A week away from one of the most exciting moments of the year, and that’s when the 50th Anniversary Gator Nationals kick off.
Being that this is the 50th year for the Gator Nationals you can bet your ass that it will be an event to remember. Let’s not forget that this is also the first event of the NHRA season that includes classes like Pro Stock Motorcycle and the RPM Association Pro Mods.
While there have been some rumblings around the Pro Mod pits, there are others that have been very quiet in the offseason. We haven’t heard much out of the Mike Castellana camp or the Mike Janis camp, but that isn’t too unusual as they are normally overseas racing in the offseason as well. As we saw at Orlando last weekend though, Pro Mod is yet again going to be one of the toughest fields to compete in. At any point in the season you may see the points leader miss the cut.
Other news included the fact that Steve Matusek, the Founder at Aeromotive Fuel Systems has joined with Lights Out X Champion Alex Laughlin and 2X Pro Stock World Champion Erica Enders as part of the three car Elite Motorsports team to compete in 2019. The news that dropped everyone’s jaw was that one of the greatest door car drivers in the history of drag racing, none other than Rickie Smith, is making the transition to a Proline powered, turbocharged Mustang in NHRA Pro Mod this season. Tuner Icon Steve Petty has been helping them get everything sorted out, and if Orlando was any indication, Rickie is going to be on the property to take everyone’s lunch money, along with another championship.
Stevie Fast has essentially become the fact of NHRA Pro Mod, whether you like it or not, and there is no apologizing for that. He was also at Orlando shaking out his brand-new Camaro that will be running for the championship this year. He comes to win, and nothing else is a “victory” for him in 2019. Along with the turbo and blower guys, there are a couple of guys that feel they can still compete, and even with the gas. Bob Rahaim and Chad Green are the two carrying the nitrous flag for now. Bob was very happy with his performance at Orlando, and with Dean Marinis & Pat Musi helping Chad Green out, you know that neither of those cars will be pushovers.
What about Pro Stock Motorcycle though? Well that was filled with some very interesting news in the offseason. The first of which literally made me think that hell had frozen over. Angella Sampey joined the Vince and Hines team on a limited basis. I can’t even believe that I just typed that again. It will be great to see someone with so much talent riding something that can put her in the Winner Circle again. Another announcement out of PSM was that Karen Stoffer would be joining the White Alligator racing team. She will team up with Jerry Savioe on the Suzuki that was previously ridden by L.E. Tonglet.
Stay tuned to see what else is in store as we lead into the Gators, and of course our coverage of the event.