Rob Mansfield’s
Rookie IHRA Pro
Stock Season Diary


By Rob Mansfield
Photos by Jeff Burk

I’m on the plane going home from Norwalk, Ohio and thought I’d write my journal article while it’s all still fresh in my mind.  I haven’t done one for the last few races because I was sick of explaining why we didn’t qualify (it was starting to get monotonous and eventually, reasons begin to sound like excuses) plus, we have missed a few of the races as I had previously warned you. 

The World Nationals at Norwalk rained out half way through the first round of eliminations and have been rescheduled to race on October 9th.  The good news is that we will be going back because the Wilson Manifolds’ Pontiac Grand Am finally qualified and did so in a big way.  We were the number one qualifier, posting a 6.552 at 212.53 mph, setting the track record!  Additionally, our car won Best Engineered Pro Car as a bonus!  It was an amazing weekend, even with the torrential rains and the unfortunate six-week delay until eliminations can continue.  It’s hard to believe that is only the fifth event we attended and in our first successful qualifying we grabbed the number one spot.  Let me tell you what has happened since my last journal.

The last race we actually went to was Milan where we were unable to qualify.  That was more of the same, which was why I was unable to bring myself to write a journal article for that event.  We had determined not to attend the Canadian races due to travel time and only having one motor at the time.  Then we also missed the Northern Nationals due to Hurricane Charlie (remember our race shop is in Winter Park, Florida). 

We are an always-evolving team.  As, team member, Mikey Baker likes to say, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”  To us that means we are always looking for and doing more.  The team that never says “Can’t.”  At Milan, we stayed over to do some extensive shock testing. 

In the time since Milan, we changed engine builders to Ron Hutter Racing Engines, who is well known for wins and championships in NASCAR Series Truck, Busch Series and Cup Racing, as well as, doing R&D for GM’s racing programs. We have been waiting on our new motor program to come together.  We are all thrilled to have Ron and his staff on board with us and look forward to more exceptional motor performance from them.  What an asset they have been to our team.

For this race, Billy Dingman and Mikey Baker came to town on Tuesday to put the motor in the car at Hutter’s shop in Chardon, Ohio.  The rest of us (Bob Birchmeier, Justin Elkes, Keith Wilson, Denise Mansfield, and me) arrived on Thursday afternoon to finish the prep work.  In addition to our regular team, we had assistance from Ron Hutter and Rich Bertleff from Hutter Racing Engines, who stayed with us all weekend and did round by round tuning. 

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