NHRA Pro Mod series close to reality?
By Jeff Burk
has heard enough from several reliable sources to believe that there
will be a Pro Mod exhibition series in NHRA for at least the 2006
season and possibly beyond. This is good news for those racers trying
to decide what races and with which sanctioning body they will attend
It’s an open secret that Mike Ashley’s organization
has been working very hard to convince the Toyo Tire Company to
sponsor the series and, from what we are hearing, they are very
close to closing the deal. I personally believe that Toyo, a company
that obviously wants to have a much stronger presence in NHRA than
they presently have, would benefit from a sponsorship of the NHRA
Pro Mod program.
However, I don’t believe that the future of NHRA Pro Mod
depends completely on the Toyo deal and here is why. Even if Ashley
and his group cannot bring Toyo Tire to the table, I believe Ashley's
group and some of the more wealthy NHRA-only Pro Mod owners will
step up and fund the series. For some of these teams and owners
racing at the IHRA or ADRL isn’t an option either for business
reasons or their own egos.
Not racing at NHRA national events in 2006 probably isn’t
an option for Mike Ashley's team or his sponsors. Since Ashley has
raced minimally if at all with the IHRA in the past, it’s
a good bet all his sponsorship is based upon him competing at NHRA
events and could be voided if his team doesn’t race at NHRA
national events. Rather than lose all of that funding outright,
Ashley could put part of it into a fund to support the series and
still be ahead.
Based upon my information I’m fairly certain that should
the Ashley group not be able to secure a major title rights sponsor
for the NHRA Pro Mod program they will solicit selected owners,
sponsors and manufacturers to fund the program much like CART and
other major series have in the past. I believe he may have already
gotten commitments from some of the above to financially support
I also think that whatever happens in the way of sponsorship, barring
some person or company putting up the annual $800,000-$1,000,000
required to maintain the series status quo, the series structure
will change drastically either in payout, number of races or both.
My sources say that the Ashley group has already conducted a “straw
poll” to see if those racers committed to racing in an NHRA-based
series would race for less round money and prize money. The racers
are willing to make concessions if that is what is needed to keep
the series alive.
The only questions remaining in my mind is not if there is going
to be a series, but where and how many races will be held and what
kind of purse structure will the series have.
The series began as a five-race deal and as long as they get to
race at Indy, E-Town, Dallas, and Las Vegas I think that would satisfy
most sponsors. Because Mike Ashley has basically given his word
to the NHRA Pro Mod community that there will be a series in 2006
and based upon his own commitment to his sponsors, there is little
doubt in my mind that there will be an NHRA Pro Mod series in 2006.