The National Hot Rod Association is making wider changes to its Pro Stock category with the intention of opening it up to many more competitors.
After announcing earlier this year that Pro Stock would be relegated to eight-car fields for nine of 24 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series race meetings, NHRA backed off and decided to go with its usual and customary 16-car fields for all events on the 2018 calendar.
Today it tried even more fully to enhance this factory hot rod class, decreeing new rules for the class that could open it up to many more competitors. Glen Gray, NHRA’s VP of technical operations, made the announcement, stating his technical department has worked “very closely with the Pro Stock teams and vehicle manufacturers” in making the decision to accept any currently approved engine combination in any currently approved body, regardless of the manufacturer.
“The cooperation from all of those involved in the process was very encouraging and we look forward to the 2018 Pro Stock season,” Gray continued. The decision was announced in a letter to Pro Stock teams and could provide the class with a wider variety of entries. Chevrolet Camaro dominated this year, with just a single Dodge Dart entry in the 2017 Countdown to the Championship six-race playoffs.
NHRA said it is hoping to add more Dart and Ford Mustang racers to the paddock, as Chevy Camaros have won all but the 2012 championship, which went to Dodge Dart master Allen Johnson. Johnson retired at the close of the 2017 season.
In response, Jerry Haas, a prominent builder of Pro Stock entries for over four decades, explained that he’s had interest from prospective clients “wanting to run Mustangs, and I’m sure that as soon as the announcement gets out there, I’ll get more calls and interest in the Dodges, too.
“All three of the body styles - Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford - are so close aerodynamically that there’s no advantage or penalty for choosing your favorite. They’re all so close it’s unreal.”
There have been other drivers using Dodge’s Dart model over the past few years, including the retiring Johnson, Deric Kramer, Alan Prusiensky and V Gaines; the newest Mustang body has yet to make its NHRA debut but this decision could hasten that.
According to the NHRA rulebook, bodies must be from a 2009 or later NHRA-accepted 2- or 4-door coupe or sedan of domestic or foreign production. Minimum weight at the conclusion of a run remains at 2,350 pounds and the body, drivetrain, chassis, etc. may not be altered, modified or relocated, except as outlined in the rulebook.
The engine must be an internal combustion, reciprocating, naturally aspirated, single camshaft, 90-degree V8 with a maximum of 500 cubic inch (8.2 liters) displacement. Aftermarket blocks are permitted - if designed and cast with OEM approval and currently accepted by NHRA. What’s interesting here is that the engine does not need to be of the same corporate make as the body used in competition. This is a change from prior years; engines must always be approved by NHRA.
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