John Force has driven more than 30 drag racing Funny Cars in a career spanning four decades, everything from Chevrolets to Pontiacs to Oldsmobiles to Fords. In largely the same time frame, Charles Carpenter has driven only one – an iconic 1955 Chevy Bel Air in which he will try to win this week’s Extreme Outlaw Pro Modified title during the annual Super Chevy Show at Steve Earwood’s Rockingham Dragway.
The three-day extravaganza celebrating all things Chevrolet is presented by Chevrolet Performance and Richmond County Tourism and will include a car show, swap meet and vendor midway as well as a full complement of racing events including GM-only ET bracket races on both Saturday and Sunday.
The highlight, though, will be Carpenter’s pursuit of a title in competition with some of the top cars and drivers in the Extreme Outlaw Pro Modified series including former IHRA Pro Modified champion Tommy Mauney of Shelby, S.C., and Kernersville’s Doug Winters, whose supercharged 1957 Bel Air has a Carolina following of its own.
While Carpenter and Force both are icons of the sport – Force in an NHRA Funny Car division over which he has reigned 15 times and Carpenter in a Pro Mod category he actually had a hand in creating, they share much more than just their longevity. In fact, both survived crashes that would have chased lesser men out of the sport. Ironically, Force suffered his most serious injuries in a 2007 crash in Dallas, Texas; Carpenter in Houston, Texas.
The man who’s been called “the Father of Pro Mod” racing suffered a fractured vertebrae, among other injuries, when his car veered out of control and climbed the guardwall, sliding down it on two wheels in March, 2009. Like Force, he never thought about not coming back.
Instead, he focused on making the latest incarnation of this popular ‘55 safer. The fact that it also was quicker and faster is beside the point. Using carbon fiber and titanium and an 864 cubic inch Chevy engine with a four-stage nitrous oxide system, Carpenter recently covered the eighth mile course, from a standing start, in career best 3.92 seconds. That’s the kind of performance that produceed a pair of Pro Nitrous victories in the American Drag Racing League, one at Norwalk, Ohio, and the other, ironically, at Houston.
A Chevy purist, Carpenter never has driven anything other than an ‘55 – at least not on the racetrack. At age 14, he started racing in a ‘55 model he bought from his brother and was a top sportsman racer until the late ‘70s when smaller, more aerodynamic models like the Vega and Monza began to dominate.
“It got to where my car was almost not competitive,” Carpenter recalled, “and then they allowed us to use nitrous oxide. That was in the early ‘80s and when we started using the nitrous, it suddenly caught me up with the smaller, more aerodynamic cars. Then the media picked up on it. They loved that a ‘shoebox,’ a big, boxy car, was out there racing with these sleek little aerodynamic cars.”
Carpenter’s success was the first step in the creation of a Pro Mod class that featured quick, fast cars in packages that were unexpected – 1955 and 1957 Bel Airs, 1968 and 1969 Camaros and 1963 Corvettes.
In addition to winning the overall Super Chevy Series title in 1988 and 1989 (and earning runner-up honors the next two years). Carpenter was the United States Super Circuit champ in 1992 and he remains viable today in a joint effort with son Mike, the art director for Drag Illustrated Magazine, who doubles as crew chief and PR director on his dad’s nostalgic “shoebox.”
“I think I am a lucky man,” Carpenter said of the accident. “The part that bothered me the most was my son standing there watching it. He and I have had this conversation, if he was in that car, I can’t image what I would be thinking. “By the same token, it’s a testimonial to what we do,” said the North Carolinian. “I have preached this for 30-plus years: if you wear your safety equipment and you stay in the car and the car stays within the confines of the race track, you walk away (more than 90) percent of the time.”
A special 12 noon-to-7 p.m. test-and-tune for Super Chevy Show contestants will begin the program on Friday. Saturday’s pro qualifying at 12 noon, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. will share center stage with GM-only Pro ET and Footbrake races and the first of two Junior Drag Racing events.
On Sunday, Pro ET drivers will compete for a $3,000 top prize in a DriveDuracell.com event starting at 10:30 a.m. Champions also will be crowned in Footbrake, Junior Dragster, DