Story continues below this advertisement
In just a couple of weeks NHRA’s pro classes including Pro Stock should be in serious test mode for the traditional NHRA season opener at the Pomona Fairgrounds. Testing is always critical to the success of a new season but for NHRA’s Pro Stock contingent it will more important that at any time in the past.
The NHRA Pro Stock class is struggling for market share with the fans and recognizing this the NHRA management made wholesale changes to the class rules. Those new rules have virtually forced most Pro Stock teams to completely retool their operation with a new engine program and race car.
As far as we know, only a few teams have made enough progress so far to test. Among those that have tested or will have by the time you read this include the 2015 Pro Stock Championship winning Elite Racing teams, Gray Racing, and Ken Black’s Summit Racing-backed Pro Stocks.
Pro Stock luminaries Warren Johnson and Dick Maskin have both predicted the NHRA Pro Stock cars with an engine built to a 10,500-rpm limit and using EFI would be down about 100 horsepower from the 2015 engines and their performance would suffer both in ET and Speed.
Shane Gray modifies his old Camaro
In the first quarter-mile tests, Shane Gray in his Gray Racing Camaro made laps in the high 6.60’s at 205 mph. The results which were that the new cars with EFI induction, 10,500 rpm limiters, shortened wheelie bar length, and no hood scoop, Gray’s car lost a tenth of a second on ET and 3-5 mph on speed.
Thanks to the team’s PR agency we have the following remarks concerning performance and how different this version of the car is from what he drove last year.
"Well, it's slow," Gray said. "I think it's about 5 mph off and at least a tenth off of last year's stuff. I think it's maybe a tenth to 15-hundredths off of last year's stuff. Right now, in the present position we're in, realistically, it's 14-, 15-hundredths off and about 5 mph down."
His first full quarter mile pass occurred the week of January 11 at Florida’s Bradenton Motorsports Park when the youthful driver recorded a 6.64 ET and a top speed of 208.47.
Gray is using his 2015 Camaro from last season, which has been upgraded to 2016 specs. He wasn't surprised with the slowdown in speed, as his pass Tuesday was 6.64 seconds at 208.47 mph.
"I sort of suspected it," Gray said. "I expected it to run a little bit more speed than it did. Shoot, man, we've got miles and miles to go with this stuff. The drivability of it -- I don't want to sound negative -- but let's just say it's laughable and tricky. The drivability on the starting line is definitely a handful."
Gray was conservative in the first couple of burnouts he attempted, knowing the car would be different.
"I was real cautious with it because I didn't know if the throttle was going to return at the finish line," Gray said. "You wonder with all this stuff, but today we got it all the way to the finish line. Everything works fine, and the throttle returns back to idle. It's safe; it's just tricky and slow."
The staging process, which has been the same for many years in Pro Stock, has changed, too.
"The burnout is very, very tricky," Gray said. "The staging procedure is really tricky. You can't really give it any throttle staging it. You have to stage the thing at idle because if you start to give it any input on the throttle, then it changes the mapping and starts putting a bunch of fuel in the motor.
"If you try to give it throttle to stage it, it will just flood itself and die."
Gray said another change for 2016, the removal of hood scoops, did not have much effect on him.
"I really didn't even notice it much," Gray said. "But I'm kind of a taller guy, so that wasn't much of an issue before."