Company History

Hennessey Performance Engineering History

1991

John Hennessey purchases new Mitsubishi 3000GT vr4 to pursue his dream of entering the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. After developing his own modifications to the exhaust and turbochargers for added power, he prepares for the July 4th hill climb by entering the Nevada Open Road Challenge in May. With no prior experience, he finishes fourth overall averaging 164 mph over the 90-mile course in a car he had driven to Ely, Nevada and back from Houston. He also drove his car, loaded with tools and spares, to Colorado and back in July when he successfully completed his run in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. In August, he again drove, not trailered, his car to the Bonneville Salt Flats where he set a class record of 177 mph. And, to finish up his whirlwind tour of high-speed endeavors, that November he returned to Nevada for the Silver State Challenge open road race where he was the overall winner with an average speed of 177 mph.

In between races, he also found time, on October 12, to marry his fiancé Hope. With her support, John gave up his successful environmental remediation business and aimed his entrepreneurial skills at turning his passion for high performance and racing into his life’s work by founding Hennessey Performance Engineering.

1992

Working out of a rented garage with a single technician, John specialized in offering modified turbochargers and intake/exhaust systems for the Mitsubishi 3000 GT and its Dodge Stealth sibling as well as other turbocharged imports such as the Toyota Supra and Mazda RX7.

Hennessey Performance gets its initial media exposure with an article in Car & Driver recounting his racing exploits and the modifications he made to his Mitsubishi 3000 GT, which he dubbed the vr200.

1993

The first Viper Venom 500 was built for a customer interested in competing in Nevada open road races. In May, the car won its class and finished fourth overall with an average of 164 mph at the Nevada Open Road Challenge. Being one of the first, if not the first, Viper entered in any competition, it was featured in Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Hot Rod and Car Craft.

1994

The Viper Venom 550 debuts with a 50 horsepower increase over the Venom 500 thanks to HPE’s design of the world’s first Viper 5-to-1 tubular headers and development of high performance valve train improvements in conjunction with Competition Cams. Motor Trend track tests a Venom 500 and Venom 550 with both cars entering the magazine’s rather exclusive for the time ‘3-second club’ by posting 0 to 60 mph runs of 3.7 and 3.5 seconds respectively.

Hennessey Performance is involved in development and sales of the first hardtop designed for the Viper. A Belgian team enters two Vipers at the 24 Hours of Le Mans utilizing exhaust headers, valve train components and other racing parts from Hennessey Performance. One of the team’s Vipers finishes an incredible tenth overall.

1995

John Hennessey becomes one of the founding members of the Viper Club of America. Venom 600, featuring a stroker kit with custom crank, debuts at Motor Trend shootout held at Firebird Raceway. It decisively beats the competition to earn ‘cover shot’ status.

An earlier experience at a Road & Track top speed event did not result in a victory but brought home the lesson of having world-class test equipment. HPE purchases one of the first Dyno Jet rolling chassis dynamometers.

1996

Viper GTS debuts and HPE improves stroker kit to produce 650 horsepower resulting in the 650r model.

1997

John Hennessey pilots a 650r around the tricky high-speed oval at the Honda proving grounds in Arizona to become the first Viper to hit 200 mph with a speed of 203 mph. Motor Trend features the record run with a cover story.

1998

John drives his personal Viper GTS to establish a new speed record for the Elko Twin 50 open road race with an average of 177 mph on the return run.

With the arrival of his and Hope’s fifth child, John Hennessey puts his family’s interest first by retiring from high speed racing events, limiting himself to drag strip and road course testing.

1999

Venom 800 debuts. It is the result of John Hennessey’s decision that the time is right to develop a twin turbo Viper V10. He sets a goal of 200 mph in the standing mile. With 700 horsepower to the rear wheels, the Venom 800 comes up slightly shy of the mark with a speed of 197 mph, but does become the first tuner car tested by Motor Trend to do 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds and the ¼-mile in 9.9 seconds.

2000 – 2003

Development continues on the Viper. The 1000 horsepower Venom 1000 debuts and a 650r does 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and a 10.7 ¼-mile on street tires. HPE grows from five employees in 1995 to a dozen.

2004

Acquisition of the Lonestar Motorsports complex including 1/8-mile drag strip. Venom 800 Twin Turbo SRT-10 captures overall win over 16 tuner cars in Car & Driver Supercar Challenge. The two-day event includes one day of road testing by the editors followed by a day on the oval and infield road course of Michigan International Speedway testing braking, handling, and various levels of acceleration.

2005

In a Road & Track standing mile test on the runway at Lemoore Naval Air Station, the Hennessey Venom 1000 SRT-10 convertible posts the fastest top speed of 210.2 mph. The diverse field of 15 entrants includes a Saleen S7 and three racecars. The Venom 1000 is 7 mph faster than the Lola-Ford Cosworth Indy Car of Paul Gentilozzi.

2006

In a Road & Track standing mile test on the runway at Lemoore Naval Air Station, the Hennessey Venom 1000 SRT-10 convertible posts the fastest top speed of 210.2 mph. The diverse field of 15 entrants includes a Saleen S7 and three racecars. The Venom 1000 is 7 mph faster than the Lola-Ford Cosworth Indy Car of Paul Gentilozzi.

