ABR Debuts Rolling Test Lab 

It’s been a few years since Canadian Pro Mod engine building guru Al Billes has been a car owner – but late in 2012 all that changed….

Billes, whose tuning reputation within supercharged Pro Mod racing  is arguably second to none, took possession of a 1963 Corvette during October and since then has been active while building some anticipation for next season.

He first ran the car in competition in late October at the season-ending NHRA ProCare RX Pro Mod finale at Las Vegas with Connecticut’s Pete Farber as his designated driver.   The car grabbed attention right out of the gate by qualifying 10th and going to round two during it’s debut.  That was impressive considering the car had been assembled in a relative short order flurry just prior. 

Al Billes' new Pro Mod Corvette made it's competition debut at Las Vegas in October

Al Billes’ new Pro Mod Corvette made it’s competition debut at Las Vegas in October

Billes acquired this car from Tim McAmis.  It in fact has some history as it had been run before in Canada a couple of years back with both Ralph Andreacchi and Tony Piselli driving it. 

“I knew the car was around for a while and I went back and forth a bit before I picked it up in October,” Billes revealed. “It had been crashed once so it was sent back to McAmis for some repairs and updates.  Then the deal actually came together pretty quick and I thrashed on the car day and night to get it ready to race.”

Canadian tuning guru Al Billes

Canadian tuning guru Al Billes

For Billes, who was also a highly reputed driver earlier in his career, it is the first time he has actually owned a race car personally since 2005.   He retired from the cockpit that season after enduring a couple of major crashes which did leave him with a concussion and some symptoms that he still feels to this day. 

“When I look at this car I start drooling about getting back in it,” Billes confided.  “But I’ve been warned by my neurologist that that would not be a good idea.  I do have some lingering effects so I definitely have no plans to drive it.  Also my priorities in life have changed too including my wife, two kids and family.  So instead I will focus on a new racing chapter and use my car as more of a rolling test bed.” 

Al Billes-powered supercharged Pro Mod engine programs are very prevalent all over the sport of drag racing including numerous top runners within the NHRA ProCare RX series, the ADRL and also Canada’s popular PMRA circuit.  

“I plan to use the car to help move forward and develop some of the many ideas I have,” he continued. “To be honest my preference and priority is for ¼ mile racing because that is really where I can showcase my engine and supercharger technology.  In this class performance gains are always a moving target. This Corvette is going to be a field laboratory.” 

Billes does however face somewhat of a current dilemma.   In the latter part of 2012 the car was driven by both Pete Farber and Tommy D’Aprile – but that position is now unassigned for 2013. 

“For next year I don’t have a permanent driver so I’m actively looking for one,” Al confirmed.  “Both Pete and Tommy did a great job while filling in but they both have potential conflicts racing their own cars next season.  So I am looking for a capable driver — preferably someone with a truck and trailer that can help transport the race car.” 

(Editors Note:  If you are seriously interested in this driving opportunity (?) you can contact Al Billes by e-mail atalbilles@gmail.com )


And just how good is this race car you might ask?  Well I think that answer is already very apparent. 

Following that strong debut at NHRA Las Vegas, Billes’s new Corvette headed to the U.S. South East and promptly won back-to-back weekends during the recent Winter Series events in Florida.   Billes tuned his guest driver, home state racer Tommy D’Aprile to wins at both the Citrus Nationals (at Bradenton) and then the Snowbird Outlaw Nationals (at West Palm Beach).  Both of those were 1/8th mile affairs featuring highly competitive fields with close to 30 cars attempting to qualify for each of the 16-car eliminators. 

Posting and photos by:  Bruce Biegler