In what is now old news, most of you know that the NHRA has taken over control of the Pro Mod class and RPM (Real Pro Mod) has disbanded. What does that mean for the future of the class though?
Pro mod is arguably the most entertaining and exciting class in all of NHRA racing. You can argue all day about the different classes and what they bring to the table, but the fact is that you have multiple body designs, multiple different power adders, and a host of characters in the class. You also have tight fields race after race, along with a point battle that still mathematically includes the top five.
The concern is “what next” for pro mods at that level though. I have had long chats with multiple drivers recently and over time about the health of the class, as well as how things were being handled with RPM in charge. Concerned ranged from a “buddy club” system of entry, to having PR in place that only concentrated on certain teams, to having 9 teams sharing two sponsors (AAP & Bahrain1), to scheduling, rules, and a plethora of other issues. With all those issues, and more, how is NHRA going to move the pro mod series forward in a meaningful manner?
Rules are always going to be an issue in this class. It just is what it is when it comes to that. Everyone wants the rules slanted to favor their combo, even if it is just ever so slightly. The nitrous guys want more cubic and less weight (which I would personally love to see), but then you will have the blower and turbo cars want their boost back. So, do you give nitrous drivers a 959 at low weight, give the turbos 38psi, and the blowers 21%? Now that might be damn fun to watch.
Looking past the rules and onto some of the positive things that I have heard. My understanding is that we will not see a quota next season in Pro Mod. That would mean you may see 40 pro mods on the property in Gainesville. That certainly isn’t a bad thing. And with NHRA at the helm when it comes to entry, no longer will you have to pay your “fees” or “dues” with RPM and buy your way in. That is a big hurdle that many teams will no longer have to deal with. Anytime you can lessen the burden on these teams and make them want to be part of the show, the better off the class and organization are.
Another concern moving forward though is the PR and Marketing of Pro Mod. When RPM was in place, at least they had someone to handle some of those things. Whether you liked the job that was being done, which I personally didn’t, at least they had someone. Let’s face it, NHRA hasn’t exactly done a stellar job when it comes to marketing anything but Nitro, and we aren’t getting full fields there either. Pro mod is a market that is niche for a lot of fans and needs the attention of people who actually understand it and its place within the industry. I hope to hell NHRA doesn’t drop the ball on this one like they have numerous other times.
What about the concern that NHRA will turn Pro Mod into Pro Stock? I don’t believe that you will see the Pro Mod drivers race anything more than 12 races a year. Most are still business owners that rely on income from their business to race. This also means that the NHRA cannot run the class ragged though. There is a time and place for Pro Mod, and unfortunately the west coast isn’t that time or place in my opinion. Look at larger weight breaks for older body style cars as well. One of the best things about Pro Mod has always been the car diversity, and that is what makes it so much different than any other class. No one wants Pro Mod to turn into the shit show that Pro Stock has become, where every car is exactly the same only a different color wrap.
I have also been told by sources that Pro Mod will now be included on the telecast. Well, so is Pro Stock and Pro Stock Bike, and let’s face it, that’s a fucking joke. If Pro Mods are going to be included, I hope it isn’t some breeze through 120 seconds of bullshit like everyone, but Nitro gets. The schedule is something that has been talked about as well. Rumor is that Norwalk won’t have Pro Mod in 2020, but Brainerd & Denver will. Not sure who the hell thinks that is a brilliant plan, but it’s not. Brainerd maybe, but certainly not Denver. Wes Buck, who I have the utmost respect for, and puts on a tremendous event with a huge payout has an impossible time getting pro mods to come to the mountain and race. Why NHRA thinks they could do better is beyond me.
Time will tell when it comes to the NHRA and how they handle the best thing they have had in 20 years. We will all be watching, and you can bet your ass when they do it right, I will praise the shit outta them, and when they drop the ball and fuck it up, I will call them out on it. This is a golden opportunity for the NHRA to move into the 21st century and start reaching fans that have long moved away from the NHRA. Fans connect with Erica Enders, Alex Laughlin, Stevie Jackson, Rickie Smith, and so many more. So, try not to screw it up!