2018 WORLD SERIES OF PRO MOD - EVENT NOTEBOOK
SATURDAY NOTEBOOK - WORLD SERIES OF PRO MOD
STEVENS JR. CAPTURES $100,000 CHECK – Honestly, Carl Stevens Jr. flew under the radar when it came to talking about favorites to win the second annual Drag Race Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod event.
Yet, shortly before midnight on Aug. 11, Stevens Jr. was the one standing – and more importantly holding the $100,000 winner-take all check.
“I don’t even have any emotions right now,” Stevens said. “It has not sunk in yet. I have to think ‘wow is this really for real?’ It is great to be here and super pumped. That $100,000 is a lot of money. I’m super excited about it. This is easily the highlight of my career no doubt about it, no questions asked.”
In the finals against Danny Rowe, Stevens clocked a 5.886-second lap to out run Rowe’s 5.946-second run.
“He did get me on the tree,” Stevens said. “He went in quick and I was still waiting for boost mentally and I thought I had to get going. It’s just nice to have that horsepower and run him down and get that win. We tried to just be consistent (all day) and not beat ourselves and put good runs together. We didn’t want to shake, and spin. We just wanted to run our own race and it played out.”
In addition to the huge jackpot, Stevens also received a championship belt, and he didn’t hesitate when asked where that was going.
“It’s going right here,” Stevens said pointing to his waist. “We’re absolutely going to comeback here next year. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. We definitely have to come back and try and defend and turn that $100,000 into $200,000.”
MENHOLT SURVIVES SCARY CRASH – When Billings, Mont., driver Derek Menholt pulled into Bandimere Speedway earlier this week it brought a smile to his face.
A year ago at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod event, Menholt won the $10,000 wildcard race Aug. 4 to get into the big show. He lost to eventual race winner Mike Bowman in the first round.
At this year's race, Menholt once again lost in round one to Bowman when he had a red-light start, but this defeat was a much scarier, wilder ride that Menholt was able to walk away from.
Menholt’s 1968 Camaro, which was in the left lane, took off from the starting line and immediately got loose at the eighth-mile and crashed into the left retaining wall. The Camaro bounced off the wall and then crossed the center line and hit the right retaining wall, just in front of the quarter-mile stripe, and smashed the passanger side. His Camaro rolled to a stop a couple hundred feet past the finish line.
“It broke a ring and pinion, so the motor just locked the rear-end up in the car,” Menholt said. “I didn’t realize I red lit otherwise I would not have been still trying to run that thing. It was starting to shake out there and it snapped the ring and pinion is what (Steve) Petty (his crew chief) came up with. It locked up and turned left on me.”
Menholt took a moment to talk about his accident off the walls.
“The second one is the one that hit the hardest,” he said. “The first one I was kind of up on two wheels and it was more of a ricochet, and it harder when it went into the right wall. I will be really sore (Sunday). My shoulder (hurts). I bent the steering wheel like crazy. I had a hold of it when it went in, so I think my arms and shoulders are going to hurt the most. I believe it did (total) the car. They will have to look it over, but there are a lot of bent bars.”
Menholt was happy he was uninjured.
“I’m glad that they build these cars and have all the safety equipment they have in them for a reason,” he said. “The head pads and the leg pads, everything they put in those cars is for a reason. I believe they build a car to keep you safe.”
The thing that bothered Menholt the most was he felt like he let a grand opportunity he let slip through his grasp to win $100,000.
“From everything we know, we were the fastest car here (Friday),” Menholt said. “We ran a 5(86) at 251 (mph), so I think we would have been tough to beat. It’s part of the thing, that parts break and cars crash. Luckily, we do have an insurance policy on it, so we will be back. I will be back next year. Of all the events we go to as a driver in the Pro Mod class this is the only event where you are the show. If you go to an NHRA national event, you’re still a Sportsman class at that point, so it is nice to be treated as the top of the field.”
As a result of the wreck, Menholt’s time table to race again changed.
“Our goal now is to be out here a year from now,” Menholt said. “It will be tough to have a car ready before then. We might consider going the pro charger route next season now that’s mostly legal in NHRA for 2019. We will see how things work out."
CHAMP KNOCKED OUT – Mike Bowman won the inaugural World Series of Pro Mod event and took home the $100,000 check last August.
