The term “Pro Mod” has come to mean many things in recent years. So many, in fact, that it’s easy to forget what embodied Pro Modifieds in the beginning. For diehards like Ric Fleck, however, there is only one way to effectually “Pro Mod”. It’s not just about the power adder utilized or how fast one can get down the track, although many Pro Mod teams have narrowed it down to exactly that. No, for racers like Fleck, Pro Mod means embracing the look as much as the performance. His 1941 Willys, a body style made famous by early Pro Mod pioneers like Scotty Cannon and Tommy Mauney, is as fun to watch for its flashy paint scheme as it is for it’s on track performance, which, by the way, is stout in PDRA’s Pro Boost this season. Fleck currently sits third in GALOT Motorsports Pro Boost points with semi-final appearances at the last two events.
“For me Pro Boost, hands down, is the best class there is,” Fleck remarked. “If you look at the finals last year in Virginia, the entire field is within seven numbers of each other. From 3.79 to a 3.86 out of 16 cars, even with the difference of the turbo cars and the blower cars; that’s really tight. That tells ya something. It’s really a good tuners race. There’s enough rules in place to keep everybody competitive, but not too many rules so that you can’t stand out.”
Fleck has always had a love of cars and racing. In high school it was dirt track. After moving to South Carolina from Pennsylvania with the Air Force, Fleck began toying around with his street car.
“I put a ProCharger on my street car, which was a Trans Am. It was actually during 9/11 that I was putting it on, so I’ll always remember exactly when it was. The first time I took it to the drag strip after that I was hooked.
“My first race I went to see Pro Mods run Mike Ashley at the time had his Gotham City themed cars with their wild paint schemes and airbrushing. I just thought that was the coolest thing. Seeing all the blower and nitrous cars, that was it for me. I said, ‘That’s what I’m going to run one of these days.’”
Fleck stayed true to his word and eventually began running Pro Mod. It was actually an unfortunate turn of events that led him to his current Willys. At the time, Fleck was running his ‘07 Corvette in outlaw events. One fateful trip to South Carolina’s Greer Dragway in 2014 would end Fleck’s tenure with his Corvette and open the door for him to revitalize the body style that first piqued his Pro Mod interest. “After I wrecked the Corvette I immediately began looking for another car. Kevin Mayer owned this Willys and was getting out of racing. I always liked the Willys body style to begin with. To me, it epitomizes Pro Mod look- wild body styles, wild paint jobs. It was a Tommy Mauney car so I knew it was a good chassis and I jumped on the opportunity.”
Fleck made the switch from his ProCharger setup to a Chuck Ford blower to complement the Under Pressure Performance engine and began competing with PDRA Pro Boost. Now, he and his Flex Racing Team, comprised of crew chief Devin Barrick, Doug Price, Chris Krug, Charlie Dooley, Kevin Siverd, and Ronnie Honeycutt, are standard fixtures at the events and one of the most fearsome teams in the class.
“We really appreciate what Mr. Earl Wells [owner, GALOT Motorsports] has done for Pro Boost,” Fleck emphasized. “What he’s done in sponsoring the class has been great, as well as the new facility he’s given us to race at. He’s put together a top notch team. If you want to be the best you have to beat the best and racing against guys like Todd Tutterow, Kevin Rivenbark and John Strickland, it doesn’t get any better than that. That’s why we’re here. We want to race guys who are on top of their game, because it shows if you can beat those guys, you’re on the top of your game.”
Although GALOT Motorsports teammates Kevin Rivenbark and John Strickland have dominated this season and currently sit number one and two in points, respectively, there still remains time for Fleck to “beat the best”. In an effort to do just that, Fleck has implemented some mid-season changes to his Laserform Machine backed Willys. He recently tested a new transmission that he’ll debut at the PDRA North South Shootout this upcoming weekend at Maryland International Raceway.
“The PDRA is the best organization anyone can possibly race in, by far,” Fleck added. “The way they treat the racers, the fans, just everybody, is top notch. I can’t say enough about the Scruggs and Franklin families for doing what they do. I would encourage anybody running a Pro Mod that can fit into these classes to come out and run the PDRA at least one or two times. Then they’ll understand why we travel the way we do. You’re going to run on great tracks, with great people and great safety equipment and have a great time doing it.”