Columbus: Jerry Haas returns to driver's seat

Fenton, Mo. - - Jerry Haas, owner of the Jerry Haas Race Cars, Inc. Pro Stock Chevy S-10 truck, announced today that he will return to the driver's seat at next week's NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing. Haas started...

Fenton, Mo. - - Jerry Haas, owner of the Jerry Haas Race Cars, Inc. Pro Stock Chevy S-10 truck, announced today that he will return to the driver's seat at next week's NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing.

Haas started the season with second year Pro Stock Truck driver Charlie Greco, from St. Davids, Penn., and rookie driver Matt Rhoades, from Lake Havasu City, Ariz., handling the driving duties for the newly formed two truck operation. Both drivers have since left Team Haas to pursue other opportunities.

"It is really exciting for me to get back to driving," said Haas, who has not races a truck competitively since Las Vegas in early 2000. "I want to wish Charlie (Greco) and Matt (Rhoades) the best as they pursue new endeavors.

"For now, we will return to a one truck operation and our engine power will continue to be supplied by Bill 'Grumpy' Jenkins. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new Jenkins-built power plant, which should enable us to compete with the very best competitors that Pro Stock Truck has on the track today. With Jimmy Gunther and Bob Shawcross turning the wrenches on this Chevy S-10, it shouldn't take long to return to the performance levels of seasons past."

Haas started his racing career as a weekend hobby racer while holding down a full time job as a tool and die maker in St. Louis. It was at the race track that Haas saw a new need - - the need for expert chassis building. Said Haas, "There weren't that many tubular race cars out there and I didn't like what other builders at the time were doing. I wanted to do business with somebody like I would want them to do business with me. So, in 1978, I decided to build chassis."

While he was getting his new chassis building business off and running, Haas was continuing to pursue his driving career. By 1984 he had claimed two American Hot Rod Association Pro Stock championships - - the first in 1981 and the second in '84. Between the end of the 1984 season and continuing through the decade of the 90s, Haas alternated between driver and chassis fabricator, sometimes handling both simultaneously. During that period Haas-built, Haas-owned, or Haas-driven cars served notice they would continue to set the standard for a long period to come.

Haas' driving duties and chassis building enterprises have always been intertwined. Says Haas of his double duty as both a driver and chassis fabricator, "Driving helps me know more about the cars and trucks I build and what other drivers and owners are talking about... you get a better feel of the chassis sitting behind the wheel."

In 1997 a new class, Pro Stock Truck, was emerging on the NHRA circuit. With his chassis shop flourishing, Haas, the unassuming craftsman and driver who has won an unprecedented 13 Car Craft All-Star Drag Racing Team Awards as Pro Stock Chassis Builder of the Year, took on a new opportunity. Jerry Haas and Jerry Haas Race Cars joined the groundswell of this upstart class. Haas drove his Chevy S-10 at events all across the country during the '97 exhibition season.

Then the 1997 exhibition gave way to head-to-head competition and official status as a professional NHRA category in 1998. During 1998, Haas finished in the fifth position in the Winston Pro Stock point standings. In addition to his driving duties, he continued to be the premiere truck builder in the newly created category. 1999 saw the Pro Stock Truck class begin to mature. When the dust had settled on the '99 season, the veteran driver had nailed down another top ten finish -- finishing at number ten.

For the start of the new millennium, Haas became a team owner, once again relinquished the driving seat - - first to Brad Jeter, then to Steven Farr. For the first half of 2001, Haas expanded to a two truck team with Matt Rhoades and Charlie Greco as drivers, but has now returned to take aim on the top ten once again in the remaining seven races left on the 2001 NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck schedule. The first stop will be National Trail Raceway.

The Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing at National Trail Raceway in Kirkersville, Ohio, just outside Columbus, will begin with Federal-Mogul qualifying on Thursday, June 14. Professional qualifying will take place Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16, with final eliminations on Sunday, June 17.

-JHRC

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Series NHRA
Drivers Brad Jeter , Matt Rhoades , Jerry Haas