race reports

Pro Mods at NHRA Bristol, Tennessee


Turbo vs. Nitrous vs. Supercharged


Words by Jeff Burk

Photos by Ron Lewis and Chris Haverly

Jose Gonzalez gets the win over Bob Rahaim.


At the NHRA national event at Bristol, Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley” the supercharged Pro Mod teams led by Todd “King Tut” Tutterow dominated qualifying on the mountain track, taking the first four qualifying slots. But in drag racing -- especially NHRA Pro Mod racing -- it isn’t always the quickest and fastest car that wins and that was certainly the case at Bristol Dragway.

Number-one qualifier Tutterow went out in the first round at the hands of Ball Mountain, GA-based racer Jose Gonzalez. 


In an unexpected turbo vs nitrous final round Gonzalez went 5.848 seconds at 256.06 mph in his turbocharged Q80 Racing Camaro to knock off Bob Rahaim, who ran 5.914 at 238.72 in his nitrous-powered Camaro.


It is the second career win for Gonzalez, who qualified 16th before picking up round wins against No. 1 qualifier Todd Tutterow (supercharged), Brandon Snider (supercharged) and Erica Enders (turbocharged) to reach his fourth career final round.


"I honestly didn't think we were going to make it into the field and here we are in the winner's circle from the No. 16 spot," said Gonzalez, who moved to fourth in points. "This Q80 Racing team really works their butts off and they have given me this car I have complete trust in every time I go down the track. I knew if I could just get into the field I could make it happen and here we are."


Rahaim, who qualified 14th, reached his sixth career final round in the class with wins against defending world champion Mike Janis (supercharged), Khalid alBalooshi (supercharged) and Sidnei Frigo (supercharged).

Pro Mod legend Rickie Smith was driving a nitrous-injected Camaro to start the season, but went back to a turbocharged Mustang at Topeka and Bristol. He was one of the eight entries that didn’t qualify for the field at Bristol and seems to be still trying to figure out which car works best for him.


Erica Enders went from not qualifying by .001 to getting into the 16-car field to getting onto the program when in the final qualifying session for Pro Mod driver Marc Caruso who was qualified #12 made a 5.87/245 lap but had no ‘chutes past the finish line and crashed.


Caruso’s car was damaged too badly to be fixed and Enders, who was the first alternate, made the most of her opportunity the next day in Pro Mod, driving her turbocharged race car to the semifinals. She knocked off Chad Green and Mike Castellana before losing in a tight duel to eventual winner Jose Gonzalez, leaving Enders pleased with how the team took advantage on Sunday in their turbocharged Elite Motorsports Camaro.

Erica Enders


“The Caruso deal was extremely unfortunate and I hate that it happened,” Enders said. “But we did the best we could and had a good showing on Sunday. Chad is a good driver and we knew we had to be on our ‘A’ game. We got around him and that was pretty cool. Castellana is a giant in this class and we knew we had to be on our ‘A’ game again, and we got the job done. That was great to see.”


When the field was pared down to just four for the semi-finals there were two turbocharged cars, a supercharged car and a nitrous oxide-injected car. On one side of the ladder Jose Gonzalez crushed fellow turbocharger racer Erica Enders putting a holeshot on the racer who made holeshots famous and then driving away from her. Gonzalez had a .034 RT to Enders’ .045 then drove away with a 5.850/256.02 to Enders 5.906/256.21.

On the other side, nitrous standard bearer Rahaim in the right lane used a .061 RT combined with a 5.892 245.85 to drive around the supercharged entry of Sidnei Frigo, .054 6.810/146.86 shut off effort setting up the turbo vs nitrous final round. 

Stevie "Fast" Jackson maintains the points lead as the class moves into the second half of their schedule. 


Qualifying Order

1. Todd Tutterow, Yadkinville NC, '68 Camaro, 5.774 248.66 248.66 (1 RD)

2. Sidnei Frigo, Sao Paulo BZ, '69 Camaro, 5.788 255.97 257.04 (Semi)

3. Mike Janis, Lancaster NY, '69 Camaro, 5.800 247.52 247.52 (1 RD)

4. Mike Castellana, Muttontown NY, '17 Camaro, 5.806 248.61 248.61 (QF)

5. Chad Green, Midland TX, '19 Camaro, 5.808 245.05 245.05 (1 RD)

6. Khalid alBalooshi, Duxbury MA, '19 Camaro, 5.813 256.36 256.36 (QF)

7. Steve Jackson, Evans GA, '18 Camaro, 5.820 248.66 248.66 (QF)

8. Alex Laughlin, Bluff Dale TX, '18 Camaro, 5.827 255.77 255.77 (1 RD)

9. Brandon Snider, Atmore AL, '16 Corvette, 5.828 244.87 244.87 (QF)

10. Steve Matusek, Olathe KS, '13 Mustang, 5.831 256.50 257.53 (1 RD)

11. Michael Biehle, North Vernon IN, '67 Mustang, 5.834 253.47 253.47 (1 RD)

12. Marc Caruso, Fairport NY, '69 Camaro, 5.834 245.45 245.45 (Crashed)

13. Doug Winters, Pleasant Garden NC, '69 Chevelle, 5.846 236.59 247.70 (1 RD)

14. Bob Rahaim, Grosse Pointe MI, '18 Camaro, 5.850 244.21 245.36 (RU)

15. Eric Latino, Port Perry ON, '67 Camaro, 5.855 245.00 245.00 (1 RD)

16. Jose Gonzalez, Ball Ground GA, '17 Camaro, 5.858 256.94 256.94 (W)


------------ Not Qualified ------------

17. Erica Enders, Houston TX, '18 Camaro, 5.859 257.92 257.92 (Semi)


Low ET: Todd Tutterow 5.774 seconds

Top Speed: Erica Enders 257.92 MPH  

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