Behind The Wheel - #21 - Jo Iacobelli
Fast Fords have always been a part of her life, with a little bit of Chevrolet bunched in the mix. Jo Iacobelli was born into a family of car nuts, with a specific love for Pony cars. They always say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and it deems true in her case. Jo spent her childhood riding in the backseat of either her mother, or father’s Mustang, the specific model of car that brought her parents together, and in 2015, that same car brought her to meeting her now husband, Bryan. Jo is currently the manager of special vehicle registry for Ford Performance, and when she’s not spending her time working with Fords, she finds herself piloting or wrenching on Fords.
Jo’s younger years were spent with her parents at their performance shop that they opened in 1990, or at the track, and for the last 12 years she has been drag racing and modifying cars. Seven years ago, Jo decided to get more in depth with drag racing and become more serious, so she spent time at the track with her nitrous 2007 Mustang GT, the car she met her husband with. She decided to join the dark side, and jumped into a 2009 Cadillac CTS-V, which she modified with heads, cam, intake, and a ported blower. The continuous seat and track time led her eager to go faster on a platform she knew she would be happier with, so she went back to her roots and now you will see her piloting her 2018 Ford Mustang GT.
Her 2018 Mustang GT is equipped with a 3.0 Whipple blower, heads, pistons, rods, and head studs. Long hours are spent in the garage with her husband Bryan as they work together as a power-couple, to complete his resto-mod SN95. The SN95 is receiving a coyote, Magnum XL trans, 6-rib Whipple, S550 interior, and a Holley dash. Although Jo has not seen track time with a manual car, she has goals to eventually drive the SN95 and get adequate seat time in hopes for her to go 9’s in a stick-shift car. She also told me of her potential other goals, “I would like to say my next goal is to go 7’s eventually. But to me if I can run 8.30’s and still drive my car to and from the track, that’s an accomplishment to me”. Her current fastest ET in her S550 is an 8.68 @ 162MPH.
Women heavily influence Jo and help her realize her potential. She told me one of her role models was Lyn St. James, but also her mother. “My mother has always been very supportive of me, and of being ‘different’. That was really important to me growing up”, she said. Her biggest advice to any woman would be, “Try no matter what. Don’t let someone discourage you from trying! Ask questions, a lot of experienced women are excited to help and want to watch new people succeed”. Although she has competed in roughly 40 events, she also found the time to compete in the Women & Wheels class at Streetcar Takeover Indianapolis in 2021. Her car was down at the time due to transmission issues, but she didn’t let that stop her from the chance to race alongside and meet other women. She jumped in her friend, Rick Spencer’s 6th generation ZL1 Camaro and went 2 rounds, and we spoke about her favorite memory from that event. “I really enjoyed when we all sat together in the staging lanes. We just sat around and talked to one another, and it was cool because we all felt like we had known each other. A lot of us had just met, but it didn’t feel like that”, she said. She decided she was going to find a way to compete in the class regardless of her current circumstance because, “There was a comfort level I felt that the class brought. It truly does feel like there is no judgement, and there are so many women with a similar mindset to yours”. As always, I asked her what she believes Women & Wheels can do for women, “I feel like it’s made a lot of women more comfortable to talk and speak up. In the last year I have heard from more women and seen more women out there. It has instilled confidence in them, but also instilled it in me to be comfortable talking to and meeting more women!”.
Jo Iacobelli has continuously gotten faster, learned more, and has high hopes to continue to do more. She has proven herself from days spent driving a 12-second Mustang to an 8-second Mustang, that we all start somewhere, and is an inspiration to women.
You can find Jo on Instagram @ that1320chick .