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Rocky Pirrone

Rocky Pirrone…More than a RACER!

Rocky Pirrone, President/Owner of Joe Pirrone Transmissions in Philadelphia, Pa., may have had pretty humble beginnings, but he’s come a long way, driven by a passion for racing and the ability to handle all of life’s curveballs. He went from sweeping floors and re-building transmissions at age 13 with his father, to opening his own shop at the age of 18, to running the Pirrone & Ellershaw race team today.
Rocky's dad Joe Pirrone Jr. was a long time drag racer and was inducted into the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame for his development of the Racing Automatic Transmissions. Rocky and Joe built and raced numerous cars in the 1980's and 1990's racing with the Wild Bunch and Hot Rod from Hells. Rocky acquired his NHRA license in 1981 and upgraded his license to include ADV-ET and Special Fuel (Nitro) in 1999. Rocky was one of the first to achieve his Nostalgia Fuel License on the East Coast.

Rocky had no idea how far his passion for racing would take him. The re-build of the Big Time Memories AA/GS in 1997 was the just the beginning of the Pirrone/Ellershaw race team. It was during this first endeavor that he lost his father to a very short battle of throat cancer. The devastating loss served as even more motivation for Rocky.

Family never took a backseat to racing. Rocky was blessed with a daughter in 1999 who, coincidentally, was born while drag racing was being televised! With three sons already involved in school sports, Rocky decided to take a step back from racing for awhile and share his love of football with his kids. And Rocky has some first-hand experience as George Washington High School’s All Public Running back. He became the head football coach for the Bensalem Ramblers Youth Football Program with his boys. When they entered junior high, he became a side line coach.

In 2002, a long-time plan of Rocky’s came to fruition, which would serve as a rolling tribute to his father. He had the opportunity to recreate his father’s Boss Hydro 33 Willys AA/GS. The original car was built and raced in 1967 and ran against some of the top names in the sport such as K.S. Pittman, Jr. Thompson and Big John Mazmanian. Going out to the garage became a family outing, filled with laughter, love, and even work. (Or handing Daddy the tools and pretending to work!)

Life has its many challenges but Rocky always tackled each one, always leading with family being his first priority. In 2003, Rocky's wife Donna, who has loved drag racing since she was a teen, headed to Atco. She never thought the day would eventually come when her husband said, "I want to drive a Nitro Funny Car.” Donna knew there was an enormous difference between watching racers and watching her husband behind the wheel of a car that would run deep in the six second zone at over 220 mph!

But knowing that Rocky has always made safety a main priority, and that he had a natural talent for driving, the decision was easy. So in 2003, Rocky built the "Nitro Charger" funny car. With the help of his amazing crew that Includes Bill Ellershaw, Tom Fox and a host of others, the “Nitro Charger” became the first of many funny cars for Rocky.

Today, Rocky heads the Pirrone & Ellershaw race team which team runs seven supercharged race cars in various classes. The Big Time Memories is a 7.50 second 1941 Willys coupe. Boss Hydro, K.S. Pittman and Big John Mazmanian tribute cars all run in the tough "Classical AA/GS Group". The Screamin Eagle is one of the fastest and winnings E.T. Nostalgia Alcohol Funny cars in the world. The Soul Survivor is a 1967 era Don Long Competition coupe that is used as a cackle car and the Frantic Ford is a tribute to Jimmy Fox, Ron Rivero and the late Dodger Glenn. It’s a charter member of the "Classical Nitro AA/FC Group".

The team has many major event wins including:

-Three NHRA Hot Rod Reunion Victories.
-A 2012 NHRA US Nationals win.
-Victory in the Nostalgia Nitro Funny Car class at the Funny Car Reunion at Englishtown NJ.
-Multiple victories in the Alcohol Nostalgia Class at the Maple Grove "Geezers" events.
-Multiple victories at the Funny Car Reunion in the Alcohol Funny Car class.
-Winner of the Jim Oddy AA/GS Shootout at Lancaster Raceway.
-Multiple victories at the Thompson Ohio "Gasser Reunion" in the AA/GS class.
-Multiple victories in the AA/GS class at the "Pa. Gasser Nationals" in Beaver Springs, PA.
-Above list is only a partial list and doesn't include the team’s countless match races and open shows.

Over the years, Rocky has not only built and driven dozens of supercharged race cars, he has also helped many others achieve their dreams of a chance to be crew members. He’s even helped a few talented folks to earn their NHRA drivers license. The team has had some of the top drivers in drag racing wheel Rocky’s cars. US Nationals winner and Drag Racing Hall of Fame driver Bones Balog drives the Big John Mazmanian at national events. US Nationals Winner Fred Bear wheels the K.S. Pittman 33 Willys at National Events.
In addition, Rocky is actively involved in the Nostalgia Drag Racing movement, booking and promoting racing events. He is also a leader in drag racing organizations with him heading both the "Classical AA/GS Group" and "Classical Nitro AA/FC Group".


the build is on DONE!

latest headlines

  • The Frantic Ford was constructed by fabricators Steve Gruenwald and Dale Smith at Coyote Composites in Jupiter, Florida.

  • The Frantic Ford '69 body was taken from a mold from the original Gas Ronda 1969 Ford Mustang.

