DragRaceCanada kicks off it’s VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod Portal season coverage with results from NHRA Gainesville….

NHRA’s E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod Drag Racing Series vaulted into action last weekend as the first of 12 season races was held in conjunction with NHRA’s Amalie Oil Gatornationals.

The marquee event which was a torrid affair on many fronts, included the Pro Mod class when no less then a record setting 35 machines (!) vied for one of the coveted 16-qualifying positions.

With the record car count, the race also featured a number of new and budding racers and drivers emerging in the class category, but in the end it was a wily veteran “Trickie Rickie” Smith who prevailed.   Smith drove to victory when he clocked a final round 5.794-second pass at 249.76 mph in his nitrous-injected Chevrolet Camaro to take down the supercharged car of Mike Janis.

That was Smith’s first victory since Englishtown last summer — but it was also the 12th NHRA title of his legendary career.

After qualifying 4th (5.776 secs) in the super swift field which featured a bump spot of 5.832 secs, Smith then topped Bob Rahaim, Jim Whiteley and Mike Castellana in earlier rounds on his way to the win.

Wily Veteran racer “Trickie Rickie” Smith drew first season blood within NHRA’s E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod class racing for 2018.

“To be able to come out here after not having a sponsor all winter and not knowing what we were going to do this season and then end up getting a win in the first race is really special,” Smith said. “I started winning championships in 1976, and to keep winning races at this age is just unreal.”

Western New York-state based Mike Janis had a strong race again and secured the fifth runner-up finish of his Pro Mod career as he continues his mission of duplicating his first victory which came back in the 2015 season.

Mike Janis scored a runner-up finish racing his new configuration supercharged ’69 Camaro

With his win, Smith who finished 9th in points last year, got a great season start towards his goal of winning his 5th NHRA Pro Mod class championship.

The event’s performance stars included Mike Castellana, who qualified #1 at 5.750 secs and then set low ET of the event at 5.746 secs on Sunday. Jose Gonzalez, who has been a star driver within the PDRA’s 1/8 mile circuit set top speed of the meet with his turbocharged Q80-backed Camaro at 256.45 mph.

The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service continues at the NHRA SpringNationals in Houston, Tex. on April 20-22.

Top speed of the meet in Pro Mod was set by skilled 1/8th mile crossover racer Jose Gonzalez in the Q80 Racing Camaro

Carl Stevens Jr., drove Jim Bell’s Edmonton-based JB’s Power Centre Camaro at Gainesville and qualified it on the bump at 5.832 secs.

#1 qualifier Mike Castellana roared to low ET of the meet too at 5.746 secs in the AAP Chevy Camaro.

The Gainesville PM class opener included a number of new names — including this C7 raced by Chad Green. Green had a great event going until a major crash in the semi final round which severely damaged his new race car.

Post and photos by Bruce Biegler

To view even more Pro Mod class images from Gainesville – visit our event photo gallery presentation :  HERE