Currently a single point behind three-time and defending NHRA Pro Mod champion Rickie Smith in 11th place, Danny Rowe hasn’t had a terrible NHRA season. Four round wins this Saturday at Bandimere Speedway, though, could be a game changer.
Rowe is entered into the invitation-only Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod Presented by One Cure and J&A Service where he faces Canadian doorslammer ace Eric Latino in the first round. With no qualifying thanks to a random draw, 14 drivers know who their E1 opponent will be with the last two racers entered via a Friday-night shootout. They also won’t have to worry about ETs because the clocks are off. It’s literally whoever gets to the stripe first, wins, and whoever gets to the stripe first four times wins $100,000 with second place getting a view of the winner’s bumper.
The California resident didn’t get where he is in life without having vision. Rowe said the powers that be at Bandimere partnering with Drag Illustrated Publisher Wes Buck make for an incredible opportunity for the Pro Mod community.
“I think what it does is, it starts to make everybody realize the value of what Pro Modified possibly can do and what the value of a team like Wes and the people who run Bandimere, what they bring to an event,” Rowe said. “I just think that by them putting together this type of event in Denver to show that it’s an exciting value proposition for any good promoter and businessperson. And I think that translates to big money for race car teams and Pro Mod teams that are excited about being involved at this type of venue. I think it’s a huge opportunity for everybody.”
While Pro Mod racing within the NHRA has gotten more attention in recent years due to incredible car counts and a better television package with FOX Sports, activities outside the sanction’s bubble don’t always get their attention.
Rowe said they shouldn’t ignore what’s happening this weekend in Denver.
“Anything that happens outside of NHRA, that stands Pro Mod up, has got to make NHRA take a look at what’s going on in the real world,” he said. “The challenge is that NHRA doesn’t always value what happens outside of their world. But something this big, they can’t ignore.”
Knowing weeks in advance who’s going to be in the next lane can be an advantage, but Rowe said given the competition within the NHRA, there’s a pretty good chance he’s already lined up against them fairly frequently. Having said that, he acknowledged the fact there are no posted times does make things interesting.
“I think the level of intensity is probably going to be right up there just based on the fact we don’t have any numbers,” he said. “We don’t know what everybody runs and we all know that at any one time, a team like Latino can pull one out of their ass and really run a number.
“But I think anybody can. I think everybody’s going to go up there, they’re going to have to run their race track, and bring everything you’ve got and make it down the race track, otherwise you’re going home. I don’t think there’s anyone there I favor or anybody that I’m worried about running. I just know that we’re going to have to run the best possible number in that possible lane at that possible time or we’re going home.”
When it comes to big-money races like the WSOPM and especially given the fact the only person leaving the property with a check is the driver with the trophy, deals tend to get cut between the finalists. “Stevie Fast” Jackson said on Buck’s Facebook Live show recently he’s been questioned about whether or not he would cut a deal with a competitor.
Rowe said he’s never been in that position and doesn’t plan on starting now.
“I’ve never been in a spot that I’d even ever considered that,” he said, laughing. “I don’t know where Stevie Fast has raced, where it’s cool for people to do that. I don’t understand that, I’ve never been put in that position, I’ve never been there. I only know if you win, you win. If you don’t, you don’t. I don’t know, I’ve never been put in that position. But as far as I’m concerned, I kind of look at it from the standpoint you went there to win it all, so that should be the goal, right?”
At the end of the day Saturday, one racer is going home with fame, glory, prestige, a trophy, and a lot of scratch. Fifteen other drivers are going home with a lot of nothing. Understanding this is a key component to the mindset of those participating Saturday night at Bandimere.
“Nobody’s going to give a shit who lost first round, second round, nobody’s going to know what you ran,” he said. “There’s no glory for setting a track record. None of that’s going to happen. The only thing you get to walk away with here is either you have the trophy and the money or you went home.
“It’s like an on and off switch; either you’re on or you’re off. There’s no in between.”