The stars of Pro Modified will converge on Bradenton Motorsports Park this weekend for the fourth Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod presented by J&A Service, March 3-5. Over 50 drivers were invited to fight for the 32 qualifying spots and a shot at the $100,000 winner-take-all prize.
The three-day event will also include the $25,000-to-win $hameless Racing Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational presented by Seminole Paving, the $20,000-to-win Xtreme Front-Wheel Drive Challenge, and the $15,000-to-win D H Davies Racing Factory Stock Classic. Sportsman racers in Top Dragster and Super Pro will race for $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.
“I’m genuinely excited for this weekend,” said Wes Buck, Drag Illustrated founder and WSOPM promoter. “I can feel the stars and moon aligning. Something special is about to happen in the sport of drag racing. I feel strongly this sport needed disrupting. Drag racing is blessed to have such a rich history and so many longstanding traditions, but it’s time for something new. It’s time for something different.”
“I am beyond excited,” added Victor Alvarez, owner, Bradenton Motorsports Park. “The people started rolling in Sunday, and the energy and excitement is just contagious. Everyone is so excited to be here and to see who wins. The field is so good, it’s really anybody’s race to win across all classes.”
The WSOPM event format is a departure from most major drag racing events. After qualifying, all heads-up classes will draw chips to determine their first-round matchups. The quicker qualified driver will get lane choice. Chip draws will determine all pairings throughout heads-up eliminations, with the quicker driver earning lane choice.
“Fans can expect a show like they’ve never experienced before,” Buck said. “The World Series of Pro Mod is undoubtedly a highly competitive event, but we’re in show business. Above all else, we are here to put on a show, and I believe that every single one of our superstar drivers understands the responsibility that comes with that. Fans are going to notice a unique pacing to our event. They’ll see that it is visually different than any other drag race. They’ll notice the atmosphere is different. All of us have an opportunity this weekend to be a part of drag racing history.”
The list of invited Pro Mod drivers includes reigning champions Jim Halsey (PDRA Pro Nitrous), Todd “King Tut” Tutterow (PDRA Pro Boost), Dustin Nesloney (MWDRS Pro Mod), Randy Merrick (NMCA Xtreme Pro Mod), Mike Decker Jr. (NEOPMA), and Jason Lee (Radial Outlaws Radial vs. the World). Past world champions in the field include “Tricky” Rickie Smith, Tommy Franklin, Jason Harris, Jason Scruggs, Khalid Balooshi, Brandon Snider, Kevin Rivenbark, Chip King, and Bubba Stanton. Major event winners and stars like Melanie Salemi, Mark Micke, Manny Buginga, Lyle Barnett, Ken Quartuccio, and 2017 WSOPM event champion Mike Bowman are also on the entry list.
Before chasing the $100,000 payday on Sunday, Pro Mod competitors will get the chance to qualify in four sessions – two on Friday and two on Saturday. At the end of qualifying, the No. 1 qualifier will pocket $10,000 thanks to Mike Janis Superchargers.
The inaugural $hameless Racing Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational presented by Seminole Paving will bring together standout drivers like reigning PDRA Extreme Pro Stock world champion Johnny Pluchino, past world champions Chris Powers, Steven Boone, and John Montecalvo, and five-time and reigning NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders, who’s set to make her MMPS debut. The low qualifier will earn a $1,500 bonus courtesy of Real Pro Stock’s Scott Soucy.
Friday’s night qualifying session will see over a dozen heavyweight matchups for WSOPM Rivals Night. In Pro Mod, matchups include Jim Halsey vs. Jay Cox, Jason Scruggs vs. Frankie Taylor, Mark Micke vs. Mark Werdehausen, Tommy Franklin vs. Keith Haney, and in a rematch of the inaugural WSOPM final round, Mike Bowman vs. Steven Whiteley. The MMPS Rivals Night lineup is headlined by the battle between reigning world champions Johnny Pluchino and Erica Enders.
The Xtreme Front-Wheel Drive Challenge is an effort by Buck and Alvarez to bridge the gap between the Pro Mod and import racing communities. The invite-only field features hitters like Kevin Aleman, Wes Spry, Nichole Elff, Joel Tavarez, and Jayson Bello. The XFWD Challenge is a quarter-mile class.
“I am really excited to see XFWD racing at an event of this caliber,” said Alvarez, who is also competing in the iconic “Goldie” entry formerly driven by his late friend, Robert Mapps. “I have been advocating for this class for a few years now and to see it growing is exciting.
“Racing Goldie is exciting – it is a very special car and the history behind this car is a big part of why I got involved with XFWD,” Alvarez continued. “My late friend Rob Mapps driving Goldie is what first caught my attention, which led to me racing the class alongside him, and now I have the opportunity to carry the torch. This car has always been a force to be reckoned with no matter who has driven it, and we have been working hard to make sure that it still is. We hope to have a great year in XFWD and be a contender at all races we attend.”
The D H Davies Racing Factory Stock Classic rounds out the lineup of heads-up categories that will be competing at the WSOPM. With a rules set that accepts entries from multiple Factory Stock categories, the quarter-mile Factory Stock Classic will see drivers like Mark “The Cowboy” Pawuk, David Davies, David Barton, Scott Libersher, AJ Berge, Warren Walcher, and Lindsay Wheelock race their hard-charging muscle cars.
Like all past WSOPMs, the 2023 edition will include sportsman racing. This time, it’s in the form of Top Dragster and Super Pro, both of which will compete over the eighth mile.
“We added these classes as a way to involve Bradenton’s incredibly strong local racer base, but we’ve seen entries come in from around the country,” Buck said. “Top Dragster is such a popular eliminator from the national level to regional and local series. Add in Super Pro – a group of racers that supports local tracks across the country – and we’ve got a fantastic sportsman contingent to complement our ‘pro’ classes.”
All WSOPM entries include two days of testing on Wednesday and Thursday. At the end of Thursday testing, the Strange Engineering Racer Welcome Party will officially kick off the festivities. Super Pro time trials and Top Dragster qualifying is set to start Friday at 11:45 a.m., with Pro Mod and all other heads-up qualifying scheduled for 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday will follow the same schedule. Once qualifying is complete Saturday night, heads-up racers will draw chips to set first-round pairings. On race day Sunday, Super Pro and Top Dragster eliminations begin at 10:30 a.m. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
Single-day general admission tickets are available online or at the gate for $30 each day. Fans can also watch the race through the official event livestream on FloRacing.