Drag Illustrated’s Big Day at PRI: 30 Under 30 and World Series of Pro Mod

26 of the 30 Under 30 recipients were present to receie their prizes - Alex Owens/Auto Imagery photo
26 of the 30 Under 30 recipients were present to receie their prizes – Alex Owens/Auto Imagery photo

Drag Illustrated showcased its eighth annual 30 Under 30 class during the Performance Racing Industry show (PRI) in Indianapolis the first week of December, allowing all new members of the class to be recognized for their drag racing achievements that allowed the group to gain their honors. In addition to the obligatory 30 Under 30 black jackets, each honoree received at minimum four bags of goodies from the myriad number of sponsors that support this endeavor.

Of the 30, fully 26 walked to the stage in the crowded two-room gathering, feted by friends and family as each gathered their prizes. Special recognition went to a single recipient, 2023 PDRA Extreme Pro Stock champion Alan Drinkwater, whose name was drawn to receive Lincoln Welders’ TIG welder, together with ancillaries necessary to use the equipment, including a classroom session.

In addition, the JCM Racing driver development class of Jr Dragster drivers was celebrated during this presentation.

JCM Racing’s Jr Dragster driver development group was recognized – Alex Owens/Auto Imagery phoro

As magazine founder Wes Buck noted, there are at least 420 North American tracks available for drag racing and that number keeps improving, helping the sport to thrive. For his first class of 30 Under 30 achievers, Buck said he had about 1,800 nominations, while in 2023, there were nearly 6,900 different racers, public relations personnel, track workers and others in the sport that were nominated to be recognized for their achievements in straight-line racing.

Buck also presented the plans for this coming year’s World Series of Pro Mod that takes place at Bradenton Motorsports Park the first weekend of March. In 2023, the gathering saw nearly 14,000 fans show up to watch 61 cars compete. There were no crashes during the three-day meet and, as Buck noted, it took less than an hour and 15 minutes to get them qualified. He said he’d have sponsor announcements fr the 2024 event in the coming days as his team prepares for another trip to central Florida.

The World Series of Pro Mod panel discussed last year’s race – Anne Proffit photo

Victor Alvarez of Bradenton Motorsports Park was on-hand and enthusiastic about the upcoming season at the track, which was repaved last year and will get similar treatment before the season begins; the scoring signs are being moved away from the track to make it easier to see them when quarter-mile passes are performed and other updates are planned. “Bradenton is changing,” Alvarez noted, “but we expect to be around for a very long time.”

Last year’s race was won by the 32nd qualifier, Canadian Spencer Hyde, who saw his career catapult after earning the victory (and the money that went with it, of course). Hyde, who was on the 2021 30 Under 30 list, was invited to race in the NHRA season finale at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip last year and impressed many with his proficiency in the powerful Top Fuel category. Still, “Just getting invited and qualifying for the World Series of Pro Mod was huge for my career,” he said.

Runner-up Jason Harris said the tech in Pro Mod, which is one of the fastest-growing straight-line classes around the world, means “drivers have to their job. It’s a tough deal to race Pro Mod and just being invited to compete in this race is huge because of the enormity of this race.” He was joined on the stage by Lyle Barnett, who reminded everyone that you “don’t have to have the fastest car to win the race – as Hyde proved – because the lure of this event is so tremendous. Pro Mod,” he said, “is the hottest it’s ever been and it’s a hell of a show!”

Once again, FloRacing will provide streaming and Buck stated his happiness with the production values seen during the 2023 edition, expecting to see more of the same when invited racers reconvene in Bradenton March 1-3, 2024.

About Anne Proffit 1224 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.

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