An increasingly competitive $hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632 class made sure Wes Distefano didn’t have an easy road to his second consecutive Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) world championship. Still, Distefano made it look easy with four wins and three runner-up finishes in the eight-race 2021 PDRA season.
“It’s not that we expected to come out and win the championship again,” Distefano said. “We fought and we enjoyed the challenge and the adversity and we just worked through it right up until it was clinched. We never took it for granted. We just worked and did our job. As soon as it was done, it was on to the next thing. We wanted to win the next race.”
The first of three runner-up finishes came at the season-opening East Coast Nationals presented by FuelTech at GALOT Motorsports Park. At the next race, the inaugural Stroud Safety Doorslammer Derby presented by Classic Graphix at Beech Bend Raceway Park, Distefano qualified No. 1, crushed the class E.T. record, and won the event.
Distefano in his Musi-powered $hameless Racing/Race Star Wheels ’68 Camaro went on to also win the North vs. South Shootout presented by Line-X at Maryland International Raceway, the P2 Contracting Northern Nationals presented by P2 Racing at Maple Grove Raceway, and Proline Racing DragWars presented by Modern Racing at GALOT, where Distefano clinched the championship.
“I think I’ve done better as a driver this year,” Distefano said. “I tightened up on my reaction times. There may have been an intimidation factor at times. But we just didn’t go out and make a lot of mistakes. The car was consistent. My driving was pretty consistent and actually got a little better towards the end, which was nice. I clinched the thing on a holeshot. It was really just an all-around team effort.”
Distefano credited his team led by Troy and Shawne Russell, as well as his parents, David and Brenda Swallow, and the team’s supporters like Pat Musi, Dean Marinis, Race Star Wheels, Neal Chance Racing Converters, Rossler Transmissions, Carmack Engineering, and the PDRA contingency sponsors.
In addition to winning four PDRA races and the championship, Distefano had a wildly successful season at standalone races. He won the $15,000-to-win World Doorslammer Nationals in Orlando early in the year, the inaugural $7,500-to-win Summit Racing Equipment PDRA ProStars race at VMP over the summer, and most recently the World Street Nationals at Orlando.
It’s been a complete turnaround from Distefano’s 2020 championship season when he won just one race in a handful of final-round appearances.
“Going from 2020 to this year, getting four wins, plus the auxiliary wins, winning has just become a habit,” Distefano said. “It’s what we expect. It’s what we practice and prepare for. The championship is a grueling battle. There’s a lot of drama that plays out over the season within a class and things happen. It’s a battle of longevity, really.”
As for next season, Distefano teased changes coming soon, with an announcement planned for after the PRI Show.
The PDRA will celebrate Distefano and its other 2021 world champions at the annual PDRA Awards Banquet on Friday, Dec. 10 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.