Bowman extended his round winning streak as he beat Derek Menholt and Jeremy Ray. Unfortunately for Bowman his streak ended when he lost to Carl Stevens Jr. in the third round. Stevens clocked a 5.880-second lap to beat Bowman’s 5.912-second lap.
“What a great race,” Bowman said. “Carl said he saw me coming and I thought I was going to catch him. We lost by a couple three thousandths. We thought we were going to go an 87 on that run and I think the 2-3 clutch pack is going away because it flared up to 10,000 on the shift. Coulda, woulda, shouda what do you do? It was an awesome race.”
Bowman acknowledged he will leave Bandimere with his head held high.
“I feel pretty good about the weekend,” he said. “We went really fast and the other guys went a little bit faster. This was just as much fun as last year. It is a great time and will be back to try and do it again. What a group of guys here. I have the biggest respect for everyone of these guys came and took a shot at this. The way everybody was running I’m impressed. Next year will be even better. It was really important not only for me to make it here, but to run well and we accomplished that. Now, we will move on to Indy and see if I can win a Wally (at NHRA’s U.S. Nationals).”
FAST JACKSON STILL CAN’T CONQUEROR THE MOUNTAIN – Stevie “Fast” Jackson won the $5,000 burnout contest Friday night at the World Series of Pro Mod event. He then won two rounds of racing Saturday, but he couldn’t advance past round three as he was beaten by Danny Rowe.
Rowe clocked a 5.983-second run to edge Jackson, who came in at 6.070 seconds.
“It sucked,” said the fan-favorite Jackson. “I respect those guys a lot. We have raced them in NHRA. I think Danny has kicked my butt every time we have run. We went up there with it loaded up and I had a good light. The run before that we tore up a set of tires and we had to put on the burnout tires (from Friday night) and it spun a little bit through the middle and shook and we just didn’t have enough. They made an awesome run. A 5.98 for a blower car is a killer run. Racing at this level you have to push it as hard as it will go and not push too hard and we pushed it a little too hard and they got the win.”
Although Jackson didn’t win the $100,000 first-place check, it wasn’t a lost weekend.
“We had a blast up here,” Jackson said. “I hate it for the fans who came all the way out here to watch us race that we didn’t do better and win, but that’s racing. Drag racing is an awesome sport because not everybody gets a trophy. There is one guy who gets a trophy. We learned a tremendous amount about our program this weekend. This was invaluable data. I’m looking forward to getting to Indy in three weeks.”
NHRA CHAMPIONSHIP CREW CHIEF WATCHES ACTION – There is very little NHRA world championship tuner Lee Beard hasn’t accomplished or seen in the sport of drag racing.
Beard, however, had a first Saturday when he came to his first Pro Mod race – the World Series of Pro Mod event – at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., near Denver.
“I heard they were having a race here that paid a lot of money and I thought I would come see what these guys do,” Beard said. “To be honest with you, this is my first time being to a Pro Mod race.”
Beard, who retired from drag racing in 2017, now lives in Silverthorne, Colo., which is a one hour from Bandimere Speedway.
“What I think is cool about it is that there are so many different packages they can run,” Beard said. “You have your supercharged cars, you have turbocharged cars, you have your nitrous cars, a lot of different packages. The fact that they run heads up and all run pretty close. It seems pretty interesting to me.”
Beard, however, has no plans of returning to drag racing.
“My destination company is Twist Fly Fishing Adventures,” Beard said. “Basically, what I do is I book clients in with the best guides and top resorts. I love retirement.”
Beard tuned the late Gary Ormsby to an NHRA Top Fuel title in 1989.
In 1992, Beard won a world championship as team manager of Larry Minor Motorsports when Cruz Pedregon captured the nitro Funny Car title. He also was the team manager at Don Schumacher Racing when Tony Schumacher was the Top Fuel champ in 2009.
During his decorated career, Beard amassed 55 NHRA national event wins with 12 different drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car. Beard is Crew Chief in the NHRA to win national events in Top Fuel and Funny Car with 12 different drivers. Six of those were first-time winners.
