The elite-level import machines of today are a far cry from those that competed in the Pro Import divisions 15 and 20 years ago, when racers struggled to keep the parts and pieces confined to the engine block and rarely could string two quality runs together in a row. Through an influx of technology, tuning prowess, money, and good old fashioned trial and error, the top teams around the world have produced certifiable world-class racing machinery capable of competing head-to-head with the quickest and fastest legal Pro Modified cars in existence. And do it repeatedly, as well.
In all, nine different cars from a host of countries have broken the five-second barrier with Toyota’s venerable 2JZ engine or an aftermarket variant of such, with the record standing at a 5.753 and a speed of over 252 mph. Compare that alongside the standing NHRA national record of 5.751 and you can quickly see how well these cars match up. And so, it begs the question of whether it’s finally time the NHRA writes the imports into the rulebook for arguably the most popular eliminator in its lineup.
The PDRA has long made it possible for import-powered machines to compete in its categories, and Bahrain’s EKanoo Racing took them up on that invitation last season when they traversed overseas to compete at the series’ Michigan event in the Pro Boost class; rather successfully, we should add. With the NHRA Pro Mod class limited to 90-degree V8 engines at present, there isn’t a place for them in any capacity in the NHRA Pro Mod Series.
While the American-made, loud-and-proud crowd would insist otherwise, I would argue that it’s the kind of on-track and in-the-stands rivalry — you know, “those damn Toyota’s couldn’t ever beat a Hemi!” — that provide the spark of interest and a layer of intrigue that every racing series is in need of these days. Consider, too, the drama should a team from Bahrain and another from Puerto Rico come in and line up against America’s favorite good ‘ol boy Pro Modified competitors on their own turf. Remember, just because you don’t like them, doesn’t meant they can’t provide some good for drag racing.
What do ya’ say: let the little engines play in the NHRA sandbox, or keep them where they’re at, quietly in their own corner showing the world how to do more with less than any drag racing machines on the planet?