About Sonny's Racing Engines

In 1969, after building engines as a hobby, Sonny Leonard opened up a two bay garage (Sonny's Garage) in Madison Heights, VA.  Business grew and his 1968 Chevelle race car was sold for the down payment on a 1,000 sq. ft. building in Lynchburg, a short distance across the James River.  Machines were added as business continued to grow and a 5,000 sq. ft. shop was purchased in 1977.

During this time, Sonny campaigned a number of race cars with the name "Southern Rat."  In 1981, a violent testing accident caused by a suspension failure destroyed practically the entire car.   The engine was salvaged and sold to Chuck and Charlie Sneed for their "Code of Arms" Pro Stock.  Its success led to the development of a number of Pro Stock engines for them and helped attract other customers like Johnny Dowey, Carlton Phillips, Rickie Smith and Harold Denton.

In 1987, Bill Kuhlmann purchased a SAR 615 cu. in. engine kit over the phone.  After shipping, Bill assembled the kit and made history - the first race out - by making the first ¼ mile 200 MPH pass in a full-bodied car at Darlington, SC that spring.  Being a racer himself, Sonny realized the importance of this accomplishment and he initiated a club to honor those who achieved this feat."

By 1989, the walls were bulging again and plans for a new 11,000 sq. ft. building were begun.  In June of 1990, SONNY'S AUTOMOTIVE RACING moved into its present state-of-the-art facility that includes:  two SuperFlow dynamometers, a five station head porting room, a sheetmetal and welding shop for fabricating manifolds, and separate engineering, tooling and conference rooms.

In 1991, Sonny started another 200 MPH Club.  This one was for the unlimited Pro Stocks that have meant so much to him over the years and is in memory of Jim Ruth, a long remembered friend and dedicated customer.  At the 1994 Fall Nationals in Bristol, TN the 16 member Pro Stock 200 MPH Club was completed.

At present we have two CNC vertical mills.  One five axis used to CNC port our cylinder heads also an in-house programmer and mechanical engineer.

Credentials:

SONNY'S AUTOMOTIVE RACING has more than 40 years of experience with racing engines

  • Home of more than 60 National and World racing record holders (land and sea)

  • IHRA 7.90 class World Champion 1988 Jim Crawford (Chevy)

  • 8 IHRA Pro Stock World Championships

    • 1986 (Ford) Rickie Smith

    • 1987 (Ford) Rickie Smith

    • 1989 (Pontiac) Rickie Smith

    • 1990 (Pontiac) Tommy Mauney / Williford Farms -

    • 1992 (Chevrolet) Billy Huff 

    • 1993 (Olds) Doug Kirk

    • 1994 (Olds) Billy Huff 

    • 2009 (Chevrolet) John Monticalvo

  • March 1987 (Chevy)  Bill Kuhlmann - 202 MPH

  • 1991 - Billy Dewitt - 6.96 (Pontiac)- The first naturally aspirated Dragster in the six second zone with a Powerglide

  • 1991 - The winner of the 5th Setouchi Rose Cup Hiroshima, Japan -Superboat class - Mr. Cigarette Team

  • 1991 - The First Pro Stock in the six second zone - Harold Denton 6.98 / 198 MPH (Pontiac)

  • 1990 - The first aluminum GM block to accommodate 700 + cubic inches in joint project with Donovan Engineering

  • 1993 - The first 800 + cubic inch GM based engine

  • 1994 - The first 500 + cu. in. small block Chevy

  • 1998 - The first GM powered Pro Stock car to run in the 6.60's @ Budds Creek Maryland-Tony Gillig

  • 2000 - The First 500 + cu. in. NHRA Ford Pro Stock to run 200 mph - Robert Patrick

  • 2000 - IHRA Pro Stock E.T. record holder 6.60 - Jerry Yeoman

  • 2000 - IHRA Pro Stock MPH Record holder 210.77 - John Montecalvo

  • Top Sportsman World Champion - Steve Splawn - IHRA Top Sportsman

  • The first full - bodied car over 200 MPH in the Ã�ï¿1/2�¼ mile with carburetors Pro Modified

  • 2003 - GM Hemispherical head was designed and fully machined and debuted

  • 2003 - NHRA / Competition Eliminator - Nick Mitsos / Vinnie DeCeglie R/U at NHRA Englishtown, NJ

  • March 2003 First GM Pro Stock to run 6.40's - John Montecalvo

  • NHRA/Competition Eliminator - Nick Mitsos/Vinnie DeCeglie record holder for MPH 211.36 on 11-06-04 and ET 6.52 on 04-02-05

