Pro Mod: Englishtown preview

Big Apple's Mortgage Banker Mike Ashley races Pro Mod at Englishtown ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 16, 2004) -- The fifth of ten events on the NHRA AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge, an NHRA exhibition class, unfolds June 18-20 as part of the 35th...

Big Apple's Mortgage Banker Mike Ashley races Pro Mod at Englishtown

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 16, 2004) -- The fifth of ten events on the NHRA AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge, an NHRA exhibition class, unfolds June 18-20 as part of the 35th annual K&N Filters SuperNationals presented by Strauss Discount Auto at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.

New York's Mike Ashley will temporally give up his day job as a mortgage banker to participate in this weekend's action. The executive for Lend America, one of Long Island's largest mortgage banking firms with over 275 employees and 25 offices, has reached the pinnacle of his drag racing career at age 39.

Ashley dreamed of being a race car driver since watching his first race at the age of four. A little over three decades later Ashley, holding steadfast to a principle that mandates positive thinking and hard work will inspire an individual to reach goals they previously had only considered unattainable, admits that he is living his dream every time he straps into his supercharged, 2,500 horsepower Pro Mod car.

This philosophy has provided Ashley with dream after dream come true. Since he entered his first IHRA Top Sportsman event in 1987, Ashley's view has always been on the big picture. Ashley's business philosophy runs parallel to his racing philosophy: treat racing as a business and in time the investment will yield rewards.

"You absolutely have to treat it like a business," said Ashley. "It's all about the marketing aspect of the sport. There used to be a day when drag racers would pull alongside one another and just race. Now, you have sponsors and they supplement a large portion of the expenses we incur. They expect a return on their investment and that's up to us to deliver..."

Ashley has been delivering since he entered Pro Mod in 1990 and immediately set the standard for cars of the new crowd-pleasing class.

Through a marketing partnership with Unique Performance, a muscle car restoration company whose line of automobiles has been endorsed by automotive legend Carroll Shelby, and InfiNet Insurance, the nation's most successful MGA and provider of insurance and administrative services, the one car team has today grown to two Pro Mod cars and a Pro Stock Bike, which competes on the 15-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

In 2004, Ashley, by his own admission, has had an up and down season in the four events contested thus far on the NHRA AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge.

"We did a lot of testing in the off season because we wanted to have our act together for this year, " reflected Ashley. "We wanted to make a serious run at the DRO/NMM Cup, our version of the Pro Mod point championship. "So as a result of that testing, we came out and were real consistent at Gainesville (Fla.) and won the next race in Houston. Then, I think we got a little greedy.

"We started to play around with different blower (supercharger) combinations at Bristol (Tenn.) and got away from our game and didn't qualify. So we went back to our original set up for Chicago and qualified number two and went to the semifinals, which was good. Now we're looking forward to Englishtown."

Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown is where Ashley cut his teeth on drag racing.

"Englishtown is my home track," said Ashley, a fan favorite at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. "It means a lot to me. It's where I had my first real success in professional drag racing. I won my first event there, an USSC (United States Super Circuit) event. It's a very important venue for me.

"But there's a new game at Englishtown for all the supercharged Pro Mod cars. The rules have changed and the blower overdrive has been reduced from 25-percent to 20-percent."

The percent of overdrive is how much faster you can spin the supercharger than the crankshaft. So, 25-percent over means you're spinning the supercharger 25-percent faster than the crank. Anytime you take percentage away you reduce the speed of the supercharger, thus in essence reducing the boost. Boost equates to horsepower so you're reducing horsepower and performance.

"The real problem I have with the change is that all the testing that I did prior to the start of the season throws a curve at us," added Ashley. "Now we've got to rethink our whole combination. It not only changes the power, it changes the power curve and that effects gear ratios, clutch and a number of other things. It's not like we can look back at previous history. Last year when we were here we were at 29 over. Since leaving here we've gone to 25 over and now when we come back, we're 20 over.

"We're not going to let the pressure get to us. We're going to go out there with our game face on, start with a basic setup and try and do well for our hometown fans. There will be a lot of family there. Also, a lot of employees from my company will be attending and I always look forward to meeting both old and new fans from the northeast."

Last year at Englishtown, Ashley advanced to the final round before finishing runner up. This year, with the expansion to a two car team and the addition of Danny Rowe as teammate, Ashley's Gotham City Racing team will come at the field with both barrels.

"I know it has been said many times over, but we're going to take each race one round at a time and that includes both the qualifying rounds and the elimination rounds. Englishtown will be no exception. We want to win the DRO/NMM Cup championship. That's our goal," concluded Ashley.

Qualifying for all Pro Mod cars begins Friday with two sessions at 3 and 6 p.m., followed by two sessions on Saturday at 2 and 5 p.m. Eliminations for all classes get underway on Sunday at 11 a.m. All times are subject to change and reflect Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).


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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Ashley , Danny Rowe