VON SMITH READY FOR TITLE DEFENSE AS NHRA GET SCREENED AMERICA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES OPENS IN GAINESVILLE
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It’s been four months since Pro Mod world champion Von Smith raised the Wally trophy in Las Vegas in October.
Four months since the confetti and fireworks that followed the crowning of the first world champion in the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
But that hasn’t kept Smith from the drag strip, no matter where in the world he’s at.
As the 2011 NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series prepares to kick off at the season-opening event, the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, March 10-13, Smith may very well be the most race-ready driver in the series.
While most drivers were busy preparing parts and securing sponsorships for the 2011 season, Smith was battling for yet another championship, competing overseas in the Pro Extreme category of the Arabian Drag Racing league—a category where he again won the title.
“It was a great experience,” Smith said. “We really struggled for the first two races there, then went to three finals in a row and won the championship. It really was a repeat of the season we had over here.”
But while most drivers prefer the four month off-season, Smith feels that the time spent in Qatar competing against different drivers and on different tracks and surfaces is just the type of variety that will help him secure his second NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod world championship.
“Honestly, we knew we were underdogs going over there,” Smith said. “It was a different tune-up and we were so behind, but we had the same mentality as we did while competing for the (NHRA) Pro Mod world championship and it really came together. But I worry that we may be behind a bit because our tune up will be so completely different from our car in Qatar. But this team will not quit, no matter what.”
As the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series prepares for its sophomore season, Smith agrees that 2011 will bring some of the tightest competition and closest race finishes the series has seen.
“I think it’s possible for any team to step up this season,” Smith said. “Danny Rowe and Jay Payne will be strong. (Roger) Burgess, (Mike) Knowles, and Melanie (Troxel) should have a good season. They’ll all do very well. It should be a competitive year.”
In addition to Smith, other pre-race favorites in the category are defending event winner Kenny Lang, 2010 U.S. Nationals winner Brad Personett, and 2010 Charlotte winner Melanie Troxel.
Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars with an extremely diverse collection of vehicles, including ’63 Corvettes, ’68 Camaros, ’67 Mustangs, ’68 Firebirds as well as late model cars, the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast.
The Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals will also serve as the kickoff celebration for the 60th anniversary of NHRA. Drag racing legend “Big Daddy” Don Garlits will be on hand to sign autographs, meet fans, and participate in the festivities.
• SCHEDULE: Get Screened America qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on March 11 and at 12:45 p.m. on March 12. The first round of Pro Mod eliminations begins on March 12 at 3:15 p.m. Pro Mod eliminations resume on March 13.
• TICKETS: Tickets are available for the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals. Please call NHRA at (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRATIX.com to purchase tickets online.
• ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 30-minutes of racing highlights from the Get Screened America Pro Mod Series portion of the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals on Saturday, March 20 at midnight (ET).
• ON THE WEB: Get live timing, scoring, multimedia and the latest news updates from every NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Series event on the Internet at www.nhra.com. Visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.