When the PDRA announced the 2021 rules package for its Drag 965 Pro Street class, Chris Cadotto knew he found the new home for his fan-favorite, screw-blown ’97 Dodge Ram known as “the Brick.” With a stock body – Cadotto bought the truck off the car lot in 1997 and drove it as his daily driver – it’s an embodiment of the Pro Street class spirit.
“I slowly started modifying it,” Cadotto says of the truck. “I started with an air cleaner, then headers, then dual exhaust. It just kept evolving and evolving. I had small-blocks in it and street Hemis in it with dual quads and nitrous. Bumped up to a street blower, then caught it on fire at my house and had a garage fire that burnt everything down. So I turned it into what it is now, a full tube chassis sick weapon.”
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #169, the State of Drag Issue, in July of 2021.]
The Brick now sports a Mark Herek-built 521ci Brad Anderson Hemi with MBE cylinder heads and a C-rotor screw blower up top. A 2-speed Rossler transmission helps get the estimated 3,500 horsepower to the rear wheels, which are equipped with class-mandated 10.5-inch-wide bias ply slicks.
It looks pretty ridiculous going down the track at nearly 190 mph in the eighth-mile. All the cars in Pro Street are known to make wild passes, but Cadotto’s Brick takes the “wow” factor to the next level.
“The crowd loves these cars because they have stock bodies,” Cadotto begins, “and they’re always doing giant wheelies and dragging the [wheelie] bars. People stay in the bleachers for that stuff. Pro Mods are fast, of course, but as soon as they hear that the Pro Street class is coming up, they get to the stands.”
Cadotto, who races with his wife, Andrea, and crew members Mark Watts and Justin Gagleard, spoke with Drag Illustrated following the PDRA North-South Shootout presented by Line-X to talk about his unique truck and how it fits in to the growing Pro Street class.
How challenging is it to get a vehicle like that to run at the same level as cars like Tim Essick’s ultra-slick Mustang?
Most of the challenge through the years was, as I started going close to 200 mph, then over 200, now I’m going 190 to the eighth, is just keeping the doors on it. All that air hits the truck and it plays havoc on the body panels. People don’t realize how much more aerodynamic a car is. You put your hand out the window on the expressway at 70 mph and you feel what that’s like, then triple that speed. It’s really challenging to keep panels and the doors on it.
I don’t want to say I work harder than anybody else because all these guys work their tails off to get these cars to run as fast as they can, but I really feel that the truck is at a disadvantage aerodynamically and it’s challenging. That’s why it’s called the Brick. It’s like taking a piece of plywood and holding it up vertically and trying to race with that in front of you.
Is that why you rarely pull the parachutes?
It’s funny, I hear these guys talk about ‘I yanked the parachutes and the thing pulled me back. I have bruises on my chest from the parachutes.’ I’ve gone 185-186 mph and never even pulled the parachutes because when I let off the gas, it just noses over because it has so much air pushing on it already. People are like ‘I think I need two ‘chutes.’ Well, I don’t even think I need one.
At the last race, I had a spark plug wire burn up. I knew it didn’t make a good pass – it only went 4.16 but it went 186 – and I knew we were going to be in a rush, so I stopped it from 186 and I never pulled the parachute. I don’t think a car could do that. That thing just stops when you let off the gas. I’m not an aerodynamic engineer, but that tells me that thing is just pushing a lot of air.
Why does the Pro Street class appeal to you?
I like the Pro Street class because that tire is the equalizer. You don’t need to have a million-dollar program to go out and be competitive. You have a good shot at winning the race because you can only put so much power down on that tire. It becomes a tuner’s game. You have to tippy-toe off the starting line.
I respect all forms of racing – radial racing is badass – but you get on them glued tracks and you put it down, whoever has the most money and the biggest horsepower is going to win. The 10.5 tire equals everybody out. It makes it fair for the average guy or girl to get in there and be competitive…even with a pickup truck. If I put it on radials, I’m sure it would be a lot faster, but I’d have to run Radial vs. the World and run 3.50s. Very few people can do that.
Do you see a lot of potential in the class?
I really believe this Pro Street class is going to take off. Now that Pro 275 is getting super-fast, these 275 cars are going .60s. Again, it’s going to turn into another Radial vs. the World class. It’s going to get too fast and everybody is going to come running to PDRA – I hope.
I see a lot of cars starting to come over. [Jason] Hoard is planning on switching over. A few other guys are in the process of switching over. Once Canada opens up, Nick Agostino and a couple other Canadian guys are going to come down. I would say by next year, it’s easily going to have 16 cars.