NHRA Tinkers with Pro Stock. Again.

NHRA Tinkers with Pro Stock. Again.

Give NHRA some credit – they’re trying to fix the issues they created with Pro Stock, which has lost popularity since the inception of the electronic fuel injection era two years ago. At that time, body styles changed when the intake was moved from atop the cowling to the base of the front end, making the cars’ body styles more streamlined.

There was a lot of expense involved in changing Pro Stock to meet NHRA’s new criteria; one of the few items they kept in place was the requirement that a car be of 2009 or later vintage, whether domestic or foreign. The cars may be 2- or 4-door coupes or sedans, and minimum weight with driver at the end of the round remains 2,350 pounds.

Everything else is changed.

In a letter sent to competitors by Glen Gray, NHRA’s vice president of technical operations, NHRA stated that the technical department worked “very closely with Pro Stock teams and vehicle manufacturers to accept any currently approved engine combination in any currently approved body, regardless of the manufacturer.”

Since 2012, there have only been Chevrolet champions and, for the past few years, it’s been Summit Racing domination, with Jason Line earning the title last year and Bo Butner earning his first championship in 2017. Allen Johnson, who retired after the 2017 season after racing with Mopar his entire 22-year career, won the title in 2012 for Mopar, driving a Dodge Dart; his was the sole non-Chevy entrant in the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs this year.

NHRA is hoping to bring more Dodge Dart entries and, perhaps, invite more Ford Mustangs to the fray. Recent Dodge Dart entries have included Johnson, Deric Kramer, Alan Prusiensky and V Gaines. The latest Mustang body has yet to make its NHRA debut – but this decision could mean more Fords and Dodges in the Pro Stock paddock.

Jerry Haas, who’s been building Pro Stock bodies for four decades, has had interest from clients wanting to run Mustang bodies. “I’m sure that as soon as the announcement gets out there,” he said, “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 so close it’s unreal.”

NHRA mandates Pro Stock internal combustion V-8 engines that have a single camshaft, 90-degree heads (45-degree max) that have a maximum of 500 cubic-inch displacement. If designed and cast with OEM approval and currently accepted by NHRA, aftermarket blocks are permitted. The sanction removed a requirement that the engine be of the same corporate make as the body used in competition, meaning a Chevy engine could run in a Mustang body.

Whether these actions result in added competitors in the factory hot rod class will be revealed in pre-season testing and when the 2018 campaign begins at Pomona in February of next year. Will it make smaller teams more competitive, or will fans see 16 Chevrolet-powered cars of different body styles racing within a couple hundredths of each other?

About Anne Proffit 16 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.
  • Dick Hudnet

    I don’t even watch NHRA anymore. And I consider myself to be a hard core racer at my level. I’ve also switched my allegiance to IHRA for various reasons. Lost total interest in NHRA.

    • Robert Harrison

      My sentiments, EXACTLY !

  • George Polidoro Jr

    They still don’t get it and so nothing will change. They may get a few of the RICH dodge and ford teams, but this crap isn’t racing like the masses watch. More empty seats ……BORING!!

    • Robert Harrison

      YEP ! NHRA shot themselves in the foot again ! I never heard of anything so ridiculous ! I wonder what the “Big 3” thinks of this insanity?

      • Jordan

        Do you think Ford?Chrysler would back one of their cars running GM power? Not a chance. Small teams, no money, might.

  • Do rag

    If they were smart, they’d let pro stock be an unlimited naturally aspirated gasoline only class.

  • tunnelportterror .

    they need to allow any engine in any American body style, 1949 to present.
    then it will get very interesting. carbs or injection, your choice. naturally aspirated 500 cid.

    • RickyB

      That class is already in existence, it is called Pro Mod.

      • Packer Fan In Kansas

        This is the class to watch; Pro Mod. I attend three to four races a year (TEC) and the stand empty at the start of P/S. Those who endure through P/S, including myself, stay to watch the Pro Mod. That is your any body. Any engine. Any fuel consumption.

        • David Lee

          except if it has a blower stickin up through the hood/body, then there is usually a magneto at a 45 degree angle ALSO sticking out that same hood. Mopar or no car.
          And PM does not have a 500 cid limit. All those guys running Sonny 632s and up, with huge Nitrous geysers before they run, would back me up on that, at least, right, TR?

          • Packer Fan In Kansas

            I agree. Just making a point that if they are not going to keep the same manufacture body and engine, then hang-up P/S and go full blown with Pro Mod.

      • un known

        That’s the new Pro Stock.

