Drag Illustrated Issue 182, May / June 2023 | Page 108


Multi-time world champion John Montecalvo makes history with Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational victory By Nate Van Wagnen
As a veteran of Mountain Motor Pro Stock , John Montecalvo has just about seen and done it all . He ’ s come close to retiring in recent years , but the announcement of the inaugural $ hameless Racing Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational presented by Seminole Paving during the World Series of Pro Mod reignited a spark in the Long Islander .
“ I have to say , we were more determined than ever ,” Montecalvo said of his outlook going into the MMPSI . “ I was focused on that race for three months . Once I got the invite , I thought about nothing but winning that race . That was my prime concern : winning that race .”
Montecalvo knew it would take more than willing it into existence to win , so he and his team went to work over the winter on the Kaase-powered Roy Hill ’ s Drag Racing School Mustang that he bought from Hill last season . He had sold his own Camaro in early March , then had Hill ’ s Mustang in his garage by March 19 . He raced the car a handful of times without much real success , so he knew things would need to change to have a chance at the MMPSI .
“ I never even expected to buy this car last year – to get involved with Roy and do this whole deal – but it came along ,” said Montecalvo , who ’ s won championships in IHRA , ADRL , and PDRA . “ We really never got a chance to go through the car and make it my car – my shifter and whatever else that I normally use . That was the focus over the winter , just going through all the odds and ends .
“ If I had to never win a race again , my focus was to win that race ,” Montecalvo added . “ In the past couple years there ’ s been a drought over here at JM Racing . We haven ’ t raced that much to begin with , and getting a different car and all that stuff set us back a little bit , but we were going full force for that race .”
Montecalvo , whose most recent world championship came in PDRA ’ s Extreme Pro Stock division in 2019 , started qualifying with a 4.151 before improving to a 4.138 and a 4.111 that ultimately put him No . 9 in the 16-car qualified field after four sessions . But like Pro Mod and all the other heads-up classes at WSOPM , Mountain Motor Pro Stock also did a random chip draw to determine pairings , and Montecalvo ended up drawing his former crew chief , Tommy Lee , in the opening round .
Montecalvo was one of several drivers who had to pedal their way to a win in the opening round of eliminations . He beat Lee with a 5.091 at 145.61 before improving to a 4.124 at 173.38 in his second-round win over Richard Cowger ’ s 4.139 . In the semifinals , Montecalvo left on twotime and reigning PDRA Extreme Pro Stock world champion Johnny Pluchino and followed through with a 4.107 at 176.37 to beat Pluchino ’ s 4.147 and earn lane choice for the final round by just two thousandths of a second .
“ Taking out Johnny was a big deal ,” Montecalvo said . “ I had an . 018 light on that one , so I felt pretty good going into the final round .”
Another veteran of the class , Elijah Morton , had also raced his way to the final round by beating Scott Benham , Derrick Reese , and Dillon Voss . The race was almost over before it started , though , as Morton struggled to get his car started for the final .
“ He had to actually push-start the car , which I ’ m not sure is even legal or not , but Elijah ’ s our buddy and we wanted to race ,” Montecalvo said . “ Actually , if it was anybody , we would ’ ve said , ‘ Go ahead , push your car , do whatever you ’ ve gotta do . Let ’ s race .’ This is the final round here at the World Series at Pro Mod . The fans deserve to see two cars up there racing one another .”
With Morton ’ s car started , the two wily veterans rolled into the pre-stage beams for one
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