News & Analysis

Whither NHRA Pro Stock?

Many racers are moving on


Words and photos by Chris Haverly

To follow NHRA PRO STOCK in 2019, you may want to buy a program. When your 2017 WORLD CHAMPION, Bo Butner, and your 2018 WORLD CHAMPION, Tanner Gray, move on to other adventures you have to be concerned. Also leaving the class, as of this writing (Nov. 15) -- the list gets longer daily -- Drew Skillman, John Gaydosh are gone for sure, with others maybe cutting back or looking for sponsorship. The latest word says Shane Tucker has been trying to buy the Gray operation, but that may not happen because they can’t agree on a price.

Mountain View team owner Nick Mitsos has decided to park their Pro Stock car, putting Vincent Nobile out of a ride for 2019. The team plans on running a Camaro they built for the Factory Stock Shootout classes. Another one bites the dust. Ryan Priddy drove the FS car this season.


The NHRA has also cut the class to 18 races, the odd thing about that is the six races they dropped. Bristol, Atlanta, Houston and the 4-wide race at zMax are all in the heart of Pro Stock country and short hauls for most of the teams. Topeka and Epping being the other two. Not to mention the purse being cut after only 14 cars showed up for the Countdown race at zMax. So, with all of this, along with the constant complain about it being “Camaro Stock”, you have to wonder if the fat lady has started warming up to sing.

These drivers are leaving Pro Stock.


The Mountain Motor deal was welcomed with open arms by the 500-inch guys -- who told me they knew the class was in trouble -- now is a “no-go” as far as running the two against each other head to head. Rumor is the Mountain Motor cars may replace the 500-inch cars at three or four of the races that were dropped. That would make sense at Bristol and Atlanta since they were at one time IHRA tracks.


On the plus side, Matt Smith plans on running an Elite car at events where the bikes don't race. Fernando Cuadra, who runs Summit Racing Equipment, has a couple of sons who may step in and drive along with a friend of his who has plans to or already has purchased Erica Enders’ Dodge Dart Pro Stock car to race. With the new rule of running any motor in any body style, he could run a Chevy engine in the Dodge, that doesn't set well with any Mopar fan or most purists of the class. Charlie Westcott Jr. has been beating on his Ford combination so he will make selected events.


So, 2019 opens the door for new drivers, new teams, and new sponsors. The question is, who is willing to spend a million plus to lease a car, or more to own their own team when first-round money doesn't cover travel expenses.


Rumor was, as rumors go, NHRA hinted that if the owners could secure funding to cover the purse, like the Pro Mods, they could keep their 24-race schedule. I don't see that happening, so 18 races it is in 2019. What lies ahead in 2020 I say depends largely on full fields at the 2019 events and butts in the stands. Get your program here -- $20.00 each!   


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