Pittman Closes Out Strong Sophomore Season with Runner-Up Effort in Shreveport. Shreveport, LA - Ups and downs; peaks and valleys: roller coaster ride - all of these descriptive little phrases, and a lot of others, have been used to describe the...
Pittman Closes Out Strong Sophomore Season with Runner-Up Effort in Shreveport.
Shreveport, LA - Ups and downs; peaks and valleys: roller coaster ride - all of these descriptive little phrases, and a lot of others, have been used to describe the trials and tribulations of the vast majority of drag racers who've paid their dues over the years. In the long run, most of them have survived and come back strong, something that Alan Pittman will undoubtedly do as well.
The 40 year-old chassis builder from Pelzer, South Carolina has already made great strides in just his second full season behind the wheel of Ken and Sylvia Westbrook's awesome supercharged 1941 Willys Pro Modified machine. He dominated in pre-season warm-up competition, and led the early charge for the Mopar Performance championship on the strength of wins at the season-opener at Rockingham and the Canadian event in Grand Bend, Ontario. Despite a mid-season bout of mechanical problems and a fire which seriously damaged the car, Pittman continued to thrill Pro Mod fans as he duked it out for supremacy against the category's newest superstar, fellow "blower guy" Mike Janis of Lancaster, New York.
Rolling in to Red River Raceway for the IHRA's Mopar Parts World Finals this weekend with the number two points position locked up, Pittman was anxious to close out the year the way he had started it - with a win. In the first qualifying session, he battled through tire-shake and rambled to 6.359 at 221.92 to establish a starting point for crew chief Darren Mayer's raceday tune-up. In the final attempt of the day, despite leaving a snake trail on his way down track, Pittman improved to number 10 with a mark of 6.327 at 222.95.
During the race-within-a-race Mopar Performance Parts Pro Modified Shootout that was held in conjunction with the Saturday qualifying sessions, Pittman defeated Ronnie Hood, but failed to improve his qualifying position with a pass of 6.346. The second round, which didn't count toward qualifying, saw Pittman rip off a 6.36 in a losing effort against Shannon Jenkins. His final attempt was the best of the bunch, the 6.279 at 224.36 bumping him up to the fifth spot.
On Sunday, Pittman set up and knocked down nitrous tough guys Ed Hoover, Quain Stott and Ronnie Hood enrote to a fitting final round confrontation with Janis. Since Janis had established a World Record ET mark of 6.11 at the previous stop in Budds Creek, Maryland, Pittman knew he had to gamble if he were to have a legitimate chance of taking the champ out. He deep-staged the red and silver coupe, but in spite of taking a slight advantage off the line, 0.431 to 0.444, Janis quickly reeled Pittman in, and at the top end it was the '63 Corvette from New York State doing it one more time, 6.236/228.85 to 6.374/224.06.
Pittman, Mayer, the Westbrooks, and all the rest of the team were pretty happy with the season as a whole, but as all competitive racers do, thought they would have had a shot at the championship if a few breaks had gone their way. But they have to consider the fact that they qualified well most of the time, made a big splash in NHRA Pro Mod exhibition events, won races and improved from tenth to second in points over what was without a doubt the toughest field of competitors ever assembled in the history of Pro Mod. Not bad for a second-year driver and team.
"We did pretty well in spite of having problems from time to time," Pittman mused philosophically. "Ken and Sylvia have been great, and I can't thank them enough for letting me get out there and mix it up with these guys. Darren worked his butt off keeping the horsepower dialed in race after race, and the rest of the crew has worked just as hard. I couldn't do it without them. A lot happened in Pro Mod this year, and I'm proud that we were able to hang in there and finish second. That makes our job pretty easy for 2002 - all we have to do is improve one spot!"
That will likely be the toughest "one spot" Pittman has ever tried to take, but of the handful of teams with the potential to accomplish the feat, Alan Pittman and the Westbrook Motorsports gang have to be considered among the top contenders for the title next year. It should be great to watch.
For more information on Westbrook Motorsports, visit their website at www.westbrookmotorsports.com, or log into drag racing's largest Internet magazine at www.competitionplus.com.