radar, James started looking around for a Hellcat Redeye. He has always loved the color green, so Dodge’s hue of F8 green really caught his eye. But there weren’t any Hellcat Redeyes available in that color locally. At that point, James had never even driven a Challenger, so he went to a friend’s dealership to take one for a spin. The dealership didn’t have any Hellcats on the lot, so James jumped into a Scat Pack Challenger and drove it for about an hour. Upon his return to the dealership, he was all smiles and placed an order for an F8-colored Hellcat Redeye.
The Hellcat arrived while James was on his honeymoon, but that didn’t stop the hot-rodding process. James had ordered go-fast goodies for his Challenger before it even arrived, and had a friend pick the car up so the parts could be installed right away. When James arrived home, the Hellcat already had headers, a new exhaust, an upgraded fuel system, and a smaller pulley bolted to the blower. The first time James drove his car was after all of the parts were installed, and he was in love with the new ride.
James was having a lot of fun driving his new toy and was content with how much power it had. All of that changed with one trip to the track.
“I never had any intention to make this a drag car. My wife, Lori, just wanted to go to car shows and race around town with the car. I went to a local track a few weeks after getting the car and was hooked. I didn’t have any slicks for it, just street tires, and I was in tire-spinning heaven. I was only able to run a best of 11.70, but I was having so much fun. I turned to my wife and said, “you’re in trouble, I love this.’ From that point forward I was all about making the car faster,” James states.
The quest for more horsepower led James to add some different parts and try to get his Hellcat tuned. He was having issues with the car’s tune and then had some parts fail. Those two issues ended up being a blessing in disguise.
“I had an issue with a blower pulley and ended up talking with Paul Georges in Canada. We talked about my tuning problem and he introduced me to AJ Berge at Hemituner Performance, and Jim Koutsoubis at True Street Performance. I took the car to AJ and Jim so they could fix some issues and provide me with recommendations about what to do with the car. My program wouldn’t be where it is today without their help,” James says.
James learned about the Modern Street Hemi Series from AJ and Jim when they were taking care of his Hellcat. The first event he went to was in Detroit and he ran a 9.53 at 145 mph off the trailer. James had so much fun at that event that he decided that he wanted to run the entire series. When he got home, he ordered a new InTech trailer and Ram 3500 dually to tow the trailer to each event.
Since James started racing his Hellcat, the goal has been to go quicker and faster each year. The Hellcat has progressed from a 9-second street car with a blower, to a twin-turbo monster that has run a best of 7.90 at 175 mph.
“Our next goal is to run a low 7-second pass and maybe break into the 6-second zone at some point. The car is getting a back-half job since we need a four-link suspension to put the power down. The engine is way too powerful for the IRS suspension the car currently has. We need to lose some weight, as well. We race at 4,200-pounds, which is nuts. We want to get the car down to around 3,200-pounds…that will be much easier on parts and make the car much faster,” James explains.
James really didn’t plan on becoming this committed to the sport of drag racing, but he’s having a ball doing it. There are several key people that have made his success possible on and off the track.
“I want to thank Dan VanHorn for running the Modern Street Hemi Series and providing a platform for Hemi racing. I have made lots of friends within the series that feel like family. Dan also made the call to get me into the World Cup Import vs. Domestic race. I want to thank Ken Walters for all his support and guidance. I want to give a shout out to Matt Byank, my crew chief, who supports me at each race. Last but not least, my wife, who puts up with me and never asks me how much anything costs,” James says.
James Golden enjoys all the important aspects of drag racing, from the speed to the friends you make at the track. The wicked Hellcat Redeye that James has built is his gateway to unlocking all the fun the dragstrip has to offer.
Body: 2019 Dodge Hellcat Redeye
Paint: OEM F8 Green
Engine: 426 Cubic-Inch BES HEMI
Connecting Rods: Callies
Cylinder Heads: Thitek Cylinder Heads
Camshaft: COMP Cams
Rocker Arms: OEM
Intake Manifold: Hogan Racing Manifolds
Power Adder: Twin 76mm Garrett turbos
EFI/Digital Dash: Holley
Fuel System: Aeromotive
Fuel Injectors: Injector Dynamics
Transmission: Rossler Transmissions TH400
Torque Converter: ProTorque
Shifter: M&M Transmission
Driveshaft: Driveshaft Shop
Rearend: Driveshaft Shop
Axles: Driveshaft Shop
Front/Rear Suspension: Menscer Motorsports
Front Wheels: WELD Wheels
Rear Wheels: WELD Wheels