NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Variety is the spice of life for Alex Laughlin

Alex Laughlin is up to drive just about anything and he's pulling double-duty this weekend in Pro Stock and the E3 Pro Mod series.
15 Mar 2019
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Race coverage

Alex Laughlin lives his life by a simple code; if it has wheels, he will drive it. The 2019 season is barely three months old and Laughlin has already raced, and won, with a shifter cart on the high banks of Daytona Int’l Speedway. He also won $50,000 in cash behind the wheel of his supercharged radial tire Corvette at the Lights Out X event in Georgia. He’s also competed in the first two NHRA events in his Havoline-backed Pro Stock car, and this weekend, he’ll make his debut in the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod series along with Elite teammates Erica Enders and Steve Matusek.

“It will be a busy weekend for sure, but I like it that way,” said Laughlin. “I’m sure people remember in 2017 I raced in Pro Stock and Top Alcohol Dragster and that was a lot of fun. That deal was interesting, but it worked for me because both cars were so much different. One was a dragster with an open cockpit and the other was a Pro Stock car with doors. There wasn’t much of a chance to get the two confused.”

Confusion is entirely possible in Laughlin’s current set-up that includes a pair of Chevy Camaros from the Elite Motorsports stable that look alike from the outside, but are very different underneath. Laughlin’s Pro Stock car is fairly straightforward with a traditional clutch and five-speed manual gearbox. Laughlin’s new turbocharged Pro Mod Camaro used an automatic transmission and it launched with a trans-brake via a button mounted on the steering wheel. Of course, there is also a significant performance difference. The Pro Stock car runs 6.5s at over 213-mph while Laughlin has already run a best of 5.73 at over 257 in the Pro Mod car.

“I really have to think about which car I’m in,” Laughlin said. “It’s smart to take a deep breath, think about what I’m doing, and make sure I have the right routine in place. The Pro Mod car and the Pro Stock car, and even my radial car are all so different. In the [supercharged] radial car I leave at idle and with the Pro Stock car I leave with the throttle to the floor. I actually made a mistake at Lights Out. I had one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the parachute lever just in case something unexpected happened. Then the shift light came on and I realized I wasn’t in high gear yet. Oops. That’s one of those things you have to work on.”

Laughlin admits that racing two cars in Gainesville could be a detriment but he’s willing to make that sacrifice in order to have two chances to win on race day. His plans this year are to race in all 18 Pro Stock races and the 12 events in the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod series. Surprisingly, Laughlin admits that if he could win just one championship, he’d favor the Pro Mod car.

“Don’t get me wrong; I love Pro Stock and we’re very serious about winning but I’m really stoked about the Pro Mod car right now,” he said. “I made a great lap in Pro Stock in Q1 and I’m in the top half of the field so now I need to step up in Pro Mod. I’ve made about seven runs to the finish line so I’m still getting used to it. At 257-mph, things happen fast. It’s going to take a little getting used to.”