Mohler captures All Motor Championship "Granny Shifting" a FWD entry.
CENTER LINE, Mich. - Scott Mohler and Darrell Cox Racing put the finishing touches on their 2003 NHRA Sport Compact championship last Sunday when Mohler drove his Team Mopar Dodge Neon into the All Motor division semifinal round at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway. All in a day's work for Mohler, who drove the front-wheel-drive entry with a stock 5-speed manual transmission all season in a class that also permits rear- and all-wheel- drive vehicles.
"It was great to get this championship and bring it to a front-wheel-drive car," Mohler said. "It's just awesome to pick up this title!"
Perhaps most impressive is that Mohler finessed a stock 2002 Dodge Neon R/T 5-speed manual of his Dodge to consistent runs all season.
"Some of the other Sport Compact drivers use manuals," Mohler said, "but we're probably one of the only ones running a stock manual tranny. It's bone stock. The gears are all stock, syncros and internals are all stock.
"It's not too hard to drag race with, though. You just gotta be able to concentrate and hit the gears when you need to. Now that I think about it, I've not missed a gear all year, which I guess is an accomplishment in itself. And that's 'granny shifting' it! You know: let off the gas completely . push in the clutch . shift the lever . clutch out . back in the gas. Most of the other cars in Sport Compact have done a lot to the manual transmissions to firm 'em up and allow speed shifting, at least.
"The stock gears are not meant to be drag raced," Mohler added. "They're meant to drive the family up hills and around town. But we won a championship with it, and it's only going to get better."
With the pressure on, Mohler didn't flinch in the season finale at Pomona. He drove his Neon through two rounds of eliminations, enough to stay ahead of his challenger, Ken Scheepers. Mohler, former class record-holder for elapsed-time and speed, turned in his best pass of the event in qualifying with a 10.218-second 1/4-mile at 135.25 mph. Mohler was champion of the NOPI (NDRA) Pro Stock division in 2002.
"Early numbers said we could have run a nine," Mohler said, "but we blew our good motor in qualifying round two. Luckily, we were able to hold them off and get two round wins. We were pretty positive going into Pomona because of how well the car ran in Englishtown."
In the previous event at Englishtown, Mohler clicked off an All Motor record pass of 10.051 seconds at 135.89 mph. Mohler's Neon is still the only All Motor car to tick through the traps over 135 mph this season.
"We're going to do some tranny work in the off season," Mohler said. "And Darrell [Cox, owner and engine builder] has got a lot of stuff lined up for the motor to build some more power for next season. In our class, gaining five horsepower is a big deal!"
Cox is a good man for the horsepower gaining job: his other DCR vehicle, a Dodge SRT-4 Hot Rod entry driven by Mike Crawford, finished second in points. Shaun Carlson drove his Dodge SRT-4 into third place in the Pro FWD class behind the power of a Darrell Cox engine, despite missing four events.
Mohler's championship adds to the already impressive accomplishments for Team Mopar this season. J.J. Yeley won the USAC National Sprint car championship in his No. 20 Mopar from Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises earlier this month. On Oct. 18, Doug Shepherd, Pete Gladysz, Chris Whiteman and Michael Paulin completed a host of 2WD championships in SCCA Pro Rally competition.
Mopar is based in Center Line, Mich., and is the exclusive original equipment supplier of parts for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep® vehicles.