“Beef and Bouquet” from International Challenge
It was billed very early this season as a very special showdown featuring head-to-head some of the best Pro Mod cars in America versus some of the best from Canada…..but unfortunately that’s not what transpired…
From a “bouquet” perspective, last weekend at Royce Miller’s fabulous Maryland International Raceway facility south of Baltimore, Pro Mod racing fans certainly got their fill. The event featured a super solid car count with primary participants from John Mazzorana’s Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association combined with local area talents resulted in a field of 28 cars making qualifying laps.
That competition was rather ferocious and it started off rather ominously too. Even before the spectator gates were opened for Friday afternoon’s schedule, NEOPM regular Jim Bersani produced some unintended excitement during a open test single. His turbocharged ’57 Chevy went for a very nasty high speed spill when a rear tire cut down right in the lights and his car made hard contact with the guard walls. While Jim’s car was severely damaged — he thankfully received no injuries.
In the end, late on Saturday night, it was nitrous-injected Corvette driver Fredy Scriba that emerged victorious when his final round 5.917 secs at 238.93 mph bested the potent turbocharged Mustang of Steve Drummond for the event’s primary title. Scriba’s victory came over a 16-car field of qualifiers. That program was paced by Robert Patrick Jr., who ran his nitrous-injected Ford Mustang to a rather astounding 5.812 secs for the pole and which was a new MIR track record for Pro Mod cars.
And because of the strong car count overall event organizers also ran a consolation Quick 8 Pro Mod field for non-qualifiers with that win going to the nitrous-injected Camaro owned by Steve Kramer and Paul Wood.
The weekend’s event also featured added attractions, the “Wild Bunch” program which was won by local legend Bunny Burkett’s immaculate Corvette Funny Car that is driven by Matt Stambaugh as well as Jet Dragsters which complimented great action from MIR’s truly impressive local ET Bracket Racing program.
…..but unfortunately all those positives were tempered by a “elephant in the room” sized downside.
The 1st annual International Pro Mod Challenge which was held at MIR last year featured an all Canadian final round when Rocky Di Lecce beat Bruce Boland to give Canada a 1-2 event finish. So anticipation, advertising and pre race hype was pretty high for this year’s rematch between the two countries.
When the Pro Mod head count was complete – two PMRA members showed for the event – U.S. based racers Jason White and Mike Stawicki. But the harsh reality was — not one – but exactly zero – Canadian cars were present for this event.
That development caught many people off guard not the least of whom was PMRA President Bruce Mehlenbacher and his PMRA team who were in attendance at the event. They were left both embarrassed and disappointed by that lack of Canadian racer support.
“It’s frustrating what happened because all of the Canadian racers in our group knew about this event even before the 2014 season started,” said Bruce Mehlenbacher. “We got very little or no notice that they were not coming. This is certainly a set back to our goals of trying to build something positive and bigger for our circuit and it’s racers.”
The concept of the International Pro Mod Challenge is truly creative and innovative – with grandeur plans for even bigger events and even some future Canadian soil editions. But because of this non-action by Canadian Pro Mod racers that notion may now be squandered – permanently.
NEOPM President Mazzorana was quick to affirm that likelihood telling DragRaceCanada emphatically that ; “this will never happen again.”
While I’m sure that all the Canadian teams in question from the PMRA may have individual and valid (to themselves) excuses and reasons for their no-shows — I would suggest that all those teams need to step back for a moment for reflection. Where would their Pro Mod racing programs be today had there not been the PMRA program and support over the last decade?
And don’t kid yourself, all circumstances aside, to all the U.S. competitors who attended the event and looked forward to this International rematch – we (Canada) now look like — chickens.
The 2014 season is in fact the PMRA’s 10th Anniversary season and for this to be the final chapter to that year of celebration is hardly deserving.
Post by: Bruce Biegler
Photos by Bruce Biegler & Steve Embling
To view DragRaceCanada’s International Pro Mod Challenge Event Photo gallery click: HERE