Eric Dillard had a vision. But it has turned out reality has been even better than the dream.
Intrigued with the potential of the ProCharger centrifugal supercharger a couple of years ago, Dillard made it come to fruition. It hasn’t been a conventional direction for the turbo-minded ProLine Racing shop, but straying outside their norm has paid off.
The ProCharger combined with Proline’s Hemi power has been nothing short of gangbusters in the ’69 Camaro now driven by Kevin Rivenbark.
Dillard made the first runs in the car last year, and Rivenbark has since lowered the boom in both Pro Mod and drag radial set-ups, bringing Dillard’s dream very much to life.
“To see it materialize to this already, it’s really unreal. Two years ago, I had a dream that maybe we could make this work,” Dillard says. “Most people were like, ‘Are you sure?’ but I just had this feeling we could make it work. I’m just glad that we made that leap and it’s just surreal to see it all come together.”
It’s surely a testament to the ProLine group for having the wherewithal to think outside the box. They have been longtime turbo guys at heart, with an impressive track record to boot, but Dillard, the co-owner at Proline, was fascinated with seeing the what-ifs come to life with the ProCharger.
He couldn’t have imagined it would work this well, but it has only furthered Dillard’s point that his ProCharger/ProLine dream was capable of big things.
As it has played out in just a few short months, it has turned the sport on its head. Dillard went a then-ProCharger record 3.67 at the Mid-West Pro Mod Series race in November of 2018 at Texas Motorplex, with Rivenbark taking the reigns on the Camaro this year.
With Dillard’s help and Steve Petty calling the shots, Rivenbark obliterated that mark with a 3.613 burst at 207.37 mph in Bradenton. Less than a month later, Rivenbark’s blast of 3.613 on 205.01 on radial tires at Lights Out 10 became the quickest run in Radial vs. the World history, adding another impressive number to the ProCharger experiment. Another month passed and Rivenbark broke the 3.50 barrier at Sweet 16 2.0 at South Georgia with a 3.587 at 206.67 in qualifying before claiming the $101,000 event title.
“I told Kevin when he came to us, I said, ‘I didn’t know what was going to come of this. It could be great or it could be something that we have some trials and tribulations.’ I had a feeling these things would really stay together really well over what we’ve experienced in the turbo world,” Dillard says. “I don’t even know how to explain it. It all happened so fast. To see it all come together, it’s a testament to our group. We’ve got an awesome group. There’s a group that no matter what always comes through.”
The next step is getting the ProCharger combination approved for NHRA Pro Mod racing (Editor’s Note: something that came true heading into the 2020 season). Dillard and his team have been in regular communication with the NHRA, but adding another potential combination to the mix seems enticing.
The class is already thriving, but Dillard believes adding the ProCharger supercharger could create even more depth and parity.
“I think, honestly, for NHRA they need to let this combination in. It will bring some life back to the class,” Dillard said. “At the end of the day, we’ll get some new life into the class because it’s a new combo. I think we’re going to get a group of 10 people that don’t race Pro Mod already. The car count is strong, but we need to maintain it and keep it up.”
Dillard believes the ProCharger is a good way to do it, in part because of the benefits he’s seen with it. It’s been more reliable with far less maintenance than a turbo combination, and the consistent performances have been eye-opening as well.
The Camaro has been on one full pass after another since November, making incredible power early in the run. The FuelTech electronic fuel injection has worked flawlessly with the combination, presenting new possibilities when it comes to running consistently fast without tremendous wear and tear. It seems almost too good to be true, but thus far it’s been a combo with seemingly unlimited potential.
“The turbo car is hard to tune. It takes that much more work to make (the turbo car) work than it takes to make (the ProCharger car) work,” Dillard points out. “The maintenance is much better. For a drag racer in this sport at this level (drag radial) or even in Pro Mod, that’s what we need so that more people can come out here and do this. I think it’s great for our sport.”
This story originally appeared in DI 144.