This Mountain Motor Pro Stock racing in the NHRA thing has gone perfectly for John DeFlorian, who has left an impressive stamp on MMPS history in just two events.
His exploits include an exhibition win at the U.S. Nationals last year, and a No. 1 qualifier and victory – earning the first-ever MMPS Wally – just over a week ago in Houston. Next up is another chance at history when the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class goes four-wide racing for the first time ever at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte.
As expected, DeFlorian can’t wait for the chance to thrive during the latest showcase on the big stage for the class.
“I just hope I don’t screw it all up just trying to stage because that looks a little bit challenging,” DeFlorian said. “It’s going to be pretty interesting and a lot of fun. “But just think about this for a minute: four Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars side-by-side-by-side-by-side going down the track at one time. That’s going to be a sight and just think about how that’s going to sound. It’s going to be badass.”
That’s the appropriate term for what will be a must-see occasion, not only for the drivers but also the fans expected to pack the house at zMAX Dragway.
A 16-car Mountain Motor Pro Stock field will be there to put on a show during the class debut for four-wide racing and DeFlorian will be leading the charge in his Jon Kaase Racing Engines-powered Jerry Haas 2015 Camaro.
With NHRA races in Bristol and Epping still to follow for the class in 2019, it’s an experiment that has worked on every level imaginable thus far.
DeFlorian put on a show in Houston, qualifying No. 1 with an impressive pass of 6.255 at 224.40 mph en route to the victory. As meaningful as that win was – and DeFlorian’s celebration video tells 1,000 words – seeing the positive reaction from fans also touched the veteran’s heartstrings.
Fans packed his pit area throughout the weekend and DeFlorian obliged by answering questions with his usual exuberance, entertaining guests and placing kids inside the car. In short, it was a dream weekend in every way.
“I was blown away,” DeFlorian said. “But the amount of people who walked up there and said, ‘Holy crap, look at the size of those motors.’ They were blown away at the size of the engines and that was pretty cool. We want them to take a look because that’s how you build fans. We got great exposure from the first event and I think the next one is probably going to be even more because the first one went so well.”
It’s a rewarding time for DeFlorian and the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class, which had been put through the ringer over the years. There were times when DeFlorian didn’t know if he would be racing, but this – along with competing in the PDRA – has proven to be a golden opportunity to showcase cars and drivers worthy of a considerable spotlight.
“A few times it looked pretty bleak for us,” DeFlorian said. “There were a couple times went into the winter without a place to race. But this is a special group of people. We’re very fierce competitors, but when we’re back in the pits if somebody needs something, everyone will help you out. And we’ve got some wild characters in our class. It’s a really diverse group of folks and a group passionate about Mountain Motor Pro Stock, and this is only going to help.”
Based on his performances in two NHRA appearances, DeFlorian doesn’t mind taking all the glory. His team, led by standout crew chief Brian “Lump” Self have great camaraderie, running exceptionally well at the U.S. Nationals in a four-car exhibition a year ago.
They followed with a strong showing in an eight-car qualifying field in Houston, taking down Rick Cowger, Dillon Voss – with a 6.239 at 223.39 – and a red-lighting J.R. Carr in the final. That gave DeFlorian his first career Wally and a smile that hasn’t left his face.
“I’m still on cloud nine and I don’t know that I’ll ever come back down from that weekend,” DeFlorian said. “When you have that Wally sitting next to you driving home, it was a pretty special thing. That means more than people understand. For a guy like me, to even have an opportunity to win one of those things is unbelievable. NHRA couldn’t have been any better, the fans couldn’t have been any better, and it was amazing. We can’t wait for (Charlotte).”