First Nitrous Pro Mod driver in the 5's
He's not pompous at all, so it wouldn't do to call him "Admiral Halsey." But Jim Halsey clearly was in command Oct. 4 and 5 at The Shakedown at E-Town outlaw race at Englishtown, New Jersey.
This veteran racer from Maryland, was the talk of drag racing's Pro Modified world, as he used Old Bridge Township Raceway Park's quarter-mile as the backdrop for a stunning skein of 5.9-second passes that were the first for a nitrous Pro Mod driver.
He breezed to the top-qualifying position with a 5.998-second elapsed time during the second of three qualifying sessions that Saturday. His speed on that run marked the first time a nitrous-injected Pro Mod car had exceeded 240 mph in competition.
Then during eliminations, Halsey lowered his class-best E.T. to 5.966 seconds in his first-round triumph -- at, coincidentally, a speed identical to the one with which he qualified (240.68 mph). Halsey improved in subsequent round-wins, resetting the E.T. record at 5.958 seconds in the semifinals and eclipsing the speed mark in the final with a 240.72-mph clocking.
He claimed the $20,000 jackpot in the Speedtech Pro Outlaw Nitrous class that had presenting sponsorship from Western Beef, the company that Pro Mod driver Mike Castellana owns. Castellana was the odds-on favorite to break the six-second barrier for nitrous Pro Modified drivers. But in another shocking turn of events, Castellana missed the cut as no one but Halsey dipped into the 5.9-second range.
DRO spoke with Halsey about his feat and about facing Rickie Smith in those finals, beating Castellana to the punch on the record, his position in the IHRA standings as the season final approaches, the future of nitrous-injected Pro Mod engines, and The Shakedown as a business. Here's what he had to say:
: Has what you did finally sunk in?
Jim Halsey: You know what? It kind of did, I guess, when I got home. We drove home Sunday night. But I was so tired Sunday night that it didn’t bother me. All day Monday and -- Monday night I had trouble sleeping I was so pumped up about it.
: Is that unusual for you? You've won a lot of races, and big races at that.
JH: You know, I think the biggest thing was that if he had done it, run a 5.99 and that was it, it probably wouldn't have been that big of a deal. But to run four five-second runs in eliminations, that was pretty incredible, even for me to say so.
: No one could touch you. No one could get even close. You blew them all away. Everybody was looking at Mike Castellana to do it, and then you upstaged him.
JH: Mike had been so close so many times before. It wouldn't have surprised me if he was the first one to do it. We just got fortunate enough to hit it right.
: Did you have any satisfaction in not just beating him to the punch, but also doing it at the race that he helped broker the Al-Anabi title sponsorship deal for? This Shakedown at E-Town was an important race, an important platform for him.
JH: To be honest with you, that team is as good for us as we are for them, I think. There's a little bit of rivalry there. We're friends, but everybody wants to be the best and the fastest at what they do. They give me incentive to work harder, and I'm sure I give them incentive to work harder at it, too. Yeah, it was cool doing it. What really was cool for me was I've never really had a race close to home that I've done good at. That was my first one, so I was real happy about that.