Beard's first NHRA national event win as a crew chief came in 1980 when he guided Jerry Ruth to the Top Fuel title at the Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
Beard actually has won national events with 14 different drivers in his career. Beard's last two wins came in 2016 and 2017 as he guided Larry Dixon and Dom Lagana to wins in Australia while working for Santo Rapisarda.
JIM WHITELEY THRILLED TO BE PART OF WORLD SERIES OF PRO MOD – Jim Whiteley, an NHRA world championship driver, is thrilled to be part of the World Series of Pro Mod event for the second-consecutive year.
“Bandimere (Speedway) is my favorite track,” Whiteley said. “I’m so excited that they are bringing this series over here. I have raced here many, many years and this is home. You get a group of good cars to come down here and put a show on, it is top of the line, you don’t get much better than that.
Denver is the best place for this. We don’t run in this type of altitude. The parity is very good, and this is my home track and a lot of these people know and I can’t think of a better place to do it. It’s exciting and the crowd really gets into it.”
Whiteley lives in Grand Junction, Colo., which is around 3½ hours from Bandimere, and he has plenty of laps at this Speedway. Whiteley owns and operates J&A Service.
Whiteley acknowledged he enjoys the format – no elapsed times or mph shown.
“I love it,” he said. “Whoever you’re with, you don’t know where you are at other than if you get to the finish line first. Until you get lined up in eliminations you don’t know what is going to happen. This is awesome.”
Whiteley defeated Todd Tutterow in the first round but was upended by Stevie “Fast” Jackson in the second round. Jackson came in 5.984 seconds at 234.73 mph to muscle past Whiteley’s 6.041-second run.
Racing is truly a family affair for the Whiteleys. Jim races as does his son, Steven who is competing in this event. The Whiteley’s day ended in the second round as Steven lost to Danny Rowe. Steven was runner-up at this event a year ago.
Jim Whiteley won NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster world championships in 2011-12.
Annie Whiteley, Jim’s wife, drives a Top Alcohol Funny Car and son, Cory Reed, pilots a Pro Stock Motorcycle. Both drive in the NHRA ranks.
“This is very rewarding,” Jim said. “All the hard work the guys do with J & A we are able to do this, and I have the best seat in the house because I have kids doing it. They are very successful with it and it is a program we have put together and we have good people and it is very rewarding to see how this all happens.”
Despite his success in the alcohol ranks, Jim was drawn to Pro Mod.
“I’ve always been a door car guy,” he said. “I come up through the Pro and Super Pro and I just loved door racing. I had an opportunity to run the alcohol dragster and that was able to start there, and we had some success and I was done there and it was time to move on to this (Pro Mod).”
ENDERS ENJOYS COMPETING IN WORLD SERIES OF PRO MOD – Erica Enders has proven her talent at the NHRA Pro Stock level, winning world championships in 2014-15.
This weekend she walked out of her comfort zone to compete in the World Series of Pro Mod for the first time in her career.
“This is a lot of fun for a change,” Enders said. “It was an honor to be invited and I’m really proud of Wes (Buck) for his vision, execution and for putting this all together. It is a really good time. I’ve enjoyed it. It is more laid back than the stuff I’m used to, which is a welcome invite for me. I’m excited to be here.
We made a really good run (Aug. 10) and that gave us some optimism heading into (Aug. 11, race day). It is going to be a whole bunch of different conditions, obviously in the heat this first (round).”
Enders squared off against Clint Satterfield in round one and captured the win. She clocked a 6.076-second pass at 242.80 mph to muscle past Satterfield’s 6.115-second lap.
“He is another turbo car, so at least I will get a little bot of a break as far as staging goes up there because I know the blower guys like to mess with the turbo guys a little. I’m optimistic about (Saturday) and thankful for the opportunity and just excited.”
In the second round, Enders left on Carl Stevens Jr. in her turbo-charged Camaro, but Stevens drove around just at the finish line.
Stevens clocked a 5.897-second run at 246.66 mph to edge Enders’ 5.922 second run at 243.99 mph.
Enders said she will run this car, her 2018 Chevy Camaro, in NHRA’s Pro Mod class at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis (Aug. 29-Sept. 3). So, I run Pro Stock and Pro Mod at Indy. We plan on finishing the NHRA (Pro Mod) season with this car also, but you know how things change, so we will see.”