  • Mike Hicks

    I agree with other commenters. I generally quit watching NHRA years ago. But always found Pro Stock interesting until recently. Pro Stock is based on street driven cars so I’m ok with fuel injection.
    I don’t know the answer, but one thing I am sure of is that it is over regulated. They need to open this class up to innovation. Maybe allow choice of FI or Carb. Allow overhead cams meaning Ford modular engines, etc. NHRA is stuck in the past just as NASCAR is with they’re old design engines, etc. Let the creativity run loose for awhile. This is what originally made NHRA.

  • Kent

    One thing you can count on is they probably won’t listen to the ideas and comments made by the people who buy tickets. The GM influence got what they wanted (all GM) but the class is dead as a result. General Motors domination of Drag racing is not good because all people have to root for is a driver. If they don’t bring back the brand rivalries the sport will continue it’s slow death.

  • racerz

    the real Pro Stock is sitting and waiting for someone to wise up. They are all the COPO Camaros, Mustangs and Challeners/Chargers just waiting for a proper rules package. Then you could fill a 32 car field no problem with many non-qualifiers.

  • RickyB

    What is needed….. any aftermarket block that is brand specific, such as Brodix or Dart for Chevy or C and C Motorsports for Ford. Same with cylinder heads, any aftermarket heads that are brand specific but no billet heads or blocks, cast aluminum only. This would open up engine combos that would also be brand matched to the body used, for Chevy, Ford and Mopar. The problem is also the way the rules are written, reading that you must be able to buy blocks and cylinder heads from the manufacturer, as I believe the rules still state this, if they do not, someone could build a Ford engine for example, using the latest heads from Pro filer or other aftermarket cylinder head manufacturers.

    • David Lee

      Down with it, your way. The class was intended to determine the engine & body combination that has the most performance potential. As produced back in the day, before weight breaks (whether punitive or otherwise is an argument for another day) that combination was hemi-Ebody, then hemi-Abody. Ever since then, it has been more and more about “the show” and far less about brand loyalty or who’s combo is best. Their new iteration has 0 brand loyalty as its founding principle. How’s that worked out for you, so far? It’s the combo, stupid!!

      If KB goes with a 5.0 b/s Gen III block and heads in their new cast version, or Kaase goes nuts with the shotgun or some new iteration of the 351C-429, or, God help us, Jason or Ray ply their wares with a fat head Gen II motor, then look the ‘blank’ out! A DRAG RACE might break out!

      • David Lee

        Not taking anything away from Bob G. He flat RULED. Without being a total butt-head about it.

      • un known

        I agree 100%

  • Matt Taravella

    HUGE mistake, nobody wants to see a Chevy engine in a Ford or a Mopar. I will give up on Pro Stock if they keep this stupid rule.

  • Chuck Wiggins

    NHRA Has gone the way of NASJOKE!!! NOTHING “STOCK” ABOUT IT!!!! NO BBchevy was ever put in a car with a 5 in bore spacing!!! SPEC CARS!!! SPEC MOTORS = IROC= D E A D RACING!!!!!!

  • five17

    Pro Stock was always sold as factory Hot Rod’s. Hopefully this new twist will kill Pro Stock in it’s currently configuration once and for all. NHRA has their head up their A$$ FSS is the real Pro Stock.

  • Jerry

    I quit watching NHRA a few years ago, and thought I would take a peak until I heard Mopar or Ford’s would possibly be running GM engines…no thanks! As much as I love watching racing NHRA needs to just go away! I hope someone is listening…pro stock sucks, and is boring as heck!

  • Jerry

    MOPAR or no car for me…sorry!

  • Justbozo

    If any of you whiners are old enough to remember the beginnings of the F/C class, and before it was a class, this move in P/S kind of parallels those days.
    I recall that then there were those bemoaning the fact that their favorite Chevy or Ford had a hemi between the rails, but it kept the body styles competitive. To look at F/C now I would have to say the class survived! P/S has been around a long time without massive amounts of evolution.
    The day will come when the COPO cars will have there class, but can it be shoehorned in the pro program? Or will it be a headliner for the Lucas league. Myself I believe it to be a much better fit on the division level for economics and car counts.
    I cannot wait to see all the brands running doorhandle to doorhandle!

  • bart adkins

    NASCAR= Toyota Cup , pro stock = Chevy crap Cup

  • un known

    As long as you do what you are suggesting, Pro Stock will continue to explode to be nothing. Why can’t a team run after market blocks and heads, considering house made intakes were never frowned on. Besides that was what a team had, among other things that made them different. All chevy motor cars isn’t the answer.Goodby Pro Stock. Head get a head.Ronnie.

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