  • 2005 Winner of the ADRL - Billy Pilcher with his Sonny's 732 Hemispherical headed engine

  • 2005 Two time winner NHRA Top Sportsman - Steve Derosa with his Sonny's 762 cu. in. engine

  • 2005 $50,000.00 Big Dog Winner Troy Coughlin / Jeg's using his Sonny's Hemispherical headed engine

  • 2006 Vinnie DeCeglie #2 qualifier in Competition Eliminator with a 6.53 @ 212 MPH

  • 2007 NHRA Top Sportsman Division 3 Champion - Mike Coughlin / Jeg's

  • 2007 NTPA Division 3 Pro 4WD Champion - Mark Mangan

  • 2007 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle World Champion - Matt Smith (Cylinder Head Development)

  • 2007 ADRL Pro Nitrous Points Champion

  • 9/29/07 Dean Goforth completed the Sonny's 220 MPH Club with 223.62 at Budds Creek, MD

  • 2008 Sprint Cup Champion-Hendricks Motorsports (Cylinder Head Development)

  • 2008 NTPA National Champion 4WD - Pete McKeeth

  • 2008 NTPA National 2nd  place in 4WD - Mark Mangan

  • 2009 Sonny's Designed a new 5.300" wedge head

  • 2009 Frank Tamez World's Quickest and Fastest full bodied car with a  N/A Engine with an Automatic trans 6.33 @ 221 MPH

  • 2009 Troy Coughlin World Champion Pro Street NMCA

  • 2009 Troy Coughlin National E.T. and Speed Record in NMCA Pro Street 6.27 @ 225 MPH

  • 2009 Dennis Radford Quickest Qualifying time in NHRA Pro Mod History 5.92 with Sonny's new 864 Pro Mod Engine

  • 2009 Mike Coughlin Div 2 Top Sportsman Champion

  • 2009 Todd Hoerner Quickest and Fastest run in NHRA history in Comp Eliminator in A/AA 6.466 @ 216.55

  • 2009 Dean Goforth ADRL Extreme Pro Stock National E.T. record Holder (4.05)

  • 2009 John Monticalvo IHRA World Champion

  • 2010 Cary Goforth ADRL Extreme Pro Stock National E.T. Record Holder (4.04)

  • 2010 Cary Goforth ADRL Extreme Pro Stock  National Speed Record Holder (179.04 MPH)

  • 2010 Todd Hoerner New NHRA National E.T. and MPH Record Holder In Comp Eliminator  A/AA  6.52 @ over 214 MPH

  • 2010 Pat Musi was the first NOS car to win the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Race, using Sonny's Components

  • 2010 Rickie Smith Joins the Sonny's 240 MPH Club

  • 2010 Pat Musi Joins the Sonny's 240 MPH Club

  • 2010 John Montecalvo ADRL Extreme Pro Stock World Champion

  • 2011 Dennis Radford joins the 240 MPH Club

  • 2011 Craig Olson Quickest and fastest Naturally Aspirated car with an automatic transmission 6.26 @ 223.01

  • 2011 Cary Goforth ADRL Extreme Pro Stock World Champion

  • 2011 Pete Mckeeth Grand National Enderle National Pull Off Champion

  • 2011 Matt Mangan Region 5 Enderle Pull off Champion

  • 2011 Pete Mckeeth NTPA 4wd Grand National Truck Pull Champion

  • 2011 Mark Mangan Region 3 Points NTPA

  • 2011 Cary Goforth National Record Holder ADRL Extreme Pro Stock 4.03

    *   2012  Cary Goforth ADRL Extreme Pro Stock World Champion

    *   2012 Danny Perry Extreme Outlaw Pro Mod Champion

   *    2012 Jason Brammer NTPA Grand National 4WD Champion

   *    2012 Todd Hoerner Quickest and Fastest EFI Equipped Extreme Pro Stocker  6.23 @ 225.85

   *    2012 Todd Hoerner First Driver in History to win with electronic fuel injection in Extreme Pro Stock

    *   2013 Cary Goforth ADRL Extreme Pro Stock E.T. Record Holder 4.008

   *   2013 Danny Perry  Big Dog Pro Mod Champion

  *    2013 Rickie Smith NHRA Pro Mod Champion

  *    2013 John Deflorian ADRL Extreme Pro Stock Speed Record Holder  180.22

  *    2013 Jason Brammer NTPA Grand National 4WD Champion