High Plains Drifter
The central Canadian province of Saskatchewan does not have a long list of participants when it comes to Pro Mod racing….
While Regina’s Vogt Brothers were the first from the Province to carve their names in the class and are undoubtably the most recognized, Saskatoon’s Mike Gondziola may be on pace to upset that notion.
Mike is no stranger to Pro Mod cars. He paid his dues while working a number a seasons as a valued crew member to Glen Kerunsky – participating during Glen’s strong seasons running IHRA and NHRA. Before that he also raced his own Pro Mod car. That was a 1993 Corvette that had previously been campaigned by Roger Sanders and driven by Ronnie hood and which Mike raced only sporadically and locally in Western Canada.
All of that was a while ago and up to about 2005. Then after a hiatus, in 2011 things shifted again and evolved for the owner and operator of reputed Extreme Transmissions in Saskatoon.
“I had be out of racing for quite a while – but a bunch of Pro Mod cars came to my home track, Saskatchewan International Raceway,” Mike recalled. “I sat in a car again and sure enough I got the itch again. I thought to myself if I was going to do this again – I better get at it.”
So in 2012 he started getting a new car together. Mike purchased a ’68 Camaro Tim McAmis-built car which had some modifications done to it by Jerry Bickel. He then shoehorned a massive 903 CID electronic fuel injection Pat Musi motor into the frame rails and hit the track again making about four appearances.
“I started off slow,” he continued. “I knew that Pro Mod racing had really changed over the time I had been out of it. There was almost a time warp difference in both the cars and technology. All the tuning now is done with electronics, a laptop and a cell phone — that’s a big adjustment. In 2013 we worked hard to creep back up to the pace of some of the fast guys. We went out about seven times and I think we made good progress.”
While Mike’s machine is yet to break into the 5 seconds zone, he has numerous 6.0 secs runs to his credit (including a 6.005 secs best) so that barrier is most certainly just around the corner. His 100% independent team features great support from his crew which includes crew chief Boris Kotyk, along with George Scott, Waylan Kewantin and Jim Rowe.
“It’s fun to be back in the mix,” he added. “We don’t have a lot of race tracks right in our area so it’s hard to go testing and we are not competing in any circuit just yet. For this year we are going to focus on going to only good race track surfaces — like Mission, Edmonton and Las Vegas.”
Mike also confirmed that this season he would also like to try his luck with entry at a couple of NHRA national events.
Photos and posting by: Bruce Biegler