Well folks the week is finally upon us. That’s right, it’s time to fire up the NHRA pro mods this weekend in Gainesville. There have been plenty of offseason moves so let’s look at what we can expect.
Last season we wrapped up the year with Troy Coughlin winning another NHRA Pro Mod World Championship. Since then though, Troy has decided to hang up his driving boots and concentrate on some family time. This leaves the field wide open in the chase towards that championship in 2018.
The leader for most of last season was the man from NY, Mr. Mike Castellana. Is his AAP backed, blown Camaro, Mike really had a strangle hold on the class for a good part of the season before a last season stumble that allowed Troy to end up with the championship. Mike has been out testing this week to make sure that Camaro is ready to make a run at the title.
There are plenty of regulars that are coming back this season as well. Some of the nitrous contenders were looking strong in early season testing. Rickie Smith dropped numbers in Orlando during World Outlaw Nationals in January that really opened some eyes and dropped some jaws. Another nitrous legend, Billy Glidden is back in 2018 as well. Billy had some strong passes during the RPM Warm Up in Orlando last month. You can never count him out either. Bob Rahaim, and his nitrous powered Camaro is working through some issues, but he has shown in the past that he has the ability to run big numbers with the giggle juice.
Blower cars seem to one the consistent ones this offseason as well. Stevie Jackson will be back to show that his freshman season was no fluke. The man who always has something to say, has made it abundantly clear that he is there to win. Aeromotive Founder Steve Matusek has his Camaro rolling right along as well. He was there with his teammate Danny Rowe at Orlando for the RPM Warm Up as well.
Speaking of Danny Rowe, he is just one of numerous drivers that are going to be competing with a new car this season. Gone is Danny’s Corvette, and in is a brand-new Camaro. Danny looked very strong in Orlando during testing as well. He is certainly not the only player with a new car though. One of the fastest outlaw pro mod drivers, Jose Gonzalez is making his way over to the NHRA sandbox. He is a previous PDRA World Champion and now will be wheeling a brand-new Proline powered Camaro. Another new hot rod this season is coming out of the Turbo Pig camp. Clint Satterfield rolled out his brand new old school Camaro, which is a Carl Steven’s powered turbo entry. He and Bob are getting the new cars issues ironed out and should be a solid entry this season.
While we are talking about new rides in NHRA Pro Mod, it’s time to talk about all the new drivers coming over to this season. The talk about having 35 entries this weekend is about how many newer NHRA drivers we have. First and foremost, on everyone’s mind is Melanie Salemi’s Purple Reign Firebird. They have made the decision to run the entire 2018 season over in NHRA. Another newbie on the scene this season, is another racer coming over from the PDRA ranks. None other than Jeremy Ray. Jeremy took the win during the RPM Warm Up in Orlando. His consistency is something that he will certainly need in this tough field of superstars. Chad Green from Texas is another name that most haven’t heard of but decided to enter the NHRA pro mod waters this year. There are some other names that are going to be newer to the causal fan. Names like Rick Distefano, Brandon Pesz, Rick Hord, Jeffrey Barker, and more.
Certainly, can’t forget about the turbo cars. They tend to run huge numbers and scare everyone on the property. Shane Molinari, Sindei Frigo, Michael Biehle, Dan Stevenson, Harry Hruska, Ruben Tetsoshvili, Carl Stevens, are just some of the regulars that you will see not only at Gainesville, but throughout the season. They all look to show the blower cars that the turbo cars are still king of hill when it comes to NHRA Pro Mods. What I have seen in early season testing, when these turbo cars go A to B, they will be hard to beat.
This NHRA Pro Mod season looks to be the most hotly contested ever. It may truly be the only class where we have 28+ cars that all have a chance to qualify and everyone from 1-16 on the ladder could certainly take the win. Even though we didn’t talk about it, you cannot forget that we will be seeing the Whiteley family, both Steven and Jim competing the season, along with so many others. Steven took home a win last season and looked amazingly strong in Orlando last month.
Some other things to remember about this season when looking at pro mod is that this will be the first season where pro mod will be getting a fourth qualifier all season. They will also be competing on Sundays when the other pro teams will have their eliminations. There is also a new rule in regards to transmissions. Nitrous cars will be allowed a lockup torque converter.
It’s time to strap in and get ready for the most exciting pro mod season in history. Stay tuned to E3xtreme for coverage of the Gatornationals. We will be there all weekend, and if you want to watch the event live, make sure to go check out NHRA All Access, which for the $100 or so that it costs, is really the best deal in drag racing.