John Hennessey, founder and CEO of Hennessey, reflects on being a speed pioneer that has shaped Hennessey’s Performance since 1991. Today, the company celebrates 30 years of making fast cars even faster.
Born with a passion for speed and fast cars, John Hennessey found early racing success behind the wheel of a modified Mitsubishi 3000GT at events such as the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and the Silver State Classic, even going as far as setting a world speed record in his class at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
“At the end of 1991, looking back at that year of motorsport, I realized I’d learned the first rule of auto racing – if you want to make a small fortune in racing, start with a larger one! To continue my passion, I knew I’d have to find a way to pay for it. So, I thought, if Carroll Shelby and Alois Ruf could make a living by building and modifying cars, then maybe I could too – that’s how our company began.”
With his wife, Hope, his five children, and a team of 50+ skilled colleagues, the Texas-based king of speed has stuck to a simple principle that too much horsepower is never enough in his mission to create cars that make people smile. From building cars for international rock stars and world-famous athletes to claiming countless speed records, including the ‘World’s Fastest Car’ title, the business ethos has always been to seek out the next challenge.
“Hennessey Performance is like one big family to me, and our fantastic customers are a big part of that. As we celebrate 30 years of business, I’m thankful for every customer and my whole team who’ve all contributed to us becoming a hypercar manufacturer and world-renowned high-performance vehicle tuning business.”
Shortly after founding the company, John Hennessey turned his attention to boosting the now-iconic Dodge Viper’s performance. By 1997 he achieved an important accolade with his 650hp Hennessey Viper Venom GTS being the first to break 200mph. Since 2006, the company’s recently extended 51,000 sq-ft HQ has been next to its own test track enabling the acceleration of its R&D, engineering, and tuning business with cars like the 234mph, twin-turbo 1000hp Ford GT, and 200mph HPE 600 Corvette C7 produced by the experienced team of Hennessey engineers.
By 2010, the business had built its own hypercar, the Hennessey Venom GT. Based on a Lotus Exige chassis, the 1244hp monster weighed just 2743lb and was powered by a turbocharged Hennessey V8 that enabled 0-200mph in just 14.51 seconds. The Venom GT set a production car Guinness World Record for the fastest 0-300kph time (13.63 seconds) in 2013, then followed that in 2014 with another world record, becoming the fastest production car in the world with a 270.49mph top speed.
Today, alongside producing upwards of 500 customer cars a year, the Hennessey team focuses on the all-new 100% bespoke Hennessey Venom F5 hypercar. This ‘decathlete of hypercars’ boasts 1817hp from its Hennessey-built 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine and targets a top speed exceeding 311mph (500kph).