First Strike to “Tricky Rickie” 

Veteran and savvy Pro Mod driver Rickie Smith raced to his first career victory in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx during the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals held at Gainesville Raceway…..

Smith, a former multi-time winner in NHRA Pro Stock, as well as a reputed Pro Mod class icon driver, held off the event’s top qualifier Mike Castellana in the final round.  Smith was driving his IDG-sponsored and nitrous injected ’68 Camaro. 

Pro Mod Winner - Rickie Smith

Smith’s win came after defeating Sweden’s Adam Flamholc, Canada’s Raymond Commisso and “Mustang Sally” driver Leah Pruett in the first three rounds.

In his only other NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series final round appearance, Smith lost to Khalid alBalooshi during the spring event held atLas Vegas last season.

In the final round at historic Auto-Plus Raceway, Smith powered his Camaro past Castellana’s ‘12 Camaro with a performance of 5.913 seconds at 240.29 mph. Castellana left the starting line first with an amazing .006 reaction time, but his car got loose near mid-track and slowed to a run of 6.435 at 189.79. 

The key round for Smith was his semifinal victory over Leah Pruett. Smith won that race on a holeshot, using a quicker reaction time at the starting line with his performance of 5.926 secs at 239.95 to cross the finish line about seven feet in front of Pruett, who had the quicker time and speed in her late-model Ford Mustang, posting a 5.919 secs at 251.34.  That victory marked the first time since it’s debut three races ago (in 2011) that the highly feared R2B2-race cars turbocharged Mustang had been defeated in NHRA competition.

A top story during the season-opening race for Pro Mod cars was the debut of 2012 model Camaros including those of Mike Castellana (far lane) and Jay Payne.

 With the victory, Smith opens the season in the series lead, 19 points ahead of Castellana.

Racing in the event’s ProCare Rx series also included the most serious accident of the event whenNew York’s Mike Janis flipped his supercharged Ford Mustang during qualifying.   Janis was thankfully not injured in the incident but his machine was too badly damaged to continue competition.

The event’s performance stars were Mike Castellana who qualified his all new Al-Anabi sponsored ’12 Camaro on the pole (5.862 secs) and then reset low ET of the event to 5.810 secs during eliminations.   Troy Coughlin, driver of the Jegs-sponsored ‘68 Camaro set top speed at a rampaging 256.26 mph racing his turbocharged machine.

Troy Coughlin was entertaining at Gainesville; including this half track antic and setting top speed of the meet at 256.26 mph (Photo courtesy of Jegs)


Winner: Rickie Smith 5.913 240.29 1st
R/UP: Mike Castellana 6.435 189.79  
Low ET: Mike Castellana 5.810    
Top Speed: Troy Coughlin   256.26  
Bump Spot:   6.955    


Series sponsor Roger Burgess ran his popular “Blue Streak” Firebird at Gainesville

(Bruce Biegler Photos)

For additional Pro Mod class photos view our event gallery:  HERE