Date published: December 17, 2010
After several years of running as an exhibition series at NHRA events, Pro Mod racers were given an NHRA series of their own for the first time with the establishment of the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Racers responded by providing an exciting season of competition during the 10-race series.
Fans were treated to the excitement of watching the fastest doorslammers in competition do battle on the quarter-mile. The class is known for different body styles, wild paint schemes, and three different choices of induction delivered on all fronts. Races were won by supercharged, turbocharged, and nitrous-oxide-equipped hot rods alike during the course of the season.
The series kicked off at the 41st annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals with Kenny Lang becoming the first official winner by defeating Michael Gullqvist in the final. The event featured 25 entries, and Jay Payne made the quickest Pro Mod run at an NHRA event with a 5.809-second pass in the first round.
The series moved on to Houston, where Danny Rowe showed how tight the level of competition is in Pro Mod. After failing to qualify at the season opener, Rowe qualified No. 3, won the first round on a holeshot, and went on to win the event. His Jimmy Rector-tuned '68 Camaro would remain in title contention until the end of the season.
Following a pattern, Von Smith, who also didn't qualify at the season opener, won the next event in Madison. His Al-Anabi-backed, Howard Moon-tuned '68 Camaro came within a point of then-leader Lang at that event. He would take the lead at the next event in Atlanta and not relinquish it for the rest of the season. Smith posted a semifinal finish in Atlanta before scoring back-to-back wins in Englishtown and Bristol, scoring 14 of 16 possible round-wins in a four-race span.
During Smith's dominating four-race stretch, Gullqvist made a bit of history in Atlanta. The Swedish driver was a last-minute replacement for driver Ray Commisso in one of Roger Burgess' entries, and he answered the call by putting the R2B2 '68 Camaro in the winner's circle. In doing so, he became the series' first European victor.
The Englishtown event was unique in that it was home to the first five-second field in series history. In fact, two drivers - Melanie Troxel and Tim Tindle - posted five-second runs but were unable to crack the 5.980-second bump held by Rickie Smith.
The domination of blown entries in the winner's circle ended in Norwalk when Pat Musi, who went to two Pro Stock finals in 1981, drove Frank Brandao's fuel-injected '09 Stratus through four rounds of competition. Only one blown entry, driven by Commisso, reached the semifinals, and the nitrous-injected entries of Musi and Smith and the turbocharged entry driven by Brad Personett reached the final four.
The turbos stole the show when Pro Mods invaded the Big Go. Personett was the star of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, held at his home track in Indianapolis. En route to a stunning victory, he recorded the fastest speed ever, 255.39 mph during a secondround win against Lang, by a full-bodied car, his Big Stuff 3 '68 Camaro. Though Personett had a single in the final when Joe Baker was unable to show, he made it there in dramatic fashion when his team and others thrashed to repair his entry after a top-end fire in the semifinals.
Troxel joined in on the fun when she won in her fourth different category at the fall Charlotte event. The popular driver, who was driving in the Funny Car class at the same event, wheeled Burgess' blown In-N-Out Burger entry to the podium from the bottom half of the field and became the first female Pro Mod winner of any sanction. Troxel made a great deal of laps throughout the season, competing twice in England and once in Germany in the FIA series.
The winners of the previous two events met in the money round at the season closer in Las Vegas. With Smith already having the season prize firmly in hand, Personett and Troxel carved their respective ways through the field and battled for the Wally and points position. Personett proved too hot to handle with low e.t. and top speed of the meet in the final round. It was the eighth consecutive time that Personett set top speed.
The five-second, 250-mph doorslammers and the constant battles between race cars of supercharged, turbocharged, and nitrous-oxide persuasion have made the kickoff of the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series a rousing success. With the class' popularity increasing exponentially, the 2011 season promises even more excitement. ND