Pro Modified pioneer Mike Ashley returns to competition

Ashley Hoping To Return To Front-runner Status W. BABYLON, NY - Mike Ashley is learning the hard way that the class that he helped pioneer has a tough shell to crack, especially if you have been away almost a decade. The Melville, NY-based ...

Ashley Hoping To Return To Front-runner Status

W. BABYLON, NY - Mike Ashley is learning the hard way that the class that he helped pioneer has a tough shell to crack, especially if you have been away almost a decade. The Melville, NY-based mortgage banker has returned to full-time status within the Pro Modified category, a class that he once battled Tim McAmis, Fred Hahn and the legendary Ronnie Sox for the inaugural World Championship.

Ashley has resumed his involvement on the IHRA/Summit Racing tour with longtime friend and engine builder Matt Grillo in hopes of re-establishing himself. He campaigns a beautiful 1957 Chevy that carries the livery of the legendary comic-inspired town of Gotham City and a well-known caped crusader. However, the road has been tough for the Ashley & Grillo Racing team.

"I don't care what anyone says about drag racing," smiles Ashley, who is an original member of both the six-second and 200-mile per hour doorslammer clubs. "This sport is fifty-percent skill and the other half is luck. I know it is going to take a while and I am very much aware that we have to repay our dues again. It will come back around and I'm very much certain that we'll have what it takes to answer the challenge in the long run."

Ashley has failed to make the cut at the last two IHRA national events. His shortcomings have worked more as a motivating factor than a morale killer.

"It's tough to go out there and not qualify," Ashley added. "I am planning to do some testing and run the wheels off of the thing if I have to until I get it right. Once you get a taste of success in this class, it's very tough to settle for less than that."

In his early days of Pro Modified, Ashley actually had a chance to win the inaugural championship, but fouled against Sox in the finals of the 1990 season ending Fall Nationals in Bristol, Tenn. Ashley finished the season, 151 points out of first place. He'd reached the finals thrice; his only win coming at the Spring Nationals, also hosted by Thunder Valley Dragway in Bristol.

The union of the two longtime friends has worked perfectly for benefit of this team. Ashley now runs the highly successful New York-based Consumer Home Mortgage banking firm and has become a highly successful company. Grillo, on the other hand, has developed a reputation as building top name racing engines and his Lizzard Racing shop continues to grow at a steady and phenomenal rate.

Ashley admits that he is a lot different these days than when he decided to step away from the racing scene.

"I was burned out," explained Ashley, who recalled his departure from the sport in the early-Nineties. "I took some time away and I worked hard to re-establish my business and everything. I've learned that you have to put your priorities in order. I let my racing outrank my business and in the long run, that hurt me. When I decided I wanted to race, Matt and I sat down and we talked. We both decided that we wanted to return to racing. I couldn't have asked for a better partner in the racing."

The team hopes to make the next stop, which is the CARQUEST Northern Nationals in Stanton, MI., but their appearance is not written in concrete. However, as Grillo adds, "If we aren't up to full potential, we'll do plenty of testing until we do. I don't care what it takes. We're not going to go to a national event and embarrass ourselves. The national events are for the teams that have already settled into their groove and are hammering out runs good enough to be in the field. We can't deliver that at present, but we will soon."

Ashley adds, "When we do get there, it's going to be sweet."

For more information on Mike Ashley's Consumer Home Mortgage Business, visit their website at www.consumer-home.com. Grillo's Lizzard Racing website can be accessed at www.lizzardracing.com.

For more on Mike Ashley and the sport of drag racing turn to the Internet's largest E-zine at www.competitionplus.com.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Drag
Drivers Fred Hahn , Mike Ashley , Tim McAmis