The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series has always featured a number of viable championship contenders, but with an impressive infusion of new talent, the list of title challengers possibly reads longer than it ever has.
The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series makes its second of 10 stops during the 2014 season at this weekend’s 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, where the competition is presented by J&A Service. Like the season opener in Gainesville, a massive field includes the biggest names in the Pro Mod racing scene.
Along with stalwarts like defending champion Rickie Smith, former champions Troy Coughlin and Von Smith, and Gainesville winner Mike Castellana, several recent newcomers such as Bill Glidden, Jason Hamstra, and Jim Laurita have helped make the 2014 NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series as competitive as it has ever been.
“We like the competition, and we like to be where all the best cars are,” Hamstra said. “It’s good to race against high-quality teams, and like the field at Gainesville showed, pretty much anybody is capable of winning. That shows the talent involved, and it’s a really neat deal.”
Hamstra competed in his first two NHRA Pro Mod events at the end of the 2013 season after achieving a large amount of Pro Mod success in other organizations. Driving a turbocharged Ford Mustang, Hamstra qualified fourth in Gainesville before falling in the first round to Coughlin.
“We’ve got a good program we put together, and I know we have a lot of potential left in the car,” Hamstra said. “We’re hoping to build on things and do even better in Houston. I know we’re capable of it.”
Saying Glidden comes from a successful drag racing family would be a vast understatement; his father Bob remains one of the most iconic figures in the sport, winning 10 NHRA Pro Stock championships and 85 races. Bill has had his own success, winning multiple championships in the Pro Mod ranks in other organizations and is excited about his debut season in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
“It’s going to be very exciting if I can have some success,” said Glidden, who failed to qualify in his nitrous-injected Mustang in Gainesville. “I’d like to get it where we can be competitive and win some rounds, but we have to get qualified first. But the Pro Mod field is so tight here, if you just qualify, you can do well. We’ve had a lot of technical gremlins with every engine we’ve put in my car for over a year now, but we’re hopefully optimistic for this weekend. With what we’re capable of running, we’re hopeful we can do well in Houston.”
Laurita and his nitrous-injected Chevy Camaro made their debut in NHRA Pro Mod a year ago, racing in the final three events of the 2013 season. The series made an immediate impression on him, and that has carried over to 2014 where nearly 30 cars will compete at Royal Purple Raceway.
“It was a great experience, and I knew this is what I wanted to do and where I wanted to race,” Laurita said. “The professionalism in this class is unbelievable, and I’ve really enjoyed it. There’s a lot of interest right now in the class, and it has attracted so many top racers who want to compete. I feel privileged to be able to race against these guys.”
Laurita carried success in the Pro Mod ranks over to the NHRA Pro Mod scene but remains blown away with the competition level in 2014. Danny Rowe and his supercharger-powered Camaro qualified No. 1 in Gainesville with a run of 5.858 at 249.49 mph, but the top-16 qualifiers were separated by just .011-second.
“The parity is just unbelievable,” Laurita said. “You look at the various combinations and it’s amazing how close we are all running together. The class is very balanced, and we’re really anxious to see how we’ll do in Houston.”
Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars with an extremely diverse collection of vehicles, including ’63 Corvettes, ’68 Camaros, ’67 Mustangs, and ’68 Firebirds, as well as late-model cars, the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast.
NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series sessions are scheduled for Friday, April 25, at 3:30 and 6 p.m. and Saturday, April 26, at 2 p.m. The first round of eliminations is set for Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and eliminations continue Sunday, April 27, at 12:15 p.m.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, log on to www.royalpurpleraceway.com or call Royal Purple Raceway at 281-383-RACE (7223). Tickets for children 13 and younger are free in reserved sections on the spectator side with paid adult tickets.