  • First scheduled appearance for 2014 will be at the Motorama Event in Harrisburg, PA.
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rocky pirrone

Rocky is the President / Owner of Joe Pirrone Transmissions located in Philadelphia, PA and has a toy box of cars that are awesome including the SCREAMIN EAGLE FUNNY CAR, SOUL SURVIVOR TF COUPE, GASSERS … BOSS HYDRO TRIBUTE, K.S PITTMAN TRIBUTE CAR and BIG TIME MEMORIES.

When asked about his early memories of the Frantic Ford funny car Rocky commented, "It's funny. The Frantic Ford Mustang was the first funny car that I ever worked on as a nine year old kid, helping Jimmy Fox with between round maintenance. My dad Joe built the transmissions for this car and having the chance to bring it back to life is something I am looking forward to."

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Say hello to Quik-Latch hood pins and multi-purpose push button fasteners.

Please welcome MSD Ignition to the Frantic Ford Team.

Fel-Pro/Federal Mogul Motorparts have come aboard.

Clark Copper Head Gaskets are now the offical gaskets of the Frantic Ford Team.

NEC Financial Services have jumped aboard the Frantic Ford Funny Car Team as marketing partners.

Al was on the MotorMouth Radio Show today.

Our own Al Liebmann on The Drag Racing Tonight Reunion Show August 2016.

FRANTIC FORD FUNNY CAR with their great sponsors supporting ARTIES PARTY 2016 @ Syracuse Nationals. #lucasoil #TubOTowels #POR15 #CRCauto.

Ear Peace is a new sponsor on the Frantic Ford.

The Frantic Ford team supports The 2nd Annual Staff Sergeant Alex Viola Car Show.

American Rebel is the new wheel's for the Frantic Ford.

The world's hardest working wipes--Tub O' Towels are now on the Frantic Ford team.

Hot off the Press Frantic Ford vs USA-1 at The 14th Holley National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance, June 16-18, 2016, at Beech Bend, KY

Rust prevention experts POR15 are now part of the Frantic Ford team.

Welcome Hedman Hedders to the Frantic Ford family.

Thanks Sam Piro for being part of our team with your SNAP-ON franchise.

For all your tool needs call Sam @ 201 481-3891 ask for the "Frantic Friend Tool Deal".

After years of petitioning by Bobby Frey, Dodger Glenn will be inducted into the Maple Grove Walk of Fame. Induction will take place Sun Oct 4 at the 31st NHRA Keystone Nationals.

We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Nick Bonifante. "Nitro Nick" ran a successful group of AA & BB/Funny Cars throughout the nation for many years. We'll miss you Nick.

Our own Al Liebmann was featured on the Event Radio Production broadcast from Bowling Green.

Garvin Motorsports seat inserts & head supports has joined the Frantic Ford team.

Welcome Red Line Shirt Club to the Frantic Ford & Super Camaro Sponsorship Family for 2015. Look for a new design being sold at events featuring the Frantic Ford.

FF welcomes Boninfante Friction, Inc to our team as products sponsors. Boninfante Friction is the world leader in friction clutch manufacturing for the motorsports market. Boninfante creates custom clutches for an array of applications from street car to full race clutches, from top fuel dragsters and nitro funny cars to F1 and F1H2O boats. Thanks to Nicky Boninfante & Rob Boninfante for all your help.

Getting HOT! in the FRANTIC FORD CAMP for 2015 even in the WINTER .. Check out the Winter Edition of FRANTIC NEWS for what's new and exciting!!

K&W products are now running on the Frantic Ford.

The December Frantic News is now available. Happy New Year to everyone!

Team Frantic Ford will be looking cool in 2015 styling with our Crown Deluxe Sunglasses.

Welcome Sta-Lube to the Frantic Ford team.

Scott Weney, chassis builder & Pres of S&W Race Cars passed away today. More info.

How would you like to get your hands on this Ed Roth inspired Frantic Ford Metal Sculpture?

Take a look at this decal set designed by Slixx Decals.

We have a new page dedicated to Frantic Ford Art.

JUST IN !! Pirrone & Ellershaw Racing will be fielding a 1970 Camaro AA/FC to run against the Frantic Ford and others in match race competition for 2015. Car name and drivers currently under negotiations. More to follow within the next few months.

Street Rod and Custom Radio interview with the FRANTIC FORD @ Arties Party.

Frantic Ford is bringing back everything you loved about going to the drag strip in the 70's--the dry hops, long burn-outs, and of course the girls backing up the cars. Bonspeed Brad Fanshaw gets it all from Al Liebmann. LISTEN HERE.

It's been busy in the  FRANTIC FORD CAMP for the month of July. Check out the new issue of FRANTIC NEWS that includes YORK REUNION and ARTIE'S PARTY.

Getting HOT in the FRANTIC FORD CAMP for 2014. So to cool off check out the June issue of FRANTIC NEWS while you are enjoying a cold beverage.

The Frantic Ford is now on Pinterest.

For your viewing pleasure the Spring 2014 Frantic News.

Champion Spark Plugs has joined the Frantic Ford Team.

Welcome aboard our newest product sponsor Empire Covers.

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