How to win a Wally. That’s a question that many drag racers that have competed in the NHRA have asked themselves plenty of times. Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series driver and team owner Roger Burgess is no different.
Sure, he’s seen dozens of drivers that compete and have competed for him over the years take home the elusive trophy. He’s watched as team drivers such as Melanie Troxel and Brad Personett scored their first wins in the category, taking home their first Wallys for Pro Mod competition. He himself has even raced to victories in the Pro Mod class, including the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. But those were exhibition wins where the elusive Wally was not awarded.
Now, as the Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series makes its fourth stop of the season, the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, May 13-15, watching just isn’t enough anymore for Burgess.
"It’s going to be exciting to earn a Wally. That will be neat, for sure," Burgess said. "You know, as a team owner I’m very fortunate because we have some great drivers here and we’ve experienced our share of wins already. I can’t imagine being any more excited when I win than I was when Melanie won Charlotte last year, or when Micke (Gillqvist) won in Atlanta last season. We truly area a team here and we share in all the highs and lows as a group."
In these first three races of the 2011 season, Burgess has shown that his ProCare Rx ’53 Corvette is a contender for the world championship, posting the quickest time of the event at the season opening race in Gainesville, the second stop on the schedule in Las Vegas and the third stop of the season in Houston. A No. 1 qualifier and semifinal round finish at Las Vegas, followed up with another No. 1 qualifier in Houston has kept Burgess competitive in an already tight class.
"Khalid Balooshi is certainly off to a great start,” Burgess said. “Rickie Smith is a past world champion, so is Jay Payne and Von Smith. Danny Rowe, Kenny Lang, Ed Hoover, Scott Ray…the list goes on and on. We have a wide open fight this year."
But Burgess hopes that his success in the Pro Mod series will not just be measured in what he does behind the wheel as a driver, but also what he accomplishes as a team owner in the series.
"Brad Personett is a threat to not only win but set a world record every time he makes a pass," Burgess said. "We know what Micke, Melanie, and Raymond (Commmisso) can do. Melanie is switching to a car that runs the same turbo set-up we have in my car so she’s going to be really fast. Our R2B2 Racing cars should all be in the mix."
Burgess will have his hands full as the series heads to the Georgia. Pro Mod points leader Balooshi has swept the first two events of the season in his Speedtech ’68 Camaro, and defending world champion Von Smith is always a top contender in the series. 2010 Charlotte winner Melanie Troxel is also in the hunt for her first win this season.
Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars with an extremely diverse collection of vehicles, including ’63 Corvettes, ’68 Camaros, ’67 Mustangs, ’68 Firebirds as well as late model cars, the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast.
The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals will also be part of the 60th anniversary celebration of NHRA. Legendary Pro Stock driver Warren Johnson will be on hand to sign autographs, meet fans, and participate in the festivities.