It’s a new year, which means it’s another new class for Alex Laughlin.
That’s simply the way of life for the adventurous Texan, but he may be facing the biggest challenge of his racing career in 2019.
Laughlin will make his Pro Mod debut next year as part of Elite Motorsports’ growing Pro Mod umbrella, racing the full 12-race NHRA Pro Mod schedule as well as making his World Series of Pro Mod debut.
It also means another massively full slate for Laughlin, who raced Pro Stock last year and made his drag radial debut. But that’s just the way he likes it, especially as it means a debut in a class he’s always enjoyed.
“I’m very excited. I’ve driven a car that’s similar to a Pro Mod and I’ve been the speed of a Pro Mod with the Alcohol car, but I’ve never been that fast in a door car.,” Laughlin said. “They’re fast and little more unpredictable than a Pro Stock car. There’s nothing really more badass to run as far as door cars than a Pro Mod.”
Laughlin will drive the turbocharged Camaro built by Ryan Martin, pairing up with Elite Motorsports teammate and fellow Pro Stock competitor Erica Enders on the Pro Mod side.
It’s part of the continued growth in the class for Elite Motorsports, which is owned by Richard Freeman, and Laughlin was more than happy to make a jump into the Pro Mod deep end.
While he struggled during a frustrating 2018 Pro Stock season, Laughlin wasn’t sure he wanted to return to the class in 2019. Pro Mod certainly had his attention and he talked with Freeman about the possibility of only running in that category. But in the end, Laughlin opted with more seat time, choosing to run all 12 NHRA Pro Mod races, plus the full 18-race Pro Stock slate.
“I like being busy at the track and I like getting out of one car and getting right in another,” said Laughlin, who has two career Pro Stock wins. “I’m more than happy to run Pro Mod and Pro Stock. The Pro Stock car is good again and there’s no reason we shouldn’t have a chance to race for a championship. I feel good about next year.”
Enders, a two-time Pro Stock world champ, made her NHRA Pro Mod debut in 2018, making considerable strides throughout the year and putting together a solid showing at the World Series of Pro Mod in Denver in August.
Laughlin’s addition to the Elite Pro Mod operation could mean even bigger things for the two-car team in 2019.
“We’ve worked with Alex and his father, Kenny, and his family for a long time and it’s exciting to have a chance to expand the relationship,” Freeman said. “We’re thrilled with the growth of the Elite Motorsports Pro Mod program and it’s a huge step to have both Erica and Alex running at all 12 races.”
Laughlin isn’t one to back down from a challenge, embracing the mantra of being comfortable being uncomfortable.
It’s a style that suits Laughlin well, carrying a gunslinger attitude that should serve him well in the Pro Mod ranks.
“I definitely don’t want to be vanilla,” Laughlin said. “I don’t want to be just like everyone else. I like being different and I think that helps.”
It’s been imperative in Laughlin selling himself to potential sponsors and it should be beneficial in a 2019 season that promises to be one of his busiest to date.
Throw in the World Series of Pro Mod, where there is “absolutely nothing that could come up that would keep me from that,” plus Donald Long’s drag radial events, and Laughlin will compete in 34 races next year.
It’s a behemoth undertaking, but Laughlin welcomes it. He plans to test in the Pro Mod Camaro right after Christmas, making his official debut at the NHRA Pro Mod opener in Gainesville.
“There’s definitely a lot to learn. The cars are different, the power is way different, but with two cars we can learn twice as fast,” Laughlin said. “The deal is, with the equipment we’ve got with Elite, there is nothing better. We’ve got the top of the line. It’s just about getting used to the car, taking the data and technology and being able to be apply it, and then just go out and try to be competitive.”