In the wake of highly-dimished participation numbers in the category, the Professional Drag Racers Association made the difficult announcement on Thursday that it will cease conducting the Pro Extreme eliminator for the remainder of the 2018 season and potentially beyond.
Once among the sport’s most popular and vibrant classes, Pro Extreme has seen its car-counts dwindle year over year, and despite the PDRA reiterating its commitment to the category earlier in the season, counts of merely two or three cars at each of the season’s first four events left the series and the racers with few options going forward.
Stated the PDRA in a prepared statement: This season the PDRA has worked diligently to revive the Pro Extreme category, which has, in recent years, been losing racer support. The PDRA secured new sponsors and programs designed to ensure the class’ longevity with the series. Unfortunately, racer support continued to wane. A small handful of racers remained faithful to the class, but the lack of strong competition was evident.
“The competition is not there,” began PDRA’s Bob Harris. “While the racers appreciated the PDRA paying the full payout for races for only a few Pro Extreme cars, they expressed they would rather enjoy strong competition than just show up for easy money. Our Pro Extreme racers have begun looking at other options.”
“A few weeks ago we stated we would support the class all year,” Harris continued. “Since then we have talked to the racers that have been involved in the class this year and racers that we thought may come on board and we realize that continuing the class would have little benefit for the series or our racers.
While the racers appreciated the PDRA paying the full payout for races for only a few Pro Extreme cars, they expressed they would rather enjoy strong competition than just show up for easy money. Our Pro Extreme racers have begun looking at other options. – Bob Harris, PDRA
“Our motto of being ‘by racers for racers’ has never come into question. We want to support our racers and do what’s best for them. We believe that this is the wisest decision based on our feedback from the racers. We gave it a one hundred percent effort to rally the class and get more racer support involved, but that’s just not going to be the case. We had plenty of sponsorship this season and those sponsors have all expressed they are going to continue supporting the PDRA and its racers.”
Pro Extreme, conceived by Kenny Nowling in the original iteration of the American Drag Racing League in the mid-2000s, was for a time the largest Pro Modified-style category in the sport, routinely drawing upwards of 30 to 35 cars at many events. In the years that followed, many of those competitors have moved to other venues or left the sport entirely, leaving the quickest and fastest doorslammer category in the world a shell of its former self. In 2017, just 24 cars competed in at least one event during the season, down from 34 in 2016, 39 in 2015, and 40 in the PDRA’s inaugural season in 2014. This year, just four cars have entered an event, illustrating the dramatic drop-off in participation.
“This class arrived 10 years ago. We realize that since that time Pro Mod has greatly diversified. It’s clear the current trends are supporting a more streamlined version of Pro Mod, which is why our Pro Boost category has been so popular and continues to gain strength. Although the incredible speeds and outlaw nature of Pro Extreme and screw blowers have great appeal, it’s a unique niche in Pro Mod that has, at least for a time, run its course. It was good while it lasted over the years and, who knows, it could come back some day.”
Longtime Pro Extreme stalwarts Terry Leggett and Jason Scruggs both plan to move to a roots-style blower to run in Pro Boost. Adam Flamholc has not decided on a new venue for his Corvette as of yet.