The First Installment

Now you really didn’t think I was going to just disappear did you? During my 10-year stint as the President of IHRA I wrote 271 Last Word columns for Drag Review Magazine. They were a mix of opinions, observations and story telling that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with drag racing. I wrote about everything including such highly controversial drag racing subjects as dogs, stupid things people say and why Americans are fat. They were written in a stream of conscious manner usually around 11 p.m. and aided by what ever Parkinson’s drug I was on with a side of Captain Morgan’s. Most of the time I started the process with a prayer. It went, “Lord please forgive me for what I am about to write.”  When I left IHRA I thought I had penned my last column. Then I got an email from Jeff Burk.

Jeff asked me if I would like to continue to write for DRO.  I was flattered but I had to remind myself this was the same Jeff Burk that I had plenty of “words” with in the past. Truth be known, over the past few years we have become good friends so now I was intrigued. The ability to throw open the closet doors without being politically correct was attractive. The freedom to talk about the real business of drag racing as opposed to the crap spewed forth on various forums was a plus.

The only negative was {also in Burk fashion) that he wanted me to do it out of the kindness of my heart. I believe lawyers call it Pro Bono (Free). Since I have all the Bono I can handle I decided to let my agent, Allie the Wonder Dane handle the negotiations. Jeff caved in at the sight of 140-pound dog with incisors longer than most lawyers. I now have a multi-year deal with compensation in the Aaron Rogers/Peyton Manning level. Jeff’s only request was to keep the personal defamation lawsuits to no more than two.  So let the fun begin and, Lord, please forgive me for what I am about to write.


Watching the world of Pro Modified being played out in social media outlets will probably go down as the most destructive phase any drag racing class has ever been through. It was highly entertaining but I honestly don’t know how it can survive. Bridges have not been burned. They have been nuked from orbit. The trust factor is near zero. And there is one undeniable fact. It is almost impossible to make money with Pro Modified if you are the promoter/sanctioning body. The tracks wanted the events because they pretty much had a guaranteed payday with little risk. The only current solution is to follow the “Pay to Play” structure and overall that can’t sustain because at some point the growing expenses will dampen the racers (payee’s) interest. 

So how do we know how a Pro Modified (ADRL) event did financially? For one thing we know what things cost so to create a line item expense budget was easy. The income part was also pretty easy. At several events per year we would send a team to count cars in the parking lot since parking fees were the only source of front gate income. We also had a pretty good grip on food and merch per caps, so putting together an accurate financial picture was right in our wheelhouse. 

Why go to all this work? Because I wanted to steal the idea. I thought it was brilliant. As it turned out there was too much if-come and not enough income to take the risk. Once we were armed with a reasonable financial blueprint it was obvious that what happened over the last few years was very predictable. Unless you had a financial partner whose father ran a country, it wasn’t going to happen.

So what is the answer? I don’t know but I think it may be time to THINK BIG. When ADRL was in its early stages I invited Tommy Lipar and Dave Woods to my home for a business lunch meeting. My premise was instead of competing against each other for the American Pro Modified business we should combine forces and take Pro Modified global. The Pro Mod was already the pro class of note in Europe, Australia and Canada. If we could create a global footprint and a unification of rules we might be able to attract a TV and sponsorship package that could sustain itself for decades.

It was a big idea but in the end none of us had the team in place to test the viability. On a side note both Tommy and Dave were quality guys and should be thanked for taking Pro Modified as far as they did. Did I kill off Pro Mods in IHRA? I did. And although no one wants to hear it, the simple reason is I couldn’t sell enough tickets to justify it. And it appears I wasn’t the Lone Ranger.


‘You can lead a man to education but you can’t make him think.”

“What happened to global warming? My globes are frozen.” -- Racer at Dragway 42’s annual January 1st Hangover Nationals. It was 20 degrees and snowing.