FIRST-TIME, SOLID TIME – There are plenty of newcomers to the second annual Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod event. One of those drivers is Jeremy Ray, who pilots a 1963 Corvette.
On Friday, Ray’s Corvette looked strong in testing and he’s happy to be at the event.
“This is not bad,” Ray said. “It is different conditions and you have to adapt to it and make it work. I’ve never competed in a race like this with $100,000 winner-takes-all prize. Wes (Buck) invited me to come and I told him I would be here, and I did what I said I was going to do.”
Ray, who is based in South Carolina, did take a moment to think about what he would do with $100,000.
“It would mean my racing budget for next year,” Ray said. “That’s what I’m after.”
Ray did win first round against Scott Oksas, but Ray handed Mike Bowman the second-round win when he had a redlight start.
Not only was Ray making his inaugural appearance at the World Series of Pro Mod, he was making his first laps at Bandimere Speedway.
“The farthest I had been before this week was Topeka, Kan.,” Ray said. “This (Bandimere Speedway) is a nice facility. It’s different to race up here (in the altitude), but everybody is dealing with the same conditions. The biggest adjustment here is trying to get the engine to work. The tuneability of the engine is totally different here.”
Ray normally competes in NHRA’s Pro Mod Series.
“If they invited me back I would come for sure (to the World Series of Pro Mod event),” Ray said. “I’ve learned a lot since I have been here and I would have some data for next time and we should be better.”
CARUSO HAS EARLY EXIT – Marc Caruso had high hopes coming into Saturday’s World Series of Pro Mod race, but his day ended early. He lost in the first round to Carl Stevens.
Prior to eliminations Saturday, Caruso participated in the $5,000 burnout contest one he thought he won, but the title went to Stevie “Fast” Jackson.
“Yeah it’s kind of interesting because, it was kind of weird,” Caruso said. “We were coming down the return road, we were the last ones, even though we were the second to the last ones to do the burnout. Todd (Tutterow) had kind of got around us. Drove his car back. I had to wait for mine to come back and tow me back. So all the action was at the front where the first few guys were. But when we came up we had a pretty good crowd response and it was like before the crowd was even done they had turned around and handed Stevie the trophy. So that was kind of odd. Then Drag Illustrated came over and told me that we won the People’s Choice Award which I thought that’s whose choice it was.”
Caruso wasn’t the only person who thought he was the burnout champ.
“Funny story. The minute that they walked away from us and went right back to Stevie, Wes Buck’s dad actually came over to me and said that he felt bad and he handed me $500,” Caruso said. “I gave it back to him. I wouldn’t take it. Everybody between social media and everybody here is telling us we won hands down. And P.S., we backed up and made probably one of the fastest runs if not the fastest run of the evening.”
Caruso said he actually could have done more with his burnout but it wasn’t part of the plan.
“I probably could have went a little further with the burnout but I wanted to get back and make the run,” Caruso said. “That’s what we’re here for. We’re here to lay down a number and know that we can go A to B and do it five times in a row and win the war. I felt confident enough that Lee White gave us a tune-up that was going to lay down a number and Darryl, when I backed up, he felt the blower. He gave Lee the thumbs up. Lee told me on the radio “send it”. I’d be hard pressed to believe that anybody beat the numbers that we put on that ticket last night.”
Now, Caruso has the long trip home back to Rochester, N.Y., to think about an opportunity lost.
“We’re out of Rochester, NY. My father, Joe (aka Papa Joe) started racing when he was a teenager and I kind of grew up going to the races with him,” Marc said. We race PDRA. This is our third season with the PDRA. Prior to getting into Pro Boost with the PDRA, I was Top Sportsman, Top Dragster racer in the NHRA. My father owned pro mods when I was growing up with another guy that was one of his best friends that was a driver. They pretty much ran PMRA, that was the series back up our way. And now my daughter, Camrie (20-years-old), runs Top Dragster in the PDRA. She is currently No. 2 in the points championship. She started out in junior dragsters when she was nine. When she turned 16 she went down to Frank Hawley’s and got her Super Comp license and advanced ET license.”
Despite his tough luck loss in first round, Caruso plans to return to this event in 2019.
