MARK SAVAGE LEADS HYDE TO VICTORY
Mark Savage has tasted sweet victory at Drag IllustrateD ’ s big-money Pro Mod races before . He was a crew member on Khalid alBalooshi ’ s Brad Personett-tuned Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro when he won the $ 50,000 Pro Mod field at the 2021 World Doorslammer Nationals at Orlando Speed World Dragway .
At the 2023 World Series of Pro Mod , Savage had three chances to return to the winner ’ s circle , as he was helping Personett oversee alBalooshi ’ s ’ 17 Camaro and Bahrain 1 Racing teammate Justin Bond ’ s screw-blown ’ 68 Camaro . He was also tuning Spencer Hyde ’ s ’ 69 Camaro .
AlBalooshi wasn ’ t able to crack into the 32-car field , and Bond was out in the first round , so Savage was free to focus on Hyde ’ s efforts , which started when Hyde won the first round as the very first pair on Sunday morning .
“ I told Spencer , ‘ I don ’ t know if you believe in this stuff , but we ’ ve got some good juju going for us right now ,’” Savage said as he looked back on that momentous day . “ We have good juju and we have hard work on our side . We snuck in by a thou , we struggled all week with car issues , converter issues , engine issues , then at the chip draw , we got drawn first . I ’ ve always told him , if I ever ran a Top Fuel car , I would always be first pair out because you get to be up there with the national anthem . I got goosebumps just talking about it right now .”
Hyde ’ s first-round win wasn ’ t pretty , but it got him through to the next round . That ’ s where things really started to fall into place .
“ After second round , that ’ s when I knew ,” Savage said . “ There ’ s days where you can ’ t do any wrong . Brandon Switzer came up to me and said , ‘ You know you ’ re going to win this , right ?’ I was like , ‘ Yeah , I think so .’ After that , it was racing with confidence .”
Savage , who was on the inaugural DI 30 Under 30 list in 2015 , wasn ’ t surprised each time the win light illuminated in Hyde ’ s lane . He ’ s worked with Hyde , a 2021 30 Under 30 honoree , for the last few seasons , and he ’ s seen the former Jr . Dragster develop sharp skills behind the wheel .
“ I told Spencer before round one , I would stack you up against anybody on this list ,” Savage said . “ He got to show his capability and how good of a driver he is and kind of highlighted that . It was pretty neat .”
Savage realizes that the odds weren ’ t exactly in Hyde ’ s favor as the No . 32 qualifier . He didn ’ t
SAVAGE LEANED ON HIS YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WITH BLOWN ALCOHOL ENGINES TO TUNE HYDE TO PROGRESSIVELY QUICKER PASSES ON HIS WAY TO VICTORY .
have the quickest car of any round – except the final round – but it was right there every time , and Hyde did the rest on the starting line .
“ Our goal all week was just to be there and make it a drag race ,” Savage said . “ When you have Steve Petty , Jamie Miller , Todd Tutterow , or any of these guys in the other lane , you can ’ t go out and outrun them by two or three hundredths . You ’ ve gotta go out there and race your race and let the cards fall where they fall .
“ If we would ’ ve lost any of those races , it would ’ ve sucked , but we just would ’ ve come up on the wrong end of a good drag race ,” Savage continued . “ We just happened to come up on the right end of all good drag races . It just shows that you win as a team and lose as a team . We just happened to win as a team at that event .”
More than a month after the race , Savage was still thrilled with the team ’ s performance , but also with the overall impact of the event .
“ Man , it was so much fun . I had so much fun . Obviously , winning helps that , but even if we would ’ ve lost , it was so cool ,” Savage said . “ It was great for the sport , for everything , for Bradenton , especially with all these tracks getting sold out to developers , and watching Victor [ Alvarez ] and Cleetus [ McFarland ] and everybody fight for that track , and Victor putting money into it to invest in its future . For somebody who does this for a living , it ’ s refreshing to see track owners and promoters care about it as much as the racers do .”
May / June 2023 DragIllustrated . com | Drag Illustrated | 101