Corvette Culture Club 

By:       Bruce Biegler

If there is one thing that Canadian Pro Mod racer Al Hinds can be identified with throughout his career it would be in a word: quality.   Consistently, his Pro Mod entries have been and continue to be some of the nicest looking and best maintained cars seen anywhere in the class… 

After taking a few seasons off following the start of the new millennium, Hinds did during the 2009 season embark on the latest chapter in his Pro Mod class adventure.  He again surrounding himself with very qualified people and began fielding another top notch racecar.  With skilled and seasoned driver Gary Irving at the controls, and reputed race car builder Tom VanDerGeld calling the tune-up, Hinds’ flashy looking Castrol SLX-sponsored Corvette is one of the favorites (with fans and also to win) within  Eastern Canada’s PMRA racing circuit.   

Al Hinds' Corvette - driven by Gary Irving - is one of the PMRA's top attractions

Currently Al’s driver sits 4th in overall PMRA points as that tour turns to Grand Bend Motorplex for it’s season finale this coming Labour Day weekend.

Upon some recent reflection, Hinds, who is based from Waterloo Ontario, let it be known that in present times his team has actually come somewhat full circle.  

Al Hinds is one of Canada's most creative drag racers

“I go way back with both Tom and Gary,” Al revealed.  “Tom (founder of Lowdown Hot Rods) and I worked together on some custom cars and it was Gary that got me going the right direction when I first decided to go racing Pro Mod cars.  We all worked together initially for a couple of years during the later 1990’s before Gary started his own team.  Fast forward to now, we’ve actually reassembled a team that includes all the original members.” 

It is true that Hinds’ supercharged late model Corvette is more of a rarity in Pro Mod racing then the norm.   He is very proud that his team and car is 100% Canadian, including a chassis by Lowdown Hot Rods (Cambridge ON) and a powerful Hemi engine program from ERD (Jordan Station ON).  The car has shown steady improvement since it’s initial debut and has run a best of 6.03 secs at 230+ mph to date.

“Yes — running a late model Corvette body with a Lowdown Hot Rods chassis may be a bit outside the box thinking,” he admitted.  “But I’ve always been a fan of the newer car styles and I’ve always been totally impressed at the quality of the cars that Tom builds.  In fact I think I have an advantage.  For us this is a perfect fit and the reality is the car works really good.”

Tom VanDerGeld -- from Lowdown Hot Rods is the team car builder

Unlike most of the cars that his team races against week to week, Hinds’ Corvette is actually 100% NHRA Pro Mod class legal.  That includes blower overdrive (20%) and minimum weight (2650 lbs). 

“Although we run in an Outlaw series we don’t run our car in outlaw trim,” he confided.   “We are knocking on the 5.9 secs door and this car is fully capable of that if the conditions are right.   That (performance) barrier is my next objective.  We would also like to try our luck in the NHRA some day.  We had been very serious about that in the past but found that their grading system was very restrictive.   I would certainly like to get to 1-2 NHRA national events to see how we could do.  That is certainly another objective for our team.”

Al Hinds is also very proud and appreciative of his long time relationship with his team’s primary sponsor Castrol Canada (Wakefield Oil).  That has been an ongoing affair that dates back almost to Hinds earliest days in the Pro Mod class.  

The Castrol SLX Corvette is poised for 5-seconds time slips

“When I decided to come back racing, Anthony, Marsha and Christine (at Castrol Canada) were right there with renewed support,” Al confided.  “It almost felt like I had come back home.  That’s the great thing about having Castrol as a sponsor – they really stand behind their programs.”

Hinds was also very quick to cite the influence and the support that all of his team members provide.  That includes his wife Dee who gives him a very long leash on racing weekends.

“Racing Pro Mod cars can be a humbling experience,” he added. “But there are still some things I want to accomplish.  The guys on my team and my wife share that vision and are all part of that.”

 The Hinds Racing team is truly a great Canadian success story and expectations are that their best days are still to come. 

Al Hinds - cira 1996!

 (Bruce Biegler Photos)