DRIVERS TALK ABOUT CHANGES IN PRO STOCK CLASS
Late on the afternoon of Dec. 4, NHRA announced a historic decision regarding the Pro Stock class.
NHRA is going to allow Pro Stock racers to run any currently approved engine combination in any currently approved body, regardless of the manufacturer, during the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
The announcement is something a handful of Pro Stock drivers believe is a positive step for the class – a class which was hampered with low car counts last season.
“I think this is a good place to start,” said Drew Skillman, who has been competing in the Pro Stock Class since 2015. “We will see if it works. If it doesn’t we will hopefully be able to correct it and if it does work, we will keep running with it. We are kind of at a crossroads, we must do something. That’s at least something to try that’s not effecting people financially.”
Veteran Pro Stock driver Shane Gray concurred with Skillman. Gray’s son, Tanner, finished fourth in the 2017 point standings and won NHRA’s rookie of the year with the Auto Club Road to the Future Award.
“We will see if this works, it can’t hurt anything,” Shane said. “I don’t have a problem with it. This might put a few more cars out because people who have Fords might bring them out and lease a Chevrolet or something.”
NHRA’s decision is hopefully going to be a catalyst for a wider range of cars like Fords as Gray mentioned, and Dodge Darts to go along with the Chevy Camaro, which has been the most popular choice for drivers to run recently.
“I definitely think this is a step in the right direction,” said Deric Kramer, who has been competing in the Pro Stock Class since 2012. “I definitely think getting more cars out here is the goal and I think this will get us in that direction. The fans at the end of the day care what the body is because they can’t go buy one of these engines off the shelf anyway. Most of the people who I have talked to in the pits will say that is a big V-8, they don’t really know that it is a Mopar casting or that it is a GM casting, and they don’t really care. They just care that the car looks like a Camaro or their favorite Mopar. If you look at the list we have out there who are part-time racers we have 25 to 30 people who are active racers, but they are like myself, they don’t go to all the races. Well, if we can get them to two more races because they have a competitive chance we should make it easier for them to go to races not harder to go to races.”
Kramer, who drove Dodges in his Pro Stock career is switching over to a Chevy Camaro for the first time in 2018, and will be under the Ken Black racing umbrella with reigning world champion Bo Butner along with Greg Anderson and Jason Line.
“I think that the ability to put any 500-cubic inch combination with EFI under any body style is only going to make the class bigger,” Kramer said. “It can’t hurt the class. I still have two Dodge Darts sitting in the shop and at any given time, if we need to test another car, we have the ability to do so now, which I really do like.”
John Nobile, a former longtime Pro Stock racer, who helps tune his son Vincent’s Pro Stock cars, offered his thoughts about Pro Stock’s most recent changes. Vincent is going to run a Chevy Camaro in the upcoming season.
“Everybody is going to have a GM motor,” John said. “That will probably be good for the class because the guys who want to race a Dodge, and we know that the Dodge will not run with the GMs with the limited RPM, so now if they build a GM motor and stick it in a Dodge it will run just as good as anything we have got. The same thing with a Ford. If a guy wants to race a Ford and gets himself a GM motor and sticks it in there he can come racing. We are looking for participation (in the Pro Stock class) and I think this will add participation. What NHRA is doing with any motor in any car, as long as it is 500-cubic inches, I believe that is a step in the right direction.”
Skillman, who is going to run a Chevy Camaro again in the 2018 season, touched on some of the topics Nobile addressed.
“Ford came out with a new body a couple of years ago that’s extremely good looking and I think there will be some guys, if they have the chance, they might build one,” Skillman said. “I think initially no (this change isn’t going to add depth to the class). This is going to take a while. This isn’t an overnight deal. They just released this (Dec. 4) and you might get one or two guys come back out of the woodwork, but it just depends on who is willing to lease them a motor to get them started. I’m excited for the future of it just because they are trying to do something that’s positive. This is the first positive thing to happen to Pro Stock in a long time. Hopefully we will get more guys (racing in Pro Stock) I certainly hope so. The water is not as scary as everyone thinks in Pro Stock. You need to get in and see what happens.”