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Taming the ‘Savage’ Beast: King, Miller, Pilot Form Winning Combination in NEOPMA

Van Abernethy photo

Sometimes bracket racing just does not ignite the adrenaline fire that high-speed, heads-up racing does. Steve King, a bracket racer from Virginia, felt that fire in 1999. He went about doing research to find a class to fit into and wound up liking the NMCA and NSCA. He purchased a car, a motor, the needed equipment, and set out to conquer the world of Pro Street.

Conquering the world did not come easy, so King called on a friend with a lot more driving and mechanical experience. Jeff Miller is a master auto mechanic with a ton of drag racing on his resume, and so with Miller in the driver’s seat, King and Miller again set out to conquer the world.

[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #179, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in November/December of 2022. Story by Dennis Quitoni.]

After a couple of seasons, Miller realized he needed to concentrate on the mechanical needs of the car as well as the tuneup, and relinquished driving duties back to King. They ran well for a bunch of years, then switched over to Pro Mod, but conquering the world of Pro Mod drag racing was really putting a strain on their resources.  

Along came businessman Gene Pilot, a drag racer looking for a car, so a mutual friend arranged a meeting with Miller and King. Pilot was aware of the talent Miller and King had as a team, but he also saw how limited in resources they were. The duo was not looking to sell what they had, but when Pilot had them list everything needed to be front runners, a partnership developed and Pilot became the team owner, Miller the crew chef, and King the driver.

 The team has found a home with the Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association (NEOPMA) racing their Larry Jeffers-built 2019 Corvette nicknamed “Savage.” Powering the savage is a screw-blown 526ci Mike Stawicki Hemi, and with tuning help from Jon Salemi, the Savage has gone down the eighth mile in 3.593 seconds at 210 mph.

The Pilot/Miller/King team brings a large crew to the races, mostly comprised of family and crew members that have been an integral part of this team from the start.

Pilot kept his promise to supply them with everything needed to be front runners and a threat at every race they attend. Therefore, the team’s mantra is “second place don’t count.”

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One of the team’s 2022 highlights came at the Empire Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Challenge II at New York’s Empire Dragway in mid-June. King qualified third, set a track record, and reached the final round, where he came up just a little short to eventual back-to-back NEOPMA champion Mike Decker Jr. in a side-by-side 3.60-second final round.

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