After qualifying seventh for an eight-car field, J.R. Carr still made his participation in the first-ever, official NHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock (MMPS) race forever memorable by reaching the final round and leaving Houston Raceway Apr. 14, with the quickest and fastest MMPS pass of all time.
Carr ran 6.36-seconds lap over the Houston quarter mile at 219.29 mph in qualifying, but dramatically upped his performance to 6.233 at 227.80 mph in the opening round of racing against Chris Powers. Proving it was no fluke and backing up the official NHRA class records within the required one percent, he ran just two thousandths slower at 227.04 to defeat Scott Benham in the semi-finals.
“It wasn’t picture perfect as far as on the computer, but I knew it was on a run,” the Washington state-based commercial farmer said of his record-setting ride. “We ran after the fuel cars and it was getting warmer out, and there was some bald spots and stuff in the tracks, so we actually took a little bit out just to go A to B; that was the most important.
“Anyway, it just felt really good. From half-track on, I could feel it was on a run and I could hear that it was on a run. I was very excited at the other end, to say the least.”
That set up the first official NHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock final against a very consistent John DeFlorian, who qualified first overall with a 6.24, then ran 6.25 and made his own 6.23 pass in the semis, though not quite quick enough to steal lane choice away from Carr.
Unfortunately for Carr, when the tree came down he left .011 too soon, negating another solid 6.24 effort at 226.73 mph. Meanwhile, DeFlorian struck the tires and stumbled to a 10-second date with history as the first official NHRA MMPS event winner.
“Yeah, I struggled with the tree this weekend,” Carr freely admitted. “Instead of focusing on the tree I was focusing on the car, shift points and that, but you’ve gotta’ do both. My fault. Being late is one thing, but when you beat yourself with the red light, that is kinda’ tough to take. But I can’t complain too much; there were way more positives than negatives for the weekend and that’s the most important part.”
Beyond running quick and fast, Carr said he enjoys the challenge of competing in the naturally aspirated Mountain Motor cars. After driving a traditional 500-cubic-inch NHRA Pro Stock entry for three years in the early 2000s, he stepped away from the track for several seasons before entering MMPS for the first time late in 2008. His current car is a Jerry Haas-built 2018 Camaro powered by an 825 c.i. Hemi-headed monster from Sonny’s Race Engines with a five-speed Lenco backing it all up. M&K Sport Coach and Maxima Racing Oil provide some sponsorship help and Frank “The Flying Meatball” Gugliotta calls the tune-up.
“That 24-race NHRA schedule, that was just tough. I’ve always had a lot on my plate with business, family and racing, and I just felt like I wasn’t really doing anything right. So I stepped away and when I got back into it with the Mountain Motor deal I just fell in love with it,” Carr recalled.
“The cars are just … they’re beasts. In some ways I think they’re kind of like the Pro Mod cars back in the day, because they’re so unpredictable. Even on a good run they’re still right on the edge. So they’re fun to drive, a lot of power. Honestly, they’re harder to drive than a regular NHRA Pro Stock. Well, some people say they are, some people say they’re not, but I welcome anybody to get in one and tell me it’s not a handful. If you over drive them, they’re gonna’ drive you. It’s a real fine line, but I love it.”
Carr confirmed he’ll be at each of the three remaining MMPS appearances on the 2019 NHRA national-event schedule, starting with the Four-Wide Nationals Apr. 26-28, in Charlotte, NC; then June 14-16, at Bristol, TN; and July 5-7, at Epping, NH.
“We’re signed up and very excited. It’s a great opportunity to showcase our class. The fan reaction and the media attention that we received in Houston was just phenomenal, way more than I would have ever expected,” he said.
“And it’s good for the fans, too. It gives them something else to watch, something new to learn about it, something new to support and get excited about. All those things. So it’s been good for everybody; good for the manufacturers; good for NHRA; good for us. Everybody wins.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019