When it comes to Pro Stock racing, Chris McGaha is part of an increasingly-rare breed of individuals who can not only drive, but also builds his own engines, and makes the race-day tuning calls on his Harlow Sammons Camaro. McGaha also helps run his family’s machining business, which means his time is especially valuable. Given those factors, it’s no wonder that McGaha and his father, Lester, are very much in favor of the reduced 18-race schedule for Pro Stock that was implemented this season. With a three-week break between the most recent Pro Stock race in Chicago and this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, McGaha has found the time to devote to other projects, although extracting more horsepower from his 500-cid engine program hasn’t necessarily been one of them.
“It’s nice to have those breaks but I’ve been working on stuff for our oilfield business more than anything,” Said McGaha. “I should have spent more time doing motor stuff, but it doesn’t always work that way. We need to take care of our family business first. I have done some [engine development] but just not enough.”
So, that begs the question, Is McGaha more competitive now, after six events, than if he’d been competing in the first 11 races of the 2019 season? So far, he’s been to the quarterfinals four times and enters the Norwalk race as the tenth-ranked driver in the class. McGaha’s issues begin in qualifying where the Harlow Sammons Camaro has not been ranked higher than eighth. That often leads to a round two race against one of the top qualifiers. To that end, McGaha has lost to points leader Bo Butner three times, including the Las Vegas Four-Wide.
“We have been off a tick, no doubt about that,” said McGaha. “I’m not sure if I can say we’d be better off running every race but I do miss the track time. We haven’t had a chance to try some of the things I’d normally want to try. Of course that works both ways; when you’re struggling, the last thing you want to do is go to the next race and struggle again but sometimes you have to. That’s the way to get your program straightened out. The bottom line is that I like the 18-race schedule. I can race like this.”
McGaha’s spare time has also been occupied preparing for the future. He’s currently readying a new Jerry Haas-built Camaro for his 17-year old son, Mason, to drive. Mason is expected to make his debut in Comp Eliminator later this season with an eye towards Pro Stock, perhaps as early as 2020.
“I had hoped to have Mason’s car done in April or May but we got a little behind with it,” McGaha said. “We’re putting a V6 in it so he can get some seat time in Comp. So far, he’s driven our COPO Camaro and he did pretty well. He went right from a Jr. Dragster to a COPO and that was a pretty big step, but he handled it well. We even had an issue with the air shifter so he had to shift it himself, and that didn’t throw him off. Would we run two Pro Stock cars in the near future? Possibly, but we’ll see how it goes. The big issue is finding enough help to run two cars. Mason has a couple of friends who go with us and if they want to step up and help us run the car, that would be a big help.”