It all started at the second Cleetus and Cars event at Bradenton Motorsports Park. I saw Heffner Performance had one of the new 2017 Ford GT with them at the event. I was speaking to Marshall who did the photography and social media at the time, and he owned a wide body C6 Corvette. I loved that car and was talking to him about it when he mentioned that he was in search of some blue tape to put on back of the Ford GT so they could make a hit on the track and not mess the car up at all. I replied that I had my welding bucket in the back of my Typhoon and had some blue tape in it. Because I was able to provide the blue tape (right place, right time), this went down as the first known taking of the New Ford GT making a ¼ mile hit at a drag strip.
Later that night when it settled down, the hype around the car was high. I spoke with Jason Heffner who brought the car out with the car owner’s permission to the track. I had met with Jason several times over the years since I had been trying to gain employment at his shop for years at that point. I was very young at the time, I had formally met with Jason and instantly he always acknowledged my welding skills were the most proficient and consistent welds he has seen, but I lacked in my experience in fabricating on High Performance Exotic Sports-cars. I was a very good pipe fitter as I fit process tubing for 7 years now, which I was very proficient as well.
A month prior to this event, I had just completed a full custom stainless exhaust on my cousin Emmitt’s C7 Z06 Corvette that I was able to show Jason. He was able to see my performance fabrication skills and that someone trusted me to work on their 100k car. We further exchanged contact info and ended the night with some good ole Cleetus and car demonstration drag racing. Not but a month later, I had left the process industry and went to Heffner once again hoping to finally get a chance of employment with them.
As a leading developer in the high-performance exotic cars industry, especially being local, I always wanted to work in such a reputable shop. They are known for innovation, drivability, reliability, and craftsmanship. Just two weeks later I received a text from Jason asking if I had ever welded titanium and that he would like for me to come in and work for a day. I told a fib and said that I had messed with some titanium before that it welded similar to stainless, knowing I’d never even touched a piece of titanium. I began to YouTube, “How to weld titanium?” That night, I found videos from Weld.com’s “TIG Time” with Mr. TIG. That’s where I got my fundamentals on how to TIG weld titanium. I went in on that day and he gave me piece of titanium tubing to run a few coupons. I was very satisfied with how my first welds came out, full penetration and did a good job shielding it. He went on a couple of times about how good my coupons looked which made me feel even more better about my welds. Then, he proceeded to present me with my task which was building the tips for the titanium exhaust that’s going on the New Ford GT. I was super stoked for this first job, and it went very well! Jason proceeded to asked me if I’d like to come back on Monday. That next Monday was January 1st and my first official day of employment with Heffner Performance where I was employed for over 3 1/2 years.
I recently left and started my own shop, Superformance Fab. It’s crazy to think back to a day at the track in support of a local YouTuber’s event, that I just supplied someone with some blue tape to run an iconic car…that it led to my first ever titanium component ever built. This piece went on a car, which at the time became the first modified new Ford GT in the world. This being such a memorable moment for me in time and building me to the welder and fabricator that I am today. From building one of the baddest full titanium twin turbo systems on a Ford GT, to being part of the design, development and building of all the titanium exhaust systems on Ford GT and $1.2 million track only MK2 cars. The coolest thing to come from Ford GT, for me, is having the opportunity to build a titanium MK2 system for Jay Leno that he installed on his car, the one where he is on his Restoration Vlog stating how good the welds look, admiring the system I built and installing it on Tim Allen’s car. Yes, Santa Claus! I got to build Santa Claus’s titanium exhaust.
I will never forget all these amazing opportunities that came from one car. I never imagined, especially being a Chevy guy, that a Ford would make such an impact on my career. Something as simple as having a conversation about someone else’s car and just having what they were looking for in my welding bucket. Man, that took me to some great heights career wise… it’s still unbelievable.
~Jeff Ray, Superformance Fab.