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Pro Mod returns to roots at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park

Words and photos by Jeff Burk

A case could be made that Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, known to everyone in drag racing as E-town, is the home of Pro Modified. Way back in the summer of 1989 the USSC circuit ran a two-race tour with a stop at Atco and E-town. So it was a reunion of sorts for some of the Pro Mod racers and fans who showed up at the NHRA SuperNationals for the first NHRA-sanctioned Pro Mod race at the historic New Jersey track.

Among the 20 or so teams that showed for the race were two of the same racers who ran that first USSC race nearly 13 years ago: Mike Ashley and Bill Kuhlmann.

Just for the record, Ashley, who qualified for this year's event, won that 1989 USSC race at E-town beating Robbie Vandergriff's '57 in the final with a then- record elapsed time of 7.022 at 211.16 mph.

The times (both literally and figuratively) and speeds certainly have changed since that race. Bob Rieger (lead photo) had low elapsed time of the event with a 6.159, followed closely by Fred Hahn's 6.167. Hahn had Top Speed of the meet at 230.80. Both men backed up those numbers to set new DRO/NMM cup records. The performances at this event were outstanding with four cars in the six-'teens, a bump spot of 6.319, and speeds above 220 mph for every qualifier.

Because the weather was once again ideal (50 degree temps) for the those racers using supercharged power (as it has been at all but one of the NHRA Pro Mod races this year), there was only one successful nitrous oxide-injected car out of the five trying to make the eight-car field. That was the Viper of multi-time IHRA Pro Stock World Champ Rickie Smith (above), who ran a respectable 6.30 in qualifying which was good for the number seven spot, just in front of a struggling Chip King.

Steve Cossis and his 'Vette were one of the five nitrous cars that came to E-town. Cossis hurt at least one of his motors and had to work late Friday night changing an engine in order to make the qualifying call on Saturday.


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