The significance of the 60-car Pro Mod entry list for this weekend’s U.S. Street Nationals presented by Diamond Pistons is not lost on Stevie “Fast” Jackson. Just 32 of those drivers will qualify for eliminations, and just one will walk away from Bradenton Motorsports Park with the $32,000 check on Sunday night.
“If you are a fast door car racer, you’re probably on that list,” said Jackson, a two-time NHRA Pro Mod world champion. “It’s humbling to be on this list. I think they sold 50-60 tech cards in 12 hours. That’s pretty unprecedented. That shows the world how strong outlaw door car racing is. There are people on this list that I admire and have admired, there’s people on the list that I don’t like and want to crush, and there’s people on the list that I’m flat-out scared that I can’t outrun.”
The list includes 50th annual Snowbird Nationals winner Melanie Salemi, PDRA Pro Nitrous world champions Jim Halsey and Tommy Franklin, NMCA Xtreme Pro Mod world champion Chip King, Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association champion Mike Decker Jr., NHRA Top Fuel driver Scott Palmer, NHRA Pro Mod hitters Lyle Barnett and Brandon Snider, and legendary Pro Mod drivers like Todd “King Tut” Tutterow. It’s a list that makes for incredibly tough competition for the racers, but also for a diverse, entertaining show for the fans.
“It’s really a who’s who of fan favorites,” Jackson said. “No matter what type of motorsports fan you are and no matter what style driver you like, I promise you at this event there’s somebody here that represents the kind of stuff you like.”
The weather forecast for the weekend is calling for unseasonably cool conditions for Florida’s Gulf Coast, with highs in the mid-to-high 50-degree range on Saturday and Sunday. It will create a unique challenge – or opportunity – for Jackson and the other Pro Mod competitors to lay down record numbers.
“We don’t get to race in air like this a lot,” Jackson said. “When I say that it’s perfect, I’m telling you that it’s perfect. [Monday], I think the worst the DA was all day was 400 feet of density altitude. There will be runs that we make where it’s below sea level. There’s a lot of folks, including me, that don’t have enough experience in perfect conditions. You’ve got a perfect racetrack and perfect conditions. It will make the home run ball almost essential.
“You’re not going to be able to go out there with 60 people trying to get into 32 spots and lay up,” Jackson continued. “If you do that, you may end up in the bottom half of the show and you’re gonna have to run me first round. And you don’t want to run me first round. So you better go out there and be willing to take some chances and try to hit that home run ball in qualifying. We’re coming out in Q1 with the biggest bat I got and we’re gonna try to beat them into submission.”
One of Jackson’s goals at the U.S. Street Nationals is to make up for his performance at the Snowbird Nationals in early December, where he suffered a rare first-round loss.
“I feel like we came off a bad race at the Snowbirds,” Jackson said. “We had a mechanical failure and I feel like we owe it to the fans to do a better job at this event.”
The fan-favorite is looking forward to seeing packed grandstands when he rolls to the starting line for qualifying, which starts Friday.
“This is going to be a big spectator event,” Jackson said. “A lot of folks come down South this time of year to get away from the cold. I want to thank all the fans who continue to show interest in our sport and especially the Pro Modified class. You hear every driver out here say we can’t do this without you – we really can’t do this without you. If you guys lose interest, we lose the class. So thanks to all the fans and readers and everyone who comes out to the events and supports us for giving us a place to race. You guys are the boss.”