“Absolutely. This has been one of the most fun races I’ve ever been to,” Caruso said. “The facility is unbelievable. Even beyond the backdrop. I’ve never been to Colorado in my life, this is my first time. I’ve been out to Arizona, California, Texas. Never been to Colorado so this was a first for all of us. My entire family, this was a first for us to come out here.
The staff here just roll out the red carpet. Wes has been extremely accommodating, the media, everybody. To me this is what it’s all about and unfortunately NHRA has kind of gotten away from what this is. Last night, the burnout contest, bringing the guys up in front, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about having fun. The fun has kind of come out of it on some of the series. The PDRA is nice, it’s family-oriented too. This is an amazing race. I’m beyond humbled that Wes thought of us to bring us out here because we’re eighth-mile racing guys.”
LEARNING EXPERIENCE – Justin Jones, all of 19 years old, was taking on the heaving hitters in the World Series of Pro Mod race in his 1969 Camaro.
Jones lost in the first round to Steven Whitely. Whiteley clocked a 6.005 second run to defeat Jones who slowed to 6.995 seconds.
Getting to this point in his career was a journey for Jones.
“I’ll tell you the short long story. My dad (Jeff Jones) and I about three years ago we got into alcohol Funny Car racing, and Randy Anderson was our first crew chief,” Jones said. “We were with him for a couple years. We did really well in alcohol Funny Car. Won a couple races. But a couple of years later we were having trouble going faster so we talked to Brandon (Pesz) about coming over and being our crew chief.
He’s always been in Pro Mod racing, but he was willing to take on the challenge of the Funny Car. So, we did that for about a year. Tried to switch it over to an automatic. Then we got into the Pro Mod with Brandon and we just fell in love with it. So, my dad went and bought this car, the one that I drive. He was like “hey do you want to drive a Pro Mod?” And I said. ‘I’d love to.’ So I kind of jumped in head first. Never been in anything besides Camaros, street car kind of stuff.”
Now, Jones is a work in progress in the Pro Mod ranks.
“Man, I’ve never even lined up against a competitor on a track before until I got into my Pro Mod,” Jones said. “This is my first season full-time. The first time in the car was December 2017 so not even a year ago. We got into the Midwest Pro Mod Series with Keith Haney and we run that mostly. We were going to run NHRA legal Pro Mod at the end of the year this year, but we did better than expected in the Midwest. We’re in the top five in points so we’re going to try and finish out the season there and then maybe run a couple of NHRA races next year and eventually go full NHRA. Wes called us because he’s friends with Brandon and was like ‘hey I’d love to have you all in Denver for the World Series of Pro Mod.’ We took the challenge and switched everything over.”
Jones thoroughly enjoyed the experience of competing at Thunder Mountain.
“Oh, I loved it,” Jones said. “It’s unreal. Especially, switching from eighth-mile to quarter-mile. The extra 3 seconds on top, you’re sitting there ‘man this takes forever to get down through there.’ It’s funny. My first quarter-mile pass in my car this weekend, I told Brandon ‘hell, I had my hand up on the chute at 330’. It took forever to get down through there.’ But it’s has been a blessing. I was fortunate, and I had a blast out here.”
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK - WORLD SERIES OF PRO MOD
BURNOUT CONTEST WINNER – This year at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod event instead of having a wildcard race – which paid $10,000 to the winner last year – a burnout contest was held Friday.
And the winner was Stevie “Fast” Jackson. For his thrilling burnout, Jackson collected the $5,000 first-place check.
“This is awesome,” said Jackson. “This is just as good as the race. The reason it is so awesome because all of them people are excited about coming to watch drag racing (Friday night). It (the burnout) was crazy. It was over the track. I was steering it with the throttle, pumping the brakes, chutes, it was fun. The burnout is the most fun thing I do out here, so it was good.”
During the burnout, Jackson acknowledged his car did experience some problems.
“The thing went out there and shut off,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if it blew up or not, but it would not start.”
Marc Caruso placed second in the burnout contest. Clint Satterfield, Brandon Pesz, and Todd Tutterow were the other participants in the burnout contest.
FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS – Saturday is the big day for all the racers in the World Series of Pro Mod.
Here are the first-round pairings:
Michael Biehle vs. Jeffrey Barker; Chad Green vs. Rick Hord; Steve Matusek vs. Rick DiStefano; Marc Caruso vs. Carl Stevens Jr.; Erica Enders vs. Clint Satterfield; Mike Bowman vs. Derek Menholt; Jeremy Ray vs. Scott Oksas.
