Spring Open Friday report

Al Billes unleashes a 6.112, 229.74 as Pro Modified regains their thunder DINWIDDIE, Va. - All it took was for Pro Stock to show off on Thursday for the Pro Modifieds to get jealous. In the end, and we mean that literally, Canadian Al Billes...

Al Billes unleashes a 6.112, 229.74 as Pro Modified regains their thunder

DINWIDDIE, Va. - All it took was for Pro Stock to show off on Thursday for the Pro Modifieds to get jealous. In the end, and we mean that literally, Canadian Al Billes made them all green with envy. The aerospace engineer from Barrie, Ontario, equaled the elapsed time world record with a 6.112 and coupled it with a speed of 229.74 miles per hour. The interesting tidbit about Billes' run is that he has never run a teen. He went from the 6.20s to the 6.11 in one fell swoop.

He was astonished with his great fortune.

"We did a lot of engine work over the winter, and it paid off today," explained Billes. "We came out here with a new engine, gear ratio and clutch and the whole deal. We struggled early and couldn't even get off the starting line. We took baby steps and then went to the sixty-foot and then the eighth-mile. We wanted to try and get at least one full lap on the car."

The incredible part about the whole run was that it was the first full run under power on the new Murray Anderson-built 1953 Studebaker.

"We were in a hurry to get up there to run and they had announced that the lanes were going to close in ten minutes," added Billes. "We raced up there and got in. I did the burnout and when my crewman went to turn on the computer, he realized that we had forgotten it. I shut the car off and he ran back to the pits and got it. I did the burnout and away we went."

Billes could not say enough about the IHRA's premiere test session at Virginia Motorsports Park.

"This event has been crucial to us and helped us big time," Billes continued. "Going into Rockingham like this, we would have been a non-qualifier. We only make about 40 or 50 runs a year. We just made 20 percent of the runs that we made last year. This is an awesome deal and I'm glad to have been a part of it."

The Billes success was not limited to his current machinery. Just weeks prior to the event, Pro Modified pioneer Mike Ashley purchased his previously owned 1953 Studebaker. Delays in getting his 1941 Willys forced him to go to "Plan B."

In just his third run behind the wheel of the newly acquired machine, Ashley blasted out a 6.202, 221.92. The history books will show that the New York mortgage banker was the top qualifier at the inaugural Pro Modified event in March of 1990.

"My team helped make this transition possible," explained Ashley. "I was about as nervous as a man could be before my first run and as happy as I could be after my last one. I thought to myself before Al made his run, 'Wow, I'm actually the quickest guy here. But, you know what - Al and his crew deserved this day and I'm happy for them."

The third quickest entry belonged to Mitch Stott as he turned out a 6.237, 228.15.

The quickest nitrous entry belonged to Steve Vick as he reeled off a 6.319, 219.19.

-hc-

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Series Drag
Drivers Al Billes , Mike Ashley