The 65th Annual U.S. Nationals lived up to the hype as the biggest drag race on the planet, and in addition to the usual fare of racing action, Pro Mod fans and competitors got their first glimpse of cars utilizing a centrifugal blower in 1/4-mile trim. Not only was this historic, but it places the combination on step closer to inclusion in NHRA Pro Mod racing.
Kevin Rivenbark, John Strickland, and Clint Hairston each brought their ProCharger-boosted Camaros to the U.S. Nationals to participate in the exhibition program. The teams only had a handful of test passes under their belts before they rolled through the gates at Lucas Oil Raceway, but they were more than ready to hammer-down on the sport’s biggest stage.
This wasn’t Rivenbark’s first time running a Pro Modified car the full 1320-feet, so there weren’t any surprises for him. Overall, he says he enjoyed the experience with his Pro Line Racing-powered Camaro and believes it went well.
“It was wonderful, and about what I expected. My first 1/4-mile Pro Mod race was at Lucas Oil Raceway back in 2013; this was John’s first 1/4-mile experience. It was a great feeling to do all of this at this race, and it seemed like a very positive thing for ProCharger to be the first to debut this combination and prove they can compete in NHRA Pro Mod.”
With a limited time to test in 1/4-mile trim before the event, Rivenbark, Strickland, and Hairston had their work cut out for them. Hairston had never sat in or even seen his Elite Motorsports-prepared Camaro before the event and struggled to put power down the track. Strickland shook the tires on his earlier runs but later carded the best elapsed time of the three cars with a 5.88. Rivenbark made it down the track but had electronics issues that prevented him from laying down representative numbers.
“ProCharger was happy overall, but we don’t have enough runs yet on this combination on an NHRA-prepared track to see what it can do. We made some passes at Darlington, but we need more runs on an NHRA-style track to get a handle on things. The NHRA prep is just different and you can’t replicate it. I feel that if we get to go to zMAX or another event we can show what the ProCharger combination is capable of and that it has the potential to be competitive,” Rivenbark says.
The big question is, will the NHRA let the centrifugal blowers in Pro Mod? At this time there is still no official word on the status of the power adder for 2020 and beyond, but Rivenbark is optimistic they will be approved.
“We haven’t heard anything yet but I feel good about it. I think it will come down to crafting a set of rules that make it fair for everyone. It has to be kept in check; it’s hard enough with three combinations, but four will make it crazy. Fans love controversy and another power adder will add to that for fans. We gave them [NHRA] all of our testing data and all of our runs at Indy for them to look at. They need some more solid runs so they can see if there needs to be weight or overdrive changes. The biggest thing is figuring out the weight and overdrive so the combination will be competitive but not murder the whole field.”
Like it or not there is a strong case for the centrifugal blowers in the NHRA. With the RPM (Real Pro Mod) organization relinquishing control of the class to the NHRA, there’s no better time than now to make them a part of the show.