The other side of the ladder is as follows:
Harry Hruska vs. Tommy Johanns; Brandon Pesz vs. Aaron Glasser; Steven Whiteley vs. Justin Jones; Danny Rowe vs. Shane Molinari; Jim Whiteley vs. Todd Tutterow; Stevie “Fast” Jackson vs. Robert Costa.
First-round eliminations are set to begin at 5:30 p.m. (MT) Saturday at Bandimere Speedway.
BOWMAN BACK TO DEFEND HIS CROWN – A year ago, Mike Bowman wasn’t even sure he was going to compete in the World Series of Pro Mod.
Bowman did decide to compete and the decision paid dividends.
Bowman won the event and the $100,000 payout in the winner-take-all event.
“I came back for another $100,000, hopefully,” Bowman said. “ (Winning last year) was nothing but amazing. To be the first one to do it and they’ll never be a first again so that sticks with me big time. It’s been a pretty awesome year. You open a magazine and there’s the car. It’s just really cool. It’s amazing.”
This year Bowman is back driving his 1969 Chevelle. But it does have a different look, namely the paint job.
“It’s the same car,” Bowman said. “We crashed at the Four-Wide (in Charlotte, N.C. earlier this season). We hit the wall. Four-link bracket, we don’t know, something broke. It smoked the tires, went sideways and clipped the wall. It destroyed the body. So, it has an entire new body. (Jerry) Bickel fixed the car. He actually had a body in stock because Sidnei Frigo was going to have a Chevelle built…this is a ’69, same body as last year.
We didn’t have time for that (to paint it like last year). We were literally thrashing at Bickel’s shop last week in Missouri. There were literally six to seven guys working on it at one time. Jerry Bickel’s guys are awesome. Car went straight down the race track, first hit, BANG.”
Not surprisingly, Bowman believes his memorable run last year at Bandimere will benefit him this weekend.
“It helps a ton,” he said. “The combinations, it’s basically the same combination. We kind of know where we need to be on the converter, where we need to be on the rear-end, transmission and the whole combination. The guys who haven’t been here, it’s tough. Going 5.90 (seconds) here is like going 5.70 somewhere else. It’s really that big of a deal. Even myself, I was going to try a different converter when I got here. I put it on the trans brake to make boost and it wouldn’t make boost. Reality of that is pull the transmission out right now and put in there what we know works. That’s what we did for this year.
Last year I hit it just right. Call it luck, call it whatever you want but out of the combination I put in it, it just hit, right off the bat, 5.97 last year. This year, we’re just as good if not a little bit better.”
As cool as it was winning $100,000 Bowman said that money has been spent.
“Obviously, that’s not hard to do on one of these,” Bowman said. “It’s a great help to the whole organization, the program. More spare parts and stuff. I held onto it for awhile but at the end of the year I had to get rid of it.”
With the race looming Saturday, Bowman isn’t ready to give up his crown.
“Yeah, I’m the king. Someone’s going to try to knock me off,” Bowman said. “It’s going to be really tough. I don’t come here thinking I’m going to beat everybody up because every one of these cars is a good car. They’re all good competitors. They’re all really fast. I think it’s going to be lost or won on the on the Christmas tree, on the starting line. Whoever does their job on the starting line, go down the racetrack every time, that’s who’s going to win this race. That’s basically what happened last year. I just got down the track better than everybody else. Same plan here. Be consistent. Go down the racetrack every time. If I can do that, I feel like I can win the race.”
MOLINARI HAS UNFINISHED BUSINESS – A year ago, Shane Molinari had his eyes set on winning the inaugural World Series of Pro Mod event. He almost accomplished the feat, losing in the semifinals to eventual race winner Mike Bowman.
Now, Molinari has returned to finish the job in his 1968 Firebird.
“I need to keep going a couple more rounds (this year),” Molinari said. “Last year helped us have a clue of what to start with this year here. This (race) is cool. They should have like three or four of these a year. That would be bad a**. I want to get that ($100,000) check baby.”
The driver from Battle Ground, Wash., is upbeat about the way his car is running.
