FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Anthony Vestal IHRA Motorsports (423) 764-1164 December 19, 1997 Jenkins takes Pro Mod title despite multiple obstacles BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Shannon Jenkins may look back at his 1997 IHRA Snap-on Tools Drag ...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Anthony Vestal IHRA Motorsports (423) 764-1164
December 19, 1997
Jenkins takes Pro Mod title despite multiple obstacles
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Shannon Jenkins may look back at his 1997 IHRA Snap-on Tools Drag Racing Series World Championship trophy one day and wonder just how he pulled it off. Indeed, it was an incredible feat. Not only was he caught in an emotional on-track battle with best friend and former teammate Tommy Mauney down the stretch, he also had to outrun a variety of improved racers in his division -- most of whom he helped gain nitrous system knowledge -- to earn the Pro Modified World Championship. However, winning races turned out to be the least of his problems. With over 50 entries trying for 16 spots at each event, simply qualifying was the biggest obstacle. At the start of 1997 Jenkins admitted that with only eight national events, a driver couldn't afford to miss a single race if he wanted a shot at the championship. As it turned out, Jenkins missed two races. Even though he proved himself wrong, Jenkins wouldn't have taken that bet at the start of the season. "I would still say that it couldn't be done," the 42-year-old Tuscaloosa, Ala. resident said with a laugh. "The performance level was there. It was never a question. It was just unfortunate that we didn't qualify for those races. It wasn't anything that we did, it was just a problem in the car on those given days. When we did qualify, we seemed to always advance to the final round." Jenkins won four events and made two semi-final appearances in six events. Considering his winning record when he did qualify for races, his circumstance was a rarity in motorsports. "The car is one of the best ever in Pro Modified as far as I'm concerned," said Jenkins of his purple and white 1941 Willys. "The program that the Parsons Brothers have put together is one of the best, too. If a team was going to beat us, they were going to have to run hard." Jenkins, who got his start in professional racing in the round-track variety, earned the Snap-on Wrench of the Year award while helping Mauney win the 1995 Pro Mod championship. He finished third in Pro Mod points in 1994 and second in 1995. He says everything started to click with his nitrous program in late '94, when he won two races near the end of the season driving for car owner Norman Estes. "Norman decided not to return in '95, so I took what I knew and went to work for Mauney and we won the championship," Jenkins said. "We kept tuning on it, constantly working with the tune-up. During each off-season we found some things, and we'll do that again this year. The only thing that will be different this off-season, is that what I find -- it will be sacred." Jenkins admits that he is somewhat responsible for much of the parity in the division today. He never said 'no' when a fellow racer came to ask advice. But now, he said his philosophy on that subject has changed somewhat. The division has become so competitive that some secrets are necessary. "When you help other guys, then those guys help other guys and all of a sudden it gets spread around that way," he said. "Everybody knows who's running well, and they'll go there for some help if they aren't exactly running great. There's probably not a lot of guys in this sport who really understands how nitrous works. They just buy the motor and the setup." Jenkins says his knowledge has not been bought. "What I've got, I've worked for," he said. "Nobody has ever came to me and told me anything about nitrous. I've learned the hard way. I've laid under cars and put pistons in 'em after every round. When you go about it that way, you either learn the hard way, or quit." At times during the season he felt like he had created his own enemy. "It's real frustrating," he said. "We had to work a lot harder. We knew we needed to make a perfect run when we got to the starting line or we could be beat by something we produced. It aggravates you more than anything." Jenkins' winning nitrous setup comes from Barry Grant's Nitrous Works. Jenkins switched from longtime supplier NOS to Grant's system at the beginning of the year. He gets his engines from Spartanburg, S.C.-based Gene Fulton. "Barry has given us a good, competitive program," Jenkins said. "Part of the reason I went with the new program is so I could separate my program from everybody else's. We'll work with this combination all winter and get ready for 1998. I think we'll be faster." Jenkins will officially accept his IHRA Snap-on Tools Pro Modified World Championship during the IHRA Championship Awards Banquet, to be held Jan. 17 at the Grove Park Inn, Asheville, N.C. Keep up with all the latest IHRA news and information on the internet with IHRA OnLine at www.ihra.com.