The True History of Pro Modified

by Becky White

  Answer to the Question: Who Has Been the Most Important Influence in Pro Modified?


  I wrote this in 2012 but no matter the year, it will always be current because it is a true and factual written history of Pro Modified and history really never changes! BUT…every once in a while, someone starts a thread on the internet which is just really stupid. If you didn’t have somewhere to go to find all this stuff, I might be able to understand, but there’s always somewhere you can go to learn the history of most anything in our sport. Many times these stupid discussions have something to do with Pro Modified and I think that’s because there are SO MANY people in drag racing today who have absolutely NO knowledge of WHAT it is, WHERE it came from and HOW it came to be…the most recent online junk was on promodzone.com and you can really tell most of the people who commented don’t really know much about the not-so-humble beginnings of Pro Modified.


   I say ‘not-so-humble’ because the people who REALLY meant and STILL MEAN the MOST to Pro Modified are the people who started it. One of whom was recently inducted into the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame…Charles Carpenter. Believe you me, Pro Modified was a hard fought battle…made easy for today’s P/M racers by the people who MEAN THE MOST to the entire class and will always have the MOST influence because without them, it just would not be! I have already put the HISTORY of Pro Modified on my blog…I just wanted to write this to refresh the memories of those who forget so easily and teach those who have NO clue!


  I guess I will have to do this every few years because people forget so quickly, don’t know or just don’t pay attention to start with. And then…there are always those who would like to make everyone think things really are not the way they really are! If you REALLY want to know who the MOST influential people in the world are to Pro Modified as a whole…besides BECKY WHITE and Don Garrick, then pay attention for a change. One comment was by one particular person who said she could ‘write a book’…well, if so, why didn’t she? Because it was too hard a job! But I DID write a book…it was called Quick Times Racing News.


And I wrote it a long time before the person who made that comment ever came on the scene So, NO, that person could not have written a book about what I’m writing about tonight. She was a late-comer to the scene anyway…years after the ‘beginnings’ of the class. I've read all the posts here (promodzone) and most of you are way off base...Rickie Smith and Darrell Alderman had absolutely nothing to do with Pro Modified except that, many years after it started, it was just a place for Rickie to go when he couldn't go anywhere else. IF you want to know the people who were...and always will be...THE MOST important people in Pro Modified, all you have to do is go to quicktimesracingnews.com and read the TRUE history of Pro Mod.


  But if ‘Yours Truly’ (that’s ME in case you don’t know) had not given ALL those racers the acknowledgement and recognition of their accomplishments for many years and believed in them even more than some of them believed in themselves, there may never have been the FIRST heads up, pro tree, no breakout doorslammer race. I called those guys and asked them if they wanted to race that way. They wanted it in the worst way! I called them and got them to come to the first few of those races at Orangeburg Dragstrip. Don Garrick provided the FIRST venue for the fastest of the fast DOORSLAMMERS in the southeast to run a Pro-style race…and he did it a full year and a half before anyone else.


   THIS, my friends, is where Pro Mod came from and these were AND STILL ARE the people who are MOST important to and influential in Pro Mod…forever. Why? Because without these ‘charter’ members, there would not have been the class as it is today. These same racers are the racers who ran Top Sportsman and formed the Top Sportsman Racers Association…from whence came Pro Modified after this group put so much pressure on IHRA to do MORE for the racers who were providing the show which brought the spectators to the IHRA races. This happened at a time when IHRA was losing was more racers and more spectators than they were gaining…a dangerous time for the association.


  Problems abounded and Pro Modified was the biggest saving grace in the history of that organization! I not only helped Don Garrick hold the first race as well as subsequent races, the actual Pro Modified designation for the class happened in 1989…I was presented the 1989 IHRA Media Award for promoting this class and these racers as well as all the others. I don’t know WHERE Bret Kepner gets the idea he knows anything about how Pro Mod came about…he wasn’t even around when and where it first got started. He may have done a little announcing up in the Midwest some of those years…but he was never in the south during that time. He doesn’t know anything about what was going on here.


