The momentum and the racer preference for turbocharged Pro Mod class cars included Western Canada last season….

During 2015, Western Canada’s Pro Modified scene was further enhanced by a strong emergence for a new class player as well as the return of a wily veteran within the popular category.

Jeff Doyle, who had previously raced a supercharged Top Sportsman ’37 Chevy, grabbed a lot of attention with his awesome new Pro-Line Racing powered 1968 Pontiac Firebird, expertly built by RH Race Cars (Kelowna BC).

Jeff Doyle's new Firebird eclipsed the 250 mph barrier during it's first season experience.

Jeff Doyle’s new Firebird eclipsed the 250 mph barrier during it’s first season experience.

Doyle’s car features a 670 CID Chevy motor equipped with twin 94 mm turbochargers.

Using that engine program, Jeff, who is the General Manager for Enviro-Mulch (from Ft. St. John BC), made a very speedy impact right out of the gate last season — guiding his machine to numerous very fast season runs. That included a formidable 250.50 mph top end clocking.

“A couple of years ago I decided to build a new car,” Jeff explained. “I originally had Top Sportsman class intentions – but over time that grew into Pro Mod. 2015 was a great experience overall and I’m very happy with the way things went. The support I got from the guys at RH Race Cars was absolutely outstanding. It seems that together we went a lot of miles in a very short period of time.”

Jeff did limit his 2015 race event experiences to Mission Raceway and Edmonton’s Castrol Raceway only last year. But he made very steady progress while campaigning within the WDRL’s inaugural season – finishing 3rd in their final points chase.

Jeff Doyle with his RH Race Cars-built Firebird

Jeff Doyle with his RH Race Cars-built Firebird

“Our performance objective for this year is to get the car into the 5’s,” Jeff added. He also confirmed that due to the current poor state of the Canadian $ exchange he will “stay Canadian” this year for his 2016 season campaign.

Jeff’s racing program includes astute assistance from his crew which includes Rob Atwood, Mike Dixon and Darren Heslop.

The mid-point of the 2015 also included the return of one of Canada’s most famous and colourful Pro Mod class drivers, non other then “Ricky D” (Rick Distefano).

The Calgary-based racer who in his career has driven cool Pro Mod cars of many configurations with great success, did make his first ever stabs at the 1/4 mile in a turbocharged Pro Mod car.

Distefano has retrofitted his 1970 Camaro, which he formally raced supercharged, to include a new Pro-Line Racing Hemi-motor equipped with Brad Anderson stage VI heads.

According to Rick, all this came to be after some off-season convincing by fellow Calgary based PM class driver – Joe Delahay.

“Before last summer – I had taken five years off from racing,” revealed “Ricky D”. “I still had the car and engine block and I was sitting by my pool down in Phoenix with Joe one day. He got talking and the next thing I knew I was ordering a bunch of parts!”

Rick Distefano's '70 Camaro has been reconfigured for turbocharged Pro Mod racing.

Rick Distefano’s ’70 Camaro has been reconfigured for turbocharged Pro Mod racing.

Rick had Pro-Line Racing assemble the motor and the race car chassis itself was then converted by RH Race Cars. Rick’s talented team then did their own final assembly at their Calgary-based race shop.

“To be honest I first thought about building a turbo car some 15 years ago – well before it became fashionable,” he continued. “I actually started to convert one of my Corvettes back in 2006 – but that project was never completed.”

Distefano only made limited appearances in his race car last season and admits that initially it was a bit of a challenge for him from a driver’s perspective.

After a long absence -- "Ricky D" returned to Pro Mod class racing during 2015.

After about a 5-year absence — “Ricky D” returned to Pro Mod class racing during 2015.

“I’ve been driving a supercharged car all my career so this was something totally different,” he added. “But I’m pretty comfortable with it now and I actually like the driving experience better. Those blown Pro Mod cars seem to be pissed off and aggressive all the time! This ride is a lot calmer, quieter and overall a lot easier on parts. It’s pretty incredible how fast they come on at the top end – I’m really glad I did this.”

As the season begins Rick isn’t quite sure what his 2016 racing schedule would will look like exactly. That will play itself out according to how he and his team progresses.

“I don’t like to go out to race until things are right and I know I can be competitive and win,” he affirmed. “I want to build some confidence in the car and wait until we have it all together. We’ll know when it’s time.”


Post and Photos by Bruce Biegler