Longtime nitrous-oxide Pro Modified competitor Randy Weatherford will embark on a new chapter in his racing career next month at PDRA Drag Wars when he debuts not just a new car and engine combination, but steps into an entirely new eliminator from that which he’s been accustomed.
Weatherford, from Providence, North Carolina, has partnered with Pro Line Racing to assemble a new centrifugally-supercharged, Hemi-powered combination destined for the PDRA’s Pro Boost class. For Weatherford, it will mark a number of significant changes — all of them positive — and breathe new life into his racing endeavors.
“I just want to try something new,” Weatherford shares. “We’ve kind of hit a brick wall on the nitrous side — we’re limited on how much power we can make. There are only two engine builders out there really, and I just felt like we weren’t competitive anymore. I didn’t feel like we were getting the right stuff, and so I decided to go to Pro Line — I felt like there I could get the horsepower I’m looking for and could be competitive. There are some things going on, politics-wise, in the Pro Nitrous class that are governing the outcome of situations. But I can go to the Pro Boost class and not have those same concerns.”
The combination is centered on a 564 cubic-inch, raised-cam PLR Hemi, utilizing an AJPE billet block for a foundation. A gear-driven ProCharger F-3X-140 delivers the boost, while a FuelTech FT600 ECU serves as one half of the brains of the operation. The other half — for at least the remainder of the 2019 season and perhaps into the future— will come from world-renowned tuner and Pro Line consultant, Steve Petty. An M&M Turbo 400 and converter will transmit the proven 3.5-second-capable horsepower.
Weatherford, who maintains a busy lifestyle operating a construction firm that specializes in major projects for Fortune 500 businesses, purchased a low-mile 2017 Jerry Bickel Camaro and tasked Pro Line and its partners to deliver a turnkey program. And that they did; Kevin Mutters repainted the car in Weatherford’s traditional blue color scheme, and RK Racecraft and Homier Fabrication wired and plumbed it and prepared it for competition right out of the box. Together, the aforementioned parties have become the Amazon Prime of Pro Modified drag racing — but delivery might take a little more than two days.
Motivated by other factors, Weatherford was further enticed by what he saw in Pro Line’s in-house, ProCharger-boosted Camaro, which was later procured by Galot Motorsports and has gone on to achieve even greater success this season.
“That kind of drove me in that direction,” he shares. “I saw that Kevin Rivenbark [of Galot Motorsports] was running really well, and it looks like the maintenance is more affordable than a nitrous car. The tune-ability looks a little more simple, because you don’t have to worry about when you’re turning the nitrous kits on, how much timing to take out of it — on this thing you just put a timing curve in and you run it. The power is there. I think this combination is much easier to run, if I’m being honest. It’s reliable, it’s simple, and those guys at Pro Line are a top-notch organization that stand behind their product.”
“I think a lot of people are switching over to this combination because of its simplicity, he goes on to say. “It’s just like a blower car, only it’s connected directly to the crank. My eyes were caught by Kevin, watching him run up and down the track and not having any issues. The ProCharger is what really hooked me — I think that’s the future. The power is smooth, and it makes a ton of downforce off of the zoomie headers, which keeps the front end down.”
Weatherford, who throughout all of his years campaigning nitrous cars has likely replaced more pistons than Quaker has oats, is sure to enjoy more relaxation at the racetrack than he’s used to — a result of the proven longevity of the PLR/ProCharger combination.
“I’m probably gonna’ have to go on Weight Watchers, because if I’m not doing anything [at the track], I’m going to gain a bunch of weight,” he quips about the impending reduction in between-round maintenance.
Completed at its Ball Ground, Georgia facility, the Camaro was tested on the PLR/FuelTech hub dyno last week in preparation for delivery to Weatherford. With the tuning dialed in, Weatherford will take delivery in the coming days and will put it to the real-world test the middle of next week in Virginia. “Petty will be helping me on the car…he’s going to get my feet wet,” Randy notes. “Once he gets me up to speed with it, I’ll see how I do with it. But for now, since he’s already going to be at the racetrack with Kevin, it just makes sense.”
Another major shift in his program, which he has already dipped his toes into at the two most recent PDRA events with his nitrous car, will be the move to an automatic transmission. Weatherford has, in a venue increasingly populated by automatic transmissions and torque converters, remained true to nitrous racing’s roots with manually-shifted transmissions and a clutch. But that will all change for good with the ProCharger Hemi setup.
Weatherford was the No. 1 qualifier at the PDRA Summer Nationals in June, using an automatic, so he knows the potential.
“I’m looking for positive things out of this — I’m looking to get out there and run up front. It’s going to be easier on me, and more cost-effective. And it looks like it should be much simpler to run it,” he says.
The WS Construction team is committed to the PDRA series — citing the shorter event durations — but Randy notes he’ll see where other venues or events potentially fit into his role of overseeing his business and its more than 200 employees. He adds that he’s entertained maintaining possession of the nitrous car and potentially trying to enter two categories, but says, “I think once I get in this ProCharger car, the nitrous car is going out the door.”