But for some reason or another, he thinks he has to put his two cents worth in every time the subject comes up even though he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Bret…let me remind you AGAIN…I am NOT dead YET First let me say NO ONE has CHANGED PRO MOD…it has evolved. I may not like the way it has evolved, but some things simply cannot be held back. If ANYONE wants to KNOW the TRUTH about PRO MOD…its history…where it came from…WHO it came from, all they have to do is either read all those issues of Quick Times Racing News from 1981 right through the glory years. Right in those pages, you will find the entire history of how Pro Mod came to be…all the way!


  You HAVE to have the history…without it, there would be no Pro Modified! You will NEVER STEAL MY THUNDER…no matter how often you try or how many lies you tell…because you can NOT change history! How many times does someone have to tell you something before you GET it? You have to remember…this started with ALL carbureted cars…NO blowers! Nitrous, yes, but there were NO blowers. Pro Mod is MY class…it was from the beginning and it will always be and no matter how many other people try to change that fact, it IS still FACT and no one can change the FACTS. The only thing Bret Kepner ever had to do with Pro Mod was talking about it…in his job as an announcer. Otherwise, no matter how much Bret WANTS Pro Mod to be ‘his’ class, it never will be.


As I said, he was not even around when this class got started…in the south…first at all the small drag strips all over the south and especially those in North and South Carolina and especially Orangeburg Dragstrip. Once that first Pro Tree, Heads Up, No Breakout race was held there, it spread like wildfire because it was SO EXCITING…the most exciting thing to come out of drag racing since the advent of funny cars in the ‘60s. It was first called Quick 8 Doorslammers. But even before then, racers vied for speed and low ET, not just for the money it brought them, but the glory as well. And yes, R.C. Sherman WAS one of those ‘fast’ guys early on, just like all the others I’ve named.


  There were factions all over the country…United Drag Racers Association had racers going that way…I guess that’s who R.C. raced with. But this had NOTHING to do with ‘altereds.’ There were the Dixie Pro Stockers and Midwest Pro Stockers and several other groups of guys who either could not afford to run with Pro Stock…be it 500 inch or unlimited…or they were just barely out-paced by the top few guys who were always simply the ‘top few.’ They wanted to go fast…they couldn’t do it with IHRA or NHRA and they sure as hell couldn’t bracket race so they formed little groups all over the place and ran as exhibitionists. The racers who started Pro Modified didn’t do that…they kept fighting for a place to run actual races, where they could get paid to qualify…not just do exhibition runs.


They also ran the match race circuit with all their local southeastern tracks and became so well known to the fans just the mention of having any of them at any certain track would guarantee a track operator a good payday. When they started running eight of those very popular cars per event, that guaranteed an even bigger payday and the southeastern tracks…especially the Carolina tracks…the most success they had EVER seen. The more popular they became in the southeast, the more little groups popped up in other places…Midwest Pro Stock was one very popular group, not to mention the Wild Bunch (although they were mostly blower cars). Yes, they were ALL important and I do NOT discount the importance of any single racer or group of racers.


  But when you get right down to brass tacks, Pro Mod BELONGS to Becky White and Quick Times Racing News, Don Garrick and Orangeburg Dragstrip, Charles Carpenter and Rob Vandergriff, Jim Bryant, Blake Wiggins, Scotty Cannon, Michael Martin, Ken Regenthal, Gordy Foust, Ronnie Hood & Bruce Walker, Tommy Mauney, Frankie Flanagan, Terry Housley & the Thurmer brothers, Ed Hoover, Wally Bell (I cannot believe Wally Bell could mention other publications in his comments but not mention Quick Times Racing News…I guess that is the thanks a person gets for working their heart out…Wally, how would you like for me to leave your name out here?), Jim Honeycutt, Thomas Jackson, Jeff Higgins & Don Plemmons, Grady Moore, Sonny & Deb Tindal, Wayne Davis, Gene Fryer, Frankie Foster, Frank Roberts, Roger Huffman, Karl & Butch Bridgeman, Smitty & Memphis Smith, Paul Smith, Woody Elders, Frank Teague, Lee Huffman, Sam Stevenson, Tommy Warren, George Gaffney, Dennis Newton, Larry Adams and Mike Petree, Sam Snyder  and every other little guy racer who ever wanted to go fast and run heads up.


