The 2018 racing season for the marquee 1/8th mile PDRA was launched last weekend down in North Carolina….

DragRaceCanada’s “Pro Mod Portal” subsection host — VP Racing Fuels – showcases season event #1 for the PDRA!

And it was competitors from the Tar Heel State who nearly swept the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) East Coast Spring Nationals as Jay Cox led a host of fellow North Carolinians into the winner’s circle at GALOT Motorsports Park. 

Cox, from nearby Smithfield, recorded a string of 3.6-second passes to secure the season-opening win in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous presented by MoTeC over 2014 Pro Nitrous world champion Jason Harris. Joining Cox in victory were Pinetown’s Terry Leggett in Bryant Industrial Pro Extreme presented by Pro Line Racing, Jacksonville’s Elijah Morton in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock and Bahama’s Rodney Williford in Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle. Lugoff, SC’s Jeremy Ray was the winner in Moroso Pro Boost. 

Second-generation drag racer Johnny Pluchino scored the event victory in East Side Auto Transport Pro Outlaw 632, while Canadian John Carinci earned the Atomizer Injectors Outlaw 10.5 win. 

The winners in the PDRA’s expansive offering of sportsman classes were Donny Urban in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman, John Prime in Top Sportsman 32, Kevin Brannon in Lucas Oil Top Dragster and Josh Duggins in Top Dragster 32. In Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster, Anthony Suppers used a superior reaction time and a 7.919 to defeat No. 1 qualifier Noah Cornatzer’s 7.905, both on a 7.90 dial-in. The Gilbert Motorsports Top Jr. Dragster final round was also decided on the starting line, as Logan Westmoreland drove his Half Scale dragster to a 9.109 on a 9.05 dial-in to take down Chris Hancock and his 8.949 on an 8.83 dial. Smithfield’s Jason Stowe won the Edelbrock Bracket Bash competition in his ’92 Chevy S-10. 

PRO NITROUS — Jay Cox and his Buck-powered “Pumpkin” ’69 Camaro made a strong opening statement in the Flatout Gaskets Nitrous Wars when the local favorite uncorked three of the quickest passes in Pro Nitrous history to win the East Coast Spring Nationals. In the final round against Jason Harris and the “Party Time” ’69 Camaro, Cox left the starting line first and maintained his lead through the finish line, posting a 3.696 at 201.31 mph to beat Harris’s 3.74 at 201.07. 

“We’ve got a really good motor right now,” Cox said. “Me and (engine builder) Charlie Buck worked really hard on this piece. He thrashed day and night last year to get it to me early so I could put a few passes on it. We made some changes over the winter, made some more changes after the Mad Mule race here in March, and today you see the results.”

Jay Cox wheeled “The Pumpkin” Chevy Camaro to the P/N title.

Cox’s trip to the winner’s circle started from the No. 2 spot. Through eliminations, he posted an unopposed 3.702 at 201.58 and a 3.677 at 202.09 over Danny Sauro before using a holeshot advantage and 3.664 at 202.52 to take down Lizzy Musi’s 3.658 at 204.98 in the semifinals. Harris qualified in the No. 12 spot and defeated Jim Halsey, Matt Guenther and two-time and defending world champion Tommy Franklin before facing Cox in the final round. 

PRO EXTREME — Past Pro Extreme world champion Jason Scruggs’s celebrated return to competition was shut down in the final round by North Carolina logger Terry “Legbone” Leggett in his Leggett Logging & Trucking ’71 Mustang. Scruggs left first, but an aggressive wheelstand forced the veteran wheelman to back off the throttle, allowing Leggett to charge on to a 3.557 at 213.47. 

Terry “Legbone” Leggett won in P/X with his spectular ’71 Ford Mustang

Leggett qualified No. 2 and earned his spot in the final round with an opening-round 3.697 at 172.61 win over Swedish racer Adam Flamholc, who struggled to an 8-second pass. Scruggs qualified No. 1 Friday night, but faced a late-night thrash to repair the Roger Henson-owned ’69 Camaro after a high-speed run-in with the gravel pit at the end of the track. He returned Sunday morning with an unopposed 3.684 at 163.53 in the first round before facing Leggett. 

PRO BOOST — After a string of strong performances at various preseason races around the Southeast, Jeremy Ray and his “Carolina Kingpin” ’63 Corvette were poised to secure their second PDRA event win. Last year’s Indy winner did exactly that, firing off consistent 3.7-second passes capped off by a 3.72 at 200.77 in the final round. Ray’s opponent, Outlaw 10.5 legend Chuck Ulsch, broke shortly after leaving the starting line. 

“This is just awesome,” said the soft-spoken Ray. “I don’t get too excited; I’m calm. I race the racetrack. Whatever it takes is what I’ll give it. I don’t run my mouth – the scoreboard does the talking for Jeremy.”

Jeremy Ray was a picture of consistency while winning in Pro Boost with his ’63 Corvette.

Ray raced from the No. 6 position before beating Larry Higginbotham in the opening round. Second-round opponent Eric Donovan was unable to make the call after suffering an engine explosion in the first round, while semifinal opponent Marc Caruso slowed to a 4-second pass alongside Ray’s 3.712 at 200.92. Ulsch qualified No. 4, moved past first round unopposed and beat Pro Mod veterans Ray Commisso and Tommy D’Aprile before the final round. 

The next stop on the 2018 PDRA Tour is the PDRA North-South Shootout at Maryland International Raceway, May 3-5.  

ABOUT THE PDRA — Based in Pittsboro, North Carolina, the Professional Drag Racers Association is the top sanctioning body in the United States for the sport of eighth-mile drag racing. The PDRA’s professional categories include Pro Extreme, Pro Nitrous, Pro Boost, Extreme Pro Stock and Pro Extreme Motorcycle along with several sportsman and various exhibition categories. The 2018 PDRA schedule consists of eight national events. 

For more on the world’s premier eighth-mile drag racing organization visit 

Posted by Nate Van Wagnen  Photos by Steve and Eric Embling