Budds Creek, MD - On the IHRA Pro Mod tour, some folks refer to Al Billes' Canadian-based hot rod as the "Studbreaker", which seems pretty harmless, until it starts to live up to its name, that is. Actually a sleek, supercharged 1953 Studebaker,...
Budds Creek, MD - On the IHRA Pro Mod tour, some folks refer to Al Billes' Canadian-based hot rod as the "Studbreaker", which seems pretty harmless, until it starts to live up to its name, that is. Actually a sleek, supercharged 1953 Studebaker, the former world record holder from Barrie, Ontario and its pilot have had their more than their share of highs and lows this season. Much of that, undoubtedly, due to the game of rushin' rule-ette played at the IHRA head office in mid season.
With all that sorted out for the time being, and the supercharged cars slowly rising back into competitive stature, Billes was looking forward to a strong finish; something to propel the Canadian team into the 2001 season on a high note. At the previous event, the Amalie Oil Northern Nationals at Epping, NH, it looked for a while like this was going to be the way the scenario was going to play out. Billes ran his first "20" of the year and qualified in the number two position. In the first round of eliminations, however, severe tire shake ended the renewed charge before it really began.
At the President's Cup Nationals this weekend at Maryland International Raceway, the blower cars were again on the hunt, with the top five cars in the record 6.413 field sporting compressors. Billes sat in the ninth spot, his first qualifying shot of 6.365/224.77 being his top effort in the preliminaries. With cool temperatures and moderate humidity favoring the blower cars, however, Billes had an opportunity to log some rounds as he lined up next to Ronnie Hood's nitrous-aided Corvette in the first stanza.
At the green, the Billes-built powerplant under the Stude's hood went critical, spitting and popping as it undoubtedly digested a few studs, and possibly quite a bit more, in the process. Usually in a case like this, a driver will just shrug and say "that's racing", but you know it has to hurt, in the gut and in the wallet. But with two more races to go in the 2000 IHRA series, we'll undoubtedly see the Billes crew and the bright yellow "studbreaker" back in action. And, just to be on the safe side, maybe a change in nicknames would be a wise move, too.
Watch for the Canadians as they fight to improve their final standings at the Mopar World Finals at Shreveport, LA on October 12-14 and the rescheduled CARQUEST Autumn Nationals in Rockingham on November 4-5.