Hensley Performance of Knoxville, TN Tennessee




Growing up Hensley meant that Matt was either at the race track, in the shop or going from one to the other. He held a wrench before a spoon. Every item he owned that had wheels, also had a homemade parachute. His dad gave him air conditioner motors to tear down and one of those tiny pistons sits on our counter today. He learned to drive by backing the race car truck and trailer down into the back yard. He drove the car hauler to high school. At thirteen, we pulled the 1963 Station Wagon out of storage and gave him the parts to start building a motor and tranny for it. At 14, the car was running. At 15, we got him a special permit so that he could race at a local track. Then, he went to work for Eagle Racing Engines. Starting out as the cleanup guy, Matt learned quickly and in about a year and a half was plumbing all the Eagle enginesí nitrous (designing, bending the tubing and running all the system). When we opened up Hensley Performance, he was ready to take over the responsibility of running his own shop.


Somewhere along the way, he had gradually taken over Kenís Hemi Cuda and began to go pretty fast, running IHRAís Super Stock and getting to the semi-finals several times. But the old Cuda was a factory car, there was no cutting allowed. So in 1995 Matt bought a second 68 Cuda and built it to run NHRA SuperStock. He won his first national event at Bristol and became a 3 time IHRA world record holder. Due in part to the influence of Bob Reed, the automatic got canned and in came a 4-speed. At this time, the very first Hemi shootouts began and Matt was captured. Until 2006, NHRA did not allow straight shift cars in the Hemi Challenge, but Matt ran every Hemi shootout he could find. In 2006, the new Hemi Class was formed and Matt could now compete with the rest of the Hemi Barracudas and Darts for the prestigious Hemi Challenge. He has been in the semi-finals in the Shootout and the regular Super Stock many times. At the US Nationals in 2007, Matt and his cuda held top MPH in the Hemi Challenge. He has designed and built his entire car twice and that means from the frame up. He does all his own head designs, porting, etc. Builds his intakes, oil pans, valve covers and anything else that he needs. And, after a couple of years of chasing all the guys with unlimited bucks, he got runner-up in the final Hemi shootout of 2007.