Series supporter Roger Burgess brings a fresh vision and promise of stability to NHRA Pro Mod racing that has the best door-slammers in the world jockeying for a spot to race.
This weekend's season-opening event of the Get Screened America Pro Mod Challenge presented by ProCare Rx at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., will feature 21 of the very best Pro Mod racers in the world: past champions, up-and-comers, and those anxious to win the first Get Screened America "Warrior" trophy.
Leading the list of contenders is defending event champion Joe Baker and runner-up Ray Commisso, reigning IHRA champion Kenny Lang, and former Pro Mod Challenge world champions Jay Payne (2006) and Shannon Jenkins (2002).
Commisso is fresh from a stellar final tune-up weekend at the IHRA event in Baton Rouge where he qualified No. 1, set a speed record, and won the event.
"Roger [Burgess, Commisso's teammate] and I both have incredible hotrods with Al Billes horsepower, and with last weekend as a benchmark, watch out," he said.
Defending event champion Joe Baker is up for the challenge.
"The cars coming to Gainesville this weekend are really the best of the best, and I know that Chuck Ford has been working hard all winter long to assure that we'll have what it takes to get into the winner's circle," Baker said. "Everyone is going to have to bring their 'A' game to this race - and all of them this season, because there won't be any easy rounds."
Brad Personett will represent the turbo-powered fraternity, and Mike Castellana will head up the nitrous contingent, featuring the formidable Al Anabi stable including Jenkins, 2001 Gatornationals winner Rickie Smith, and Burton Auxier.
Payne has two wins at Gainesville Raceway -- in 2005 and 2006 -- and the California-based team backed and tuned by legendary racer and engine-builder Brad Anderson will also feature Rick Stivers.
"Brad has found a lot of power over the winter on the dyno and both Jay and I are looking to put it to the test," Stivers said. "If anyone can build a winning team and run winning cars, it's Brad, and he's overdue to get back into the winner's circle."
Notably missing from the line-up are the pair of two-time world champions, Mike Ashley and Josh Hernandez. Ashley is sponsoring Joe Baker from his Lend America/Matco Tools stable, while Hernandez has passed on quarter-mile competition for the season, settling for eighth-mile battles in his National Guard livery.