race reports

NHRA Pro Mods at Houston

Whiteley breaks through to win

Words by Kay Burk

Photos by Ron Lewis

Jim Whiteley (far lane) took the Pro Mod win over Rick Hord at Houston.


Jim Whiteley drove to victory on Sunday, April 22, during the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service portion of the NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by Tige Boats, is the second of 12 Pro Mod events this season.

Danny Rowe qualified with a 5.831/250.74.

While Sidnei Frigo’s 5.837/251.20 missed the field.


With 28 entries in the class, it was a fight just to make the 16-car field. Only .006 separated the No. 16 qualifier, Danny Rowe, from Sidnei Frigo, who was on the outside looking in at No. 17.

Jose Gonzalez secured the No. 1 qualifying position with his Friday pass of 5.69 seconds at 257.78 mph. It was his first career No. 1 qualifier in just his second NHRA event.


“Stevie Fast” Jackson qualified second with a 5.707/249.03 and Mike Castellana was third at 5.720/252.71.


Several racers had problems with tire shake and those who could manage it had the advantage.

Erica Enders was driving a Pro Mod Camaro in addition to her regular Pro Stock duties (where there were only 16 entrants). She didn’t make the 16-car Pro Mod field.

Erica’s husband, Richie Stevens, didn’t make the field either.

In fact, many drivers didn’t make the Houston field. In addition to Frigo, Enders and Stevens, the others having to watch the action were: Chip King, Steve Matusek, Pete Farber, Dan Stevenson, Chuck Little, Doug Winters, Clint Satterfield, Harry Hruska, and Brandon Snider.

Michael Biehle, driving the only Mustang in the field, lost in the first round with a 5.834/250.74 to Jackson’s 5.723/248.71.

Rick Hord from Belle Isle, FL, drove a Hemi-powered, fuel-injected 2016 C7 Corvette in only his second NHRA Pro Mod event. In his second-round win over Mike Janis, Hord set the track speed record at 258.02 mph.


Whiteley ran a 5.834-second pass at 239.14 mph in his J&A Services 1969 Yenko Camaro to take down Hord (5.818/252.43) in the final round and earn his first victory since Houston 2016 and the second of his career.


He defeated Castellana (shook the tires), Khalid AlBalooshi (broke) and Jackson (5.777/246.98 to 5.759/248.98) on his way to the win.

Mike Castellana has AAP on his basic-black Camaro. So does Brandon Snider, who didn’t make the field.

While Mike Janis has a very colorful wrap that is hard to miss. Janis knocked out Jim Whiteley’s son Steven in the first round, but then lost to Hord.

Khalid al Balooshi is one of the Pro Mod drivers sporting the colors of the country of Bahrain.

“Stevie Fast” Jackson (near lane) and multi-time champion Rickie Smith also have that sponsor. Both won their first-round matches, but Smith’s car went into tire shake and Jackson took the second-round win.


“This is very special,” Whiteley stated. “We’ve tested and worked our butt off here the last two months. We’ve definitely got a hot rod here. Beating Stevie was just icing on the cake today.”


Hord had taken wins over Chad Green (5.749/254.62 to 6.057/245.85), Mike Janis (5.742/258.02 to 5.785/248.39), and Bob Rahaim (5.776/255.29 to 5.915/218.27) to get to the final.

Whiteley finished the 2017 season 15th in the points standings and leaves the event in the No. 2 spot in pursuit of his first championship.




1. Rickie Smith, 168; 2. Jim Whiteley, 163; 3. Mike Janis, 149; 4. Steve Jackson, 134; 5. Mike Castellana, 114; 6. Bob Rahaim, 103; 7. Chad Green, 102; 8. Rick Hord, 97; 9. Khalid alBalooshi, 86; 10. Todd Tutterow, 85.  



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