Words: John Gunnell Photos: John Gunnell and Christa Haley
Dave Modder of Twin Lakes, Wis., is a full-time airline Captain with over 12,000 hours of flying time. Modder, who is also a licensed aircraft mechanic, has flown everything from crop dusters to Lear Jets.
Modder’s interest in jet cars began at age 14, when he saw a jet car race for the first time at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wis. Twenty-two years later, he became the owner of The Dragon Fyre jet dragster, a highly modified 1940 Ford pickup truck powered by a General Electric J-85-17 jet engine.
“If you never lose sight of your goal and are willing to put in enough hard work, your dreams can become a reality,” Modder said. He now has two decades of experience in the field of jet powered land vehicles. He is known for his 100 percent run completion record and having a perfect safety record after 700 runs.
The Dragon’s Fyre took six months to build and was completed in spring of 2011. The Ford pickup body is chopped 3-1/2 in. and channeled 10 in. It has a 4130 chrome molly steel chassis. Zrods took care of the truck’s Fire Engine Red paint. Sponsors of the project include A-1 Lift Truck, Hunters Fabrication & Design LLC and Wenninger Compressor Co.
The Dragon’s Fyre has a 135-in. wheelbase and is 17 ft. long. It weighs in at 1,550 lbs. empty. The GE jet engine puts out approximately 6,000 pounds of thrust. The truck has a Competition Fabrication chassis. It can be operated on either kerosene or Jet A fuel. It burns about 30 gallons of fuel per run and 2 gallons of kerosene per second when in afterburner mode.
The truck has made over 300 passes down the quarter mile at speeds above 200 mph; the top speed it hit on a drag strip run is 220 mph. Its quickest elapsed time was 6.9 seconds. The J-85-17 puts out approximately 6,000 horsepower.
Dave Modder is also an active volunteer firefighter for the Randall Township Fire Dept. of Kenosha County, Wis. The Dragon’s Fyre promotes the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (www.firehero.org). It raised awareness of this worthwhile organization by putting in an appearance at the 2017 Milwaukee World of Wheels in February. It was cold and snowy outside, but there was definitely something hot about Dave’s truck.