Next month, during the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex, the Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Pro Mod Series (MWPMS) will stage an unprecedented 16-car, eighth-mile exhibition race presented by Atomizer Racing Injectors as part of a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) national event.
“This is a dream come true for me. Everyone in drag racing knows the NHRA is the big show–period,” MWPMS owner and competitor Keith Haney states. “I want to personally thank NHRA, (Motorplex owner) Billy Meyer and (track general manager) Andy Carter for creating this tremendous opportunity for our racers.
“They can’t believe they get to be a part of the first-ever NHRA eighth-mile race, the first 16-car exhibition class field, the first-ever race featuring all Pro Mod engine combos running side by side, and most of all the chance to win the first-ever trophy for eighth-mile racing in NHRA history. Each of these Mid-West Series guys will go down in NHRA history–which alone is amazing–but whoever wins that trophy will really have lifelong bragging rights,” he continues.
In entering three NHRA national events with a nitrous-fed, Summit Racing-backed Camaro last year, Haney qualified for the official RPM Pro Mod field during the 2018 NHRA FallNationals, placing him among the few MWPMS racers with NHRA quarter-mile Pro Mod experience. Each of 20 invited MWPMS entrants will be familiar with the all-concrete Motorplex eighth mile, though, as the Tulsa-based series opened its 2019 schedule at the Motorplex in March and visited twice last year.
Knowing, however, that the RPM Pro Mod group would not be part of the 2019 mix at the FallNationals, Carter said he approached NHRA officials early this year with the suggestion of adding a local Pro Mod exhibition instead.
“Between the Mid-West Pro Mods, the NHRA Pro Mods last year, and a few local races we’ve held, we’ve really built up a strong Pro Mod fan base here. I was just thinking of something on a smaller scale, something with our local guys,” Carter says. “For us, it was really all about the opportunity to do something a little bit different than everybody else.
“Then a couple of months back I got to talking with Keith and NHRA asked me to put a plan together and we were all able to work out a deal. Honestly, I asked for way more than I thought I would get with the number of qualifying rounds and running the finals on Sunday and stuff like that, but they came back and said okay, let’s do it.”
Carter explains the planned schedule calls for completing two rounds of MWPMS qualifying on Thursday (Oct. 17), with an additional round of qualifying on each of the next two days, followed by two elimination rounds also on Saturday. The MWPMS semi-finals and final round will be contested on Sunday (Oct. 20), in front of the NHRA raceday crowd, with the standard MWPMS purse and a coveted NHRA trophy on the line.
“This is big, really big,” Haney stresses. “Everyone I’ve talked to about racing in this event is so excited. I mean, to race in front of what’s going to be a huge crowd and get that first eighth-mile trophy ever in the history of NHRA, how special would that be? You can bet I want to win it and me and my crew chief Brandon Switzer will be doing all we can to make that happen.
“But seriously, this is a dream event for most of our guys. There’s a good chance most of them will never see this stage again–unless we have it again–so right now it could easily be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I have to mention, too, that it’s a dream come true for our announcer, Al Tucci, to work an NHRA national event. Al and his unique style are known all around the world and I know he’s every bit as excited as I am to be a part of this amazing event.”
Speaking from his home near Chicago, Tucci confirms his eager anticipation.
“I can go down the list for 33 years and I’ve done every type of racing or night fire show, even announced some division racing many years ago, but not directly for NHRA. They just came to the track where I worked and I was on the mic with Bob Frey,” Tucci recalls. “So for this I’m just totally excited and ready to let it fly. It’s going to be so cool.”
Tucci also praises the Mid-West Pro Mod Series rules package that will put a variety of powerplants in front of NHRA fans. Nitrous cars such as Haney’s nitrous-breathing “Black Mamba” 2019 Camaro fresh out of Jerry Bickel’s chassis shop will be going up against cars outfitted with screw blowers, roots-type superchargers or turbo set-ups under the hood.
“I remember back in the late-’90s when IHRA was racing blowers versus nitrous and everyone was complaining, but I was saying, ‘Either separate them or figure out the rules so nobody’s walking away with it.’ It’s a race. It’s two guys in their cars, maybe a 10th of a second apart or whatever, but it’s got to be a race,” Tucci says.
“Other sanctioning bodies have separated the classes while the Mid-West Series has put everyone together, structured the rules so that if you love turbos, or blowers, or nitrous, or whatever, you get a chance to watch your favorite guys go at it.”
Support is strong from the sponsorship and marketing side, too, Haney says. “In addition to Atomizer Racing Injectors we also have Summit Racing on board and Stroud Safety and Jerry Bickel Race Cars so far.”
As a longtime MWPMS marketing partner, Atomizer Racing Injectors owner Jack French says it didn’t take much to convince him to also step up and support the series’ NHRA outing.
“The NHRA is a big deal. I mean, they started the whole drag racing thing, so for them to have this outlaw Pro Mod deal with the Mid-West Series for the first time ever is a big deal, too,” he insists. “Plus it’s at the Texas Motorplex, which is a great race track, so I think it’s important for us to step up and show the whole world we’re supportive because the exposure is good within NHRA and through the online and TV coverage and so forth. I just think it’s important to let everybody know that we’re behind any new growth that we can possibly be a part of.
“And I think the NHRA fans in Texas are going to just absolutely go crazy over the Mid-West Pro Mod Series,” French adds. “I’m also really impressed that Keith was even able to get NHRA on board with an eighth-mile race when they already have their own Pro Mod quarter-mile class going. That’s the most impressive accomplishment of this whole deal, in my opinion. That’s a tough sell, a tough venue to break into.”
For Haney, it confirms the last three years of building up the MWPMS has been a worthwhile pursuit on many fronts–with still more to come.
“This is the dream,” he repeats. “I mean it. It’s a dream for me and I hope it’s just a dream come true for all these great guys that I race for, with and against at every Mid-West Series event.
“And you know, if they don’t think I love them by now, they’ve got another thing coming. I want them to know I do this because I love racing and I love providing a place for all these great racers to race. They may not like my rules sometimes, or they may not like the series’ rules; heck, they may not even like me, but they’ve still got a great place to race for a good purse and safe racetracks. And at the end of the day, living the dream is what it’s all about for all of us.”
Fans interested in attending the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals can save $10 on adult tickets Friday-Sunday by purchasing online at TexasMotorplex.com and using promo code: MWPMS.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019