Drag Illustrated Issue 171, September / October 2021 | Page 83


Pierce has established himself as a standout tuner in the Pro Mod and doorslammer ranks . Like every class , tuning a Pro Mod takes a special set of skills , especially if it ’ s working with a firsttime or new driver . The explosive and aggressive nature of a Pro Mod is immediately taken into consideration , with Pierce noting the importance of slowly easing a driver into the massive power of Pro Mod . He ’ s done that to near-perfection with Joey Oksas and the results have been incredible in a short time .
First off , out of all the rookie drivers I ’ ve worked with , when it comes raw natural talent , he ’ s by far one of the best I ’ ve ever had . It ’ s been rather impressive . I ’ ve worked with some veteran drivers not from Pro Mod who raced in drag radial or Pro Stock , and in the beginning stages of Pro Mod , the process is still the same . The biggest thing for any of them is you ’ ve got to give them smooth , consistent race cars . It ’ s better to take them and give them something smooth and doesn ’ t shake the tires . They can learn about what you can drive and what you can ’ t , but first off you have to build that comfort level and confidence in the car .
They can become a better driver when you give them something they ’ re comfortable in . You put someone in a Pro Mod and it can be an intimidating car to drive .
With Joey , we started off very soft and we had to make sure he could drive the thing straight .
When he got put in , we got told two hours before we got to the track , so we were going through the car and resetting everything . Nothing in the car was the same , but we let him do a burnout and a 60-foot launch . We made a couple adjustments and then it was just a building confidence thing . The first full pass was in the 3.90s and it
September / October 2021 was a fairly soft pass , but every race we tried to make progression . You learn more about the car with him in and within 2-3 races , I was pretty comfortable with him in it . He can tell me when something doesn ’ t feel right . His ears are always open and he wasn ’ t scared to ask questions .
There are times where new drivers are feeling something and think it might be a problem and I have to show them it ’ s normal . Other times , we did find something . Some drivers have a good knack and feel for these things and it ’ s good to have that communication and talk about it with them . The biggest thing I ’ ll look for is consistency and calmness in the race car . You can tell if a driver is calm or not based on burnout and how he does the staging process . Usually right then , you get a good feel for how they ’ ll be as a driver . With a new driver , I ’ ll talk as softly as I can and
“ There are times where new drivers are feeling something and think it might be a problem and I have to show them it ’ s normal .”
try to be calm . If I can keep them calm , they have more success . If you have new drivers that are open and want you to tell them if they ’ re doing something wrong , it ’ s an enjoyable experience . If you take a rookie team and the first time they go a 3.90 , which is nothing in Pro Mod these days , he ’ s over the moon because he ’ s never been 3.90 . They ’ re thrilled and then they can ’ t wait to drive again .
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