WHITELEY ON WSOPM: ‘THIS WILL BE THE STUFF HISTORY IS MADE OF’
Seeing the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod make its debut at Bandimere Speedway on Aug. 4-5 makes Jim Whiteley feel like a proud parent. Whiteley’s drag racing career started at the Denver-area track, breaking numerous track records and winning multiple events in his Top Alcohol Dragster. Now driving his Pro Mod in the biggest and richest Pro Mod race in history, with a $100,000 winner-take-all prize on the line, Whiteley can sense the magnitude of the unique event.
“It’s just home and it’s going to be fun to bring the best cars in the country out there,” said Whiteley, who lives in Grand Junction, Colo. “You haven’t seen a lot of Pro Mods at Bandimere, so this is going to be big, one of the biggest blowouts you can have for a private, non-sanctioning-body race. This will be the stuff history is made of.”
As one of the 14 drivers who accepted the invitation for Saturday’s main event, Whiteley hopes he’s on the right side of history by the end of the night. To do so, he’ll have to start with an opening-round win against Pro Mod veteran Pete Farber. The highly-anticipated blower versus blower first-round pairing was announced last weekend on Drag Illustrated Editor-In-Chief Wes Buck’s live Facebook show, giving ample time for the matchup to marinate.
With Whiteley having his share of struggles thus far during the NHRA Pro Mod season, he wouldn’t make any bold first-round guarantees, only saying he knew he would have to be on top of his game in his ’69 Camaro against Farber.
“I’d love to tell him I’m going to kick his ass, but that’s a big statement and I have a lot of respect for him,” Whiteley said. “I’m glad I’m running Pete. It’s blower versus blower and I admire him. It’s just going to be a good race. He runs well and he’s got as much power as anybody. That’s a 250-mph-plus car and round for round this year, he’s had the better car than I’ve had. Hopefully we’ll be up for the challenge.”
Jim’s son Steven, who won the Gatornationals in Pro Mod this season, tested his father’s car in Norwalk following the NHRA event last month, making significant progress in a number of areas that had given them trouble in 2017. Getting that squared away will be imperative for Jim Whiteley, who won his first NHRA Pro Mod race in 2016. He’ll also be looking to make a good impression at his home track, as the World Series of Pro Mod will surprisingly mark the first time he’s raced in Pro Mod at Bandimere Speedway.
In Whiteley’s eyes, that means all his previous experience at the track gets thrown out the window, but that also only adds to his enthusiasm for the race.
“I’m extremely excited about it. I wish it was this weekend,” Whiteley said. “I think it’s the nicest track on the whole circuit. They’ll pack the stands and they will all be there to see Pro Mods.”
That’s a definite point of pride for Whiteley, who plans to utilize the two-day private test session to get everything honed in for the weekend. He joked that everyone will “see a lot of stuff blown up” during the test session, but that should lead to a thrilling Friday and Saturday of competition.
The Aeromotive Wild-Card Shootout winner on Friday gets $10,000 and a spot in Saturday’s main event, with the other spot coming via fan vote. With the scoreboards shut off, it adds another interesting twist, but Whiteley is excited by all of it, including the great unknown of the weekend.
“I think it’s going to be awesome and I’m pumped,” Whiteley said. “You show up here and there’s a chance to win a lot of money. You don’t have any idea of what’s going to happen. There’s a chance this could evolve into something big.”