After racing “down under” most of this year, Frankie “Mad Man” Taylor returned to his native state and pulled his sinister-looking, flat-black ’05 Corvette out of storage just in time to win the monthly O’Reilly Auto Parts Outlaw Pro Mod race Aug. 4, at the famed Texas Motorplex. It made the Dickinson, Tx-based driver the fourth different Texas Outlaw Pro Modified Association winner in as many TOPMA events staged at the Motorplex this summer.
“We’ve been down to Australia six or seven times this year racing with Victor and Ben Bray,” Taylor explained. “We just got back about a week before this race and we hadn’t raced the black car in about nine months. That was the first time we brought it out since last fall.”
Taylor and his brother, Paul, who also serves as crew chief, spent the previous week reconfiguring the car not only to run fast with TOPMA, but to conform to rules for a big $50,000-to-win Pro Mod special event Nov. 1-3 at the Texas Motorplex. In addition to routine maintenance, the Taylor brothers adjusted the screw-type blower atop their Hemi engine to run at 75-percent overdrive, installed a new transmission, and bumped the car’s weight up to 2,405 pounds.
“It was a lot of work in the shop getting it ready but we really had to do some testing because we still have a few races to do this year—and we really want to win that $50-grand,” Taylor said. “So to win at the Motorplex, man, that was a bonus and we’re pretty happy. It was the first time back out racing TOPMA this year and really the first race this year for us with a Pro Mod.”
The former TOPMA champion proved he never missed a beat, qualifying second of 14 entries vying for the eight-car field. Taylor posted a solid 3.84 at 196.36 mph behind current series points leader Steve Wiley, who took the number-one spot with a stellar 3.77 pass at 203.71 mph. Unfortunately, qualifying also saw a crash by Bob Alexander shortly after the launch of his formerly Taylor-owned C5 Corvette.
“I felt bad for Bob. I think that was the first pass he made after fixing it from a crash he had here I think back in June. I don’t think it’s too bad, though, mostly cosmetic along the left side with maybe some front-end damage, but he really didn’t need that after just getting it all back together,” Taylor said.
Taylor, Kevin Hargett, last month’s winner at the Motorplex, and June’s winner Doug Riesterer each advanced from the first round of racing. Wiley, however, suffered problems down track with his blown ’63 Corvette, allowing Tony Strachan to earn a trip to the semis. Strachan then narrowly earned lane choice for his second-straight final with a 4.11 win over Reisterer, who also had to shut down early, while Taylor made a 4.12 solo pass after Hargett was unable to answer the call to stage due to engine trouble.
In the final round, Strachan’s nitrous-boosted ’69 Camaro left with a slight .004 advantage off the start, but severe tire shake slowed him to 5.57 at just over 87 mph while Taylor made a tire-chattering, 4.01-seconds run to the victory.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it’s still a win,” Taylor said. “When the first round came around I think the track got almost too good to where it gets the tire a little bit behind and it’s just not happy when you’re putting power back to it.
“For the final I had to pedal it because it was shaking like 1.2 seconds in and I finally slapped it about two seconds into the run. I did let it shake for a pretty good ways, but then I was like, man, I better slap this thing or it’s probably going to do something stupid.”
Later, Taylor credited his brother for the tune-up and thanked Benjy Lapp of Snap-On Tools, as well as Renegade Oil & Gas and Larry Jeffers Race Cars for their continuing support. He also dedicated his race season to the memory of Paul Taylor Jr., or “Lil’ Paul” as everyone knew him.
“We were in Australia when we learned about his accident and it’s been really tough on everyone. But I’m really proud of my brother; I really couldn’t do any of this without his help,” Taylor added. “We all had a good time at the Motorplex, fun. My daughter, Emily, was there; my son Scotty, he actually lost first round with his Jr. Dragster deal, but he still had a good time. And we’re doing all this in the memory of Lil’ Paul Taylor. I’m even looking into doing a commemorative wrap on the car for him later this year. We’ll try and make that happen.”
Also scoring wins at the Texas Motorplex this past Saturday were Rog Britain with a bye run in the 5.50 final, Jay Casey with his third-straight monthly 6.0 title, and Ryan Gleghorn in 7.0 Index action. Dylan Smoot took his second consecutive 8.90 Jr. Dragster win, while top qualifier Brody Tigue also claimed his third-straight 11.90 Jr. Dragster final.
NHRA Pro Mods will return for the first time in nearly 15 years Oct. 4-7, to run the full quarter mile at the Texas Motorplex, during the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals. The Motorplex will then host the inaugural Elite 16 event Nov. 2-3, featuring $50,000 to win, the largest winner’s purse in eighth-mile Pro Mod racing nationwide.