“My car is looking pretty good, we will see what happens,” Molinari said. “Hopefully we have a good show.”
ERICA ENDERS MIXING IT UP AT WORLD SERIES OF PRO MOD – One of the star attractions for this weekend’s event is a driver with limited Pro Mod racing experience.
However, Erica Enders is no stranger to race fans. She won NHRA’s Pro Stock champion in 2014-15. Enders is still a championship contender in Pro Stock, but during an off weekend on the NHRA circuit Enders, for the first time, is competing in the World Series of Pro Mod event. She is piloting a 2018 Camaro.
“As I’ve said before, this is a huge honor to be a part of. I can’t thank Wes (Buck) and his team enough, “ Enders said. “Not just for the invite but his vision, execution and passion to making Drag Racing great!
It’s our first time running this Rick Jones-built turbo car up on the mountain and that comes with many challenges. We have been directionally correct in our progress, but we still have work to do. Having said that, we should be ready for raceday on Saturday.”
Enders has enjoyed the challenge of competing in this unique event.
“These cars are different animals to drive and it’s been fun to step out of my comfort zone,” she said. “For me, that is one of the many factors that go into making this race so exciting and such a success.
BIEHLE READY TO CONQUEROR THUNDER MOUNTAIN – Last year, Michael Biehle had a decent performance at the World Series of Pro Mod before losing in the second round to eventual race champ Mike Bowman.
Biehle is back at Bandimere Speedway and excited for the weekend.
“The $100,000 absolutely is what brings me back,” said Biehle, who is running a 1967 Mustang. “This is the most fun race I have been to so far. I’ve been to a lot of different races and this is a good time.”
The winner-take-all jackpot isn’t the only reason Biehle gravitates to this event.
“This track is awesome, the guys who run it make this is a phenomenal facility,” Biehle said. “This brings a whole new challenge as far as what we do as far as coming up here on the mountain and trying to get it to go down the track. It is a totally different challenge that what we are used to compared to running NHRA and other series. It’s cool. It’s fun and it’s a great atmosphere and there a lot of good guys here racing.
Racing here last year helped out quite a bit. Some of the combination we ran last year is a little bit different and we had some more hurdles to jump over with that, but we had a heads up on what this thing was going to take.”
Biehle has been competing in Pro Mod class since 2013 and he says it is a class he enjoys.
“It’s like wrestling a bull down through there,” Biehl said. “They are fun, exciting and you never really know what they are going to do, and they are fast. I really like the class.
GLASER MAKES WORLD SERIES OF PRO MOD DEBUT – Competing and winning the second annual Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod winner takes all $100,000 race is a feat into itself.
During the test runs Friday no elapsed times or mph were shown on the scoreboard at the end of the quarter-mile. Actually, no ETs or mphs will be shown until the final round Saturday.
Aaron Glaser also has to add the fact that this is his time competing in the Pro Mod class at Bandimere Speedway near Denver.
However, the Louisville, Ky., resident is ready for the challenge while piloting his 1969 Camaro.
“The money and prestige bring me here,” Glasser said. “It was a last-minute deal for us. Wes (Buck) called me last week and I was on vacation with the family in Alabama and he asked if I wanted to come. He said people want nitrous cars up here so here we are.”
Glaser acknowledged getting ready for this event wasn’t easy.
“We did a mad thrash, changing everything on the car, gear ratios, you name it, trying to get everything right on the motor to make it run up here,” Glaser said. “This is a big, cool event and I just wanted to be part of it. I’m just glad (tuner) Billy Albert is here to help me. When we got invited, the first thing I did was call him. We sat and did a lot of math to figure out gear ratios for everything, trying to figure out the EFI map. Everybody says nitrous cars can’t run up here (at Bandimere), so I guess everybody is afraid to come play up here and it is all a guessing game.”
Glaser said the only other time he was at Bandimere Speedway was when he competed in the NHRA Junior Dragster Nationals in the mid-late 1990s.
“I competed here in 1996 or 1997 in Junior Dragsters and it was a cool track then and it still looks great and we wanted to be part of this,” Glaser said. “We did some testing (Aug. 8) here (at Bandimere) and I was very happy with the test runs Wednesday. The test runs (Friday) are real important to get everything figured out. I have never had this motor and this combo in this car for the quarter-mile. It’s going to be exciting.”
