Dan Phelps wasn’t even on the grounds at Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park when he clinched the 2019 Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Pro Mod Series Race Star Wheels Top Dragster championship.
“We had lost in the first round and it was cold and there was nothing more that I could do anyway, so my wife and I just decided to pack up and go home,” the Labadie, MO-based champ explains. “After qualifying I was 47 points ahead of Danny (Nelson), so at 20 points per round he had to at least win a semifinal to beat me.
“I was actually listening to the race on the Internet while we were getting fuel at a truck stop in Joplin, Missouri, and when Danny lost in the second round I knew no one else could catch me, so I hugged Melodie and congratulated her because she puts just as much into this as I do.”
Phelps missed attending the MWPMS season opener in Dallas, instead joining the seven-event tour in April at his home track, the Gateway facility near St. Louis, where in 2013 he suffered a serious blowover accident that led to the purchase of his current car, a 2014 Race Tech from Russ Farmer in North Carolina.
Between the rails rides a big-block 632 from Rolla Competition Engines (RCE) boosted by two stages of Induction Solutions nitrous. Handling the power transfer is a two-speed Powerglide equipped with an FTI torque converter and assembled by Greg Cullum at Transmissions to Go in St. Louis.
He made it to the semis in his series debut, but followed up with a pair of first-round exits at Tulsa and Ferris, TX, before returning to Gateway in August and scoring the first major race win of his career.
“I had won a few local bracket races over the years, but as far as winning anything of any substance, yeah, that was the first time,” Phelps says. “And for it to happen in St. Louis made it even more special for both of us,” he added, referring once more to his wife and racing partner of more than 31 years.
Remarkably, it didn’t take long to repeat as a race winner with Phelps scoring once more in Memphis at the next Mid-West Series event on the schedule. The win also boosted him into the series points lead before heading early in October to the MWPMS World Finals at Tulsa.
“Yeah, it was feast or famine all year,” he recognizes. “We either lost first round or ended up doing pretty good. In a land of Prochargers and blowers we definitely weren’t the fastest, but if we ran our own race we could be just as consistent as anyone.”
Phelps says he expects to return and defend his MWPMS title next year, too.
“This series is a good alternative for us because even located in the Midwest there’s some races that are close and then there are places where we have to travel a good bit. But it’s not like we have to go 900 miles every time we want to attend a race,” he says.
“And I really like the eighth-mile format and how you qualify Friday and Saturday and then race on Saturday, too, as long as the weather cooperates. Basically, it just fits what we want to do.”
The Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Pro Mod Series will open its 2020 season Mar. 27-28, at the Texas Motorplex. Throughout an eight-race schedule it also will visit Bowling Green, KY; Tulsa (twice); St. Louis (twice), Ferris, TX; and for the first time Martin, MI, for a special double points race in September.