  Every little guy who grubbed and dug and scraped and scratched their way to a new way of life in our sport…guys whose names you’ve never even heard before and never will hear them or read them anywhere but here…in Quick Times Racing News. Because I STILL care that the true history of this class remain unadulterated by egomaniacs. I have to also mention companies like NOS, RAM, TM Race Cars, and I can’t even remember how many more were instrumental in building the equipment these cars needed? As all GOOD things come to an end, when it became a ‘Pro’ class, it caught the attention of lots of those aforementioned egomaniacs who didn’t have to grub out a spot…they just bought one…everyone wanted to be a part of this new part of drag racing.


There are people who race Pro Mod now who have not the slightest idea of how we all fought and the struggles the racers and I went through to get from Low ETs and Top Speed to Quick 8 Mountain Motor Outlaw Doorslammers to Top Sportsman shootouts to FINALLY make this class a legal IHRA class. You have NO idea what I went through to get NHRA to recognize this class, the begging and pleading I did to get NHRA tracks to run just ONE Quick 8 race…just so they could see how crazy the fans were over it. Ask Steve Earwood, see if he will tell you the truth…if he won’t, I have a letter you can read!


  Ask anyone who was involved with the first NHRA sanctioned tracks who ran Quick 8s…Southeastern Dragway, Lassiter Mountain Dragway and others and finally Atlanta Dragway, ask Gary Brown. If there are people’s names on here the Pro Mod racers of today don’t know, today’s group needs to thank them whether they’ve ever heard of them or not. Without them, you’d all just still be ‘little guy’ drag racers. And Bret Kepner wouldn’t have anything to brag about. Just because he was an announcer…later…doesn’t mean he knows anything about who is REALLY important to Pro Modifed as it is today. Bret…get an original idea for a change and stop trying to recycle mine! I offered you the chance to write an original story in 1986, you couldn’t do it then and 25 years later, you STILL can’t! You just keep trying to write the same old stuff in different places.


When the people on one website get tired of reading your crap, you just go to another one. I have now figured out why you’ve never wised up…you can’t! You remain as impotent on this subject as you were when your Corvette tires were slashed at the motel in Bristol, TN! I read all the posts on promodzone.com and most of you are way off base…I tell you this again…I DID WRITE A BOOK…it was called QUICK TIMES RACING NEWS! If you want to know the people who were…and always will be…the MOST important and influential people in Pro Modified, all you have to do is read the TRUE history of Pro Mod…written as it was happening! Wally Bell is correct about one thing…no one from 2000 on would be there without the guys who started it.


  Actually I will go one step farther and say most of those from 1995 to the present and into the future would not be here today without those original guys and I know I have left out some names…for that I’m sorry. You do NOT have to remain ignorant on this subject…just read the facts…written and printed as it was happening! Ronnie Davis was close when he said…Tommy Mauney was as influential in the formation of Pro Mod as any other single individual with the exceptions of Charles Carpenter, Becky White and Don Garrick at Orangeburg Dragstrip. Some of the guys y’all mentioned on that message board had absolutely NOTHING to do with the beginning of Pro Modified and they remain inconsequential as far as Pro Modified is concerned. For the REAL answer to the question, just come HERE to learn the REAL TRUTH.


I always have been, I am now, I always will be…drag racing’s most dedicated fan!