Drag Illustrated Issue 182, May / June 2023 | Page 151

and expecting different results . Well , I feel we bucked the trend . We decided to do something different , and guess what ? We ’ re getting different results because of it .
We spoke with many of our drivers about the atmosphere at the WSOPM . What was it like for you ? What were the highlights of the race ?
It was an almost out-of-body experience for me . From the time I got to the track on Monday the week of the race and I rolled through the gates of Bradenton Motorsports Park around lunchtime , I saw how many rigs were already there – I have goosebumps now , and I had goosebumps then . I couldn ’ t believe that we were essentially a week before the race even started , and we had over 20 race teams on the property .
When you start to think about the logistics of that , this is one of the things that our whole sport suffers from being desensitized to , and the significance of it . I grew up in drag racing . I was in my mother ’ s womb at the dragstrip a week before I was born . This is all I ’ ve ever done , and how we respond to this adversity and how we respond to this massive delay in our schedule is really going to tell the tale of the whole race .
I was so proud of the way we reacted on Friday afternoon and started running cars . In the first round of racing , we ran 61 Pro Mods in an hour and 20 minutes – that is unheard of . I don ’ t know if anything like that has been or ever will be done again . Going back to being desensitized , even in this moment now , doing this interview , we ’ re talking about things that no one else has ever done . It ’ s easy to kind of gloss over the significance of it . Friday night with the music blaring and all these Rivals Night grudge races , a packed house , the electricity again in the air , this vibe – it was like being at a drag racing festival of sorts . I was looking around for Dom Toretto and Paul Walker . I thought we were on the set of a Fast and Furious movie . It just felt Hollywood – it really did feel like a movie .
The tension was high on Saturday , with people knowing they had two more shots to break into what would , what will , ultimately be the quickest 32-car Pro Mod field in the history of the world . this traditional one vs . 32 or two vs . 31 . We want an environment again where the No . 1 qualifier may well have to race the No . 2 qualifier in the first round , and that ’ s what adds to that level playing field because you could potentially get some of the top performing cars gone in the first round . You open the door for the mid-pack guys or those who barely squeaked in .
So Saturday night , when we sent out this text , my assumption was we would have our 32 racers and probably some of their wives and girlfriends and crew chiefs . I thought we would have a small crowd gather on the starting line for this chip draw . What we had were several hundred people piling into the staging lanes and starting line area of Bradenton Motorsports Park .
What will forever be a highlight of my life was having the opportunity to address that crowd and express my gratitude and my excitement about what we were doing and get everyone to take stock of what we had done as a group . I ’ ll never forget that moment for the rest of my life . Looking out at all those people , looking behind me and seeing my team and my kids and my wife


it ’ s all I ’ ve ever cared to do . It ’ s not lost on me the challenges of being away from your business for a week , being potentially away from your family for a week , and traveling across the country – across the world in some instances – to go do something like this . You start thinking about in this day and age , hotel rooms are routinely $ 200 a night . You start thinking about these teams buying hotel rooms and feeding and drinking their team for days upon end , and you think about over 20 race teams being on the property the Monday before the race ; I couldn ’ t believe what was happening as the days wore on and the pits continued to fill up .
Come Friday , 50 MPH straight-line winds . I ’ ll admit that my heart sank when I saw the forecast and I saw these wind advisories . I get to the track , and flags are blowing down , pop-up awnings are blowing away , and stuff is getting destroyed . I was quickly able to gather myself up and say , “ This is part of the story of the WSOPM and will be something , as tough as it is , to be delayed five or six hours .” People will talk about this , and
You could sense that people were spun out . I had a guy tell me , “ Hey , congratulations on creating the toughest working conditions for a crew chief in the history of drag racing ,” because these guys were feeling the pressure , and God , it made it exciting and fun . I think that those things are something you can ’ t manufacture . You can try and say all the right things , but it ’ s either going to happen , or it ’ s not . By the time it was all shaping up , Saturday night , I see the bump continue to drop . I see one guy get bumped out , and another guy bump in . When it was all said and done , we had the quickest and the tightest spread of Pro Modified cars in history – I ’ m talking nitrous cars , blower cars , turbo cars .
There was a moment on Saturday night when I didn ’ t even know how this happened . I did not anticipate the turnout . We notified our drivers on WhatsApp that we were going to draw for pairings on Saturday night , which is a part of the WSOPM . It ’ s part of the tradition that we find out who ’ s going to race who on Saturday night so that everybody gets to sleep on it . None of all being there , plus the gang at Bradenton , really felt like a “ we did it moment ,” and we hadn ’ t even run a round of eliminations yet .
If the whole deal would have burst into flames by daybreak , I would have been satisfied merely having that moment personally . That really stands out to me , and then the hub around all these chip draws and these matchups that were put together on Saturday night . I wanted to see the face of these drivers . I want to see their reactions , the emotion when they found out who they were going to get to dance with on Sunday afternoon . It was all of that and then some .
Race day was its own animal . Admittedly , I had some nerves on Sunday . You never know what the crowd will be like at any drag race on a Sunday . I think any promoter would acknowledge that Sundays are just tough . This is a God-fearing community for racers and race fans , plus it ’ s a family-oriented community . All of these tracks have their own personality and traits . BMP is known as a Saturday nighttime track . I was warned in advance that , historically ,
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