John Hennessey shifts his thinking from increasing horsepower to reducing weight to achieve a comfortable, user-friendly 200 mph road car. He commissions a designer in the UK to create plans for a car based on a Lotus Elise with a Viper V10 amidships that is the precursor to the Venom GT.

In December, ground is broken for building the company’s new facilities adjacent to Lonestar Motorsports Park.

2008

HPE Ford GT 1000 Twin Turbo becomes the world’s fastest Ford GT at the time with a 234 mph run at Lemoore NAS. HPE moves into its new home, a 30,000-square-foot building adjacent to Lonestar Motorsports Park, off Interstate 10, about 45 minutes west of Houston.

Tuner School, first school dedicated to teaching and training high performance vehicle tuners opens within the new facilities. Hennessey establishes YouTube channel to post entertaining and informative videos of its vehicles in action.

2009

HPE expands into General Motors tuning with Cadillac CTS V and Corvette ZR1 leading the way. HPE 700 LS9 Camaro debuts with 691-hp at the rear wheels. The car is an immediate hit establishing HPE among Chevrolet performance customers.

Venom GT development continues in the UK with Chevrolet LS9 V8 replacing the twin turbo Viper V10 of the original concept.

2010

Venom GT prototype debuts and is followed later in the year by delivery of the first production version. Top Gear devotes cover story to Venom GT.

HPE dealer network continues to expand for ordering cars through Chevrolet, and Ford dealers across the country. New website is launched.

2011

Happy 20th anniversary to John and Hope Hennessey as well as HPE. Over the last two decades both the couple and the company have reason to celebrate as the couple has expanded to a family of five children while HPE business family has grown to 30 employees.

Venom GT appears on cover of Road & Track.

2012

In an Automobile Magazine test, John Hennessey’s daily-driver CTS-V “Hammer Wagon” clocks a 10.98-second quarter-mile pass, forever changing perceptions of these high-performance people-movers.

Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler takes delivery of his Venom GT.

In a most unusual christening of Texas Toll Road SH130, the Hennessey VR1200 runs 221 mph and the HPE700 Camaro ZL1 runs 204 mph. Top Gear magazine records the Herculean effort in its December issue.

2013

Venom GT sets the Guinness World Record for 0-300 km/h production-car acceleration at Ellington Airport in Houston, Texas—13.63 seconds—and lands on the cover of EVO magazine. The Venom GT also set an unofficial 0-200 mph record of 14.51 seconds, a staggering 7.7 seconds quicker than the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

On a 2-mile runway at Lemoore Naval Air Station in California, the Venom GT achieves 265.7 mph from a standing start. Hennessey Performance broadens its tuning reach to European exotics, with 700-hp upgrades for both the Ferrari 458 and McLaren 12C.

Venom GT and HPE-upgraded Cadillac CTS-V and Nissan GT-R run demonstration laps at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas between ALMS qualifying sessions.

HPE on track to build and upgrade more than 500 vehicles per year.

Shell/Pennzoil enter into sponsorship agreement with HPE. Pennzoil becomes the official motor oil for all Hennessey vehicles including the Venom GT.

In the first C7 Corvette to exceed 200 mph, John Hennessey achieves a speed of 200.6 mph in an HPE-upgraded Stingray on a closed section of the Grand Parkway toll road in Houston, Texas.

2014

Venom GT sets new world record speed of 270.49 mph (435.31 km/h) at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on the 3.22-mile Shuttle Landing Facility runway. Driver Brian Smith was at the controls.

2015

Hennessey VelociRaptor 600 Supercharged Ford Truck is driven by Jeremy Clarkson and featured on the BBC’s Top Gear TV show.

2016

John Hennessey and Jay Leno test the 800 HP Supercharged Hennessey Ford Mustang GT as it runs 207.9 mph on JAY LENO’S GARAGE TV Show on CNBC.

Hennessey Venom GT Spyder runs 265.5 mph with the roof off and unseats the Bugatti Grand Sport Vitesse for the title of World’s Fastest Roadster.

2017

Hennessey unveils the rival to the Dodge Demon – the 1,000 HP ZL1 Camaro which goes by the name of THE EXORCIST.

The Hennessey Team creates and unveils the Venom F5 hypercar and Velociraptor 6X6 at the Shell Experience at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

2018

850 HP Hennessey GT350R Mustang driven by Matt LeBlanc is featured on the season premier of the BBC’s Top Gear TV.

Hennessey Dodge Demon runs 9.14 @ 152 mph and becomes the quickest and fastest Dodge Demon in the world.

THE EXORCIST is the fastest Muscle Car in the world by attaining a top speed of 217 mph at the Continental Tire Proving Grounds in Uvalde, Texas.

Hennessey and Pennzoil unveil the Venom F5’s engine which produces 1600+ horsepower from a 7.6L twin turbo Hennessey V8 engine.  The unveiling took place at The Quail – A Motorsports Gathering.

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