When the insanely-popular Pro Modified category came to the NHRA in the early 2000’s showmanship was every bit as important to the race teams as the competition itself. Unique themed paint schemes, colorful drivers and crew, zany happenings on the race track were all a part of it, but in the years that followed, an influx of technology and the money that drives it have taken the “show” largely out of the equation. But one team has their sights set on the NHRA’s quickest and fastest doorslammer class with a mission to change that.
The New Smyrna Beach, Florida-based father and son team of Ron and Jerico Balduf have been competing in and around their home state with a second-gen Corvette powered by a blown big block Chevy in recent years, but have gone all-in with a brand new chassis and engine combination that has the potential to make them instant players in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
Car owner Ron and son and driver, Jerico, commissioned Tim Christ and his team at Coast Chassis Design in Edgewater, Florida, to construct them a state-of-the-art new chassis. As Christ told us, the Balduf’s wanted to do something different, and while a 1941 Willys isn’t anything new by any stretch, it’s become much less common of a body style — albeit still quite popular with the fans — in this day and age of performance and winning trumping all else.
“The Corvette was an older car they had bought used, and it had the ‘Batman’ theme going on. They decided it was time to step up and build a real Pro Modified car. That’s where it all started, and where the ‘Batman’ theme comes from — they wanted to bring it over from the other car.”
The CCD team constructed a car that comes in well under the NHRA’s mandated minimum weight, employing a full carbon fiber interior and a titanium firewall found in many of today’s elite doorslammers.
The power comes courtesy of a Brad Anderson Hemi that’s topped with a set of Ken Veney-prepped cylinder heads and a Mike Janis supercharger, all assembled by Janis and his team at Jan-Cen Racing Engines in New York. The blown bullet is backed up by a LencoDrive and a three-speed Lenco transmission.
Prior to its trip through the paint, the Balduf’s debuted it at the Orlando World Street Nationals in November with their previous engine combination and later tested with Janis and Christ in attendance with the new engine combo.
The paint shop took to the car using a basic rendering for inspiration, adding unique touches along the way, along with some highly impressive airbrush works to complete the designs on the decklid, the grille, and in the Gotham-themed design along the sides.
“The photos just don’t do this car justice — you have to see it in person. It’s all done in pearl colors and just came out really, really nice,” said Christ.
Jerico has already been in the 4.0’s at 187 MPH in the eighth-mile on what Christ tells us was a relatively mild initial tune-up. Testing is expected to continue next week in Bradenton, where Janis and a host of other teams will be turning laps before the season debut for the Pro Mods in Gainesville. The Balduf’s, currently without the grade points necessary to gain entry at the national events, are looking to the NMCA’s Pro Street class or Competition Eliminator at NHRA Division 2 races to satisfy the criteria.
Photos courtesy Coast Chassis Design