Glaser’s second test run Friday night didn’t end well for him. He blew up parts and pieces on his car as he neared the end of the quarter-mile.
MENHOLT LOOKS TO ADD TO SUCCESS – When Billings, Mont., driver Derek Menholt pulled into Bandimere Speedway earlier this week it brought a smile to his face.
A year ago at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod event, Menholt won the $10,000 wildcard race Aug. 4 to get into the big show. He lost to eventual race winner Mike Bowman in the first round.
“We changed (to a) new Hemi program this year basically because of this race,” Menholt said. “Our plan is to race this and maybe make two NHRA races. Last year here (at Bandimere) was the first Pro Mod race we ever entered. We are looking forward to this year and we think that we have a car that can compete with everybody.”
Menholt’s team bought the engine program out of Troy Coughlin’s car when he retired last year. Menholt is piloting a 1968 Camaro.
“We went and tested earlier this year in Orlando (Fla.) in February, and we haven’t run a race yet this year,” Menholt said. “We had three days of testing here (at Bandimere) and it went really well. We have high expectations for this weekend.”
DANNY ROWE READY FOR ROUND TWO – A year ago, veteran racer Danny Rowe came to the World Series of Pro Mod race with high hopes.
Unfortunately for Rowe, his hopes were dashed when he was beaten in the first round by Eric Latino. Rowe is back in Denver this weekend, looking for redemption.
“Very excited to be here. It’s an amazing race and a great facility,” Rowe said. “We really like the people here at Bandimere. We’re excited.”
Unlike some drivers, Rowe isn’t putting much stock in last year’s race.
“I really don’t know if it did or it didn’t (help),” Rowe said. “We know that the cars will run. We have an idea of where we need to be at. Everybody has picked up a lot this year, so all the cars are a little bit quicker. We picked up a little bit, but you really don’t know how to judge it until you get out there.”
The format of not displaying times or mph on the top-end scoreboard is something that Rowe favors.
“Tt makes it exciting for everyone and everybody’s back is against the wall and you have to manage it, so I think it puts everybody in a different light,” Rowe said. “It’s going to be interesting tonight once we draw all the names, figure out where we’re going to stand, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. It’s going to be fun.”
KING TUT TOUR STOPS AT BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY – Todd Tutterow has won more races than most drivers have ever entered.
The veteran driver from North Carolina will try and add another line to his ever-impressive resume when he competes in the World Series of Pro Mod race Saturday.
“I know the Bandimere’s and the guys who own this place,” Tutterow said. “I know the Traction Twins and their daddy very, very well. It works out good. It’s just a good opportunity. Beautiful racetrack here.”
Friday was the first time Tutterow made laps at Bandimere Speedway.
“A lot,” said Tutterow of the challenge that the high-altitude presents. “We’ve run Vegas. It’s the only other place I’ve run with high altitude. We actually ran really good there. So, I feel like we have a good chance here. With no times shown on the board it’s hard to tell what everybody is doing.”
Tutterow would love to walk away Saturday with that $100,000 check.
“It’s big. I’ve run for big money before but this is twice as much as I’ve ever run for. I’ve run for $50,000 and won $50,000,” Tutterow said. “Yeah, it’s different. I think it’s good for the sport. Wes Buck’s done a really good job with this deal.”
HOME COOKIN’ – Tommy Johanns, who lives in nearby Franktown, Colo., is back again at the World Series of Pro Mod race.
A year ago, he lost in the first round when his Corvette was unable to leave the starting line and thus he lost to Steven Whiteley. The problem was a broken reverser in the transmission.
Johanns is hoping for a different outcome in 2018.
“It didn’t go well last year,” Johanns said. “This year I got an invitation from Wes Buck to come back and I have a chance for redemption to see if we can make something good happen this year.”
Johanns also has his eyes on the $100,000 check given to the race winner.
“That type of money goes a long way in fixing these things,” Johanns said. “We’ve had a Pro Mod car probably for 10 years. We ran Outlaw previous to this and when Wes invited us we changed the car to legal and made it a legal Pro Mod do we can back to run this again. We’re are used to the altitude (5,814 feet) here compared to others. We hope we have a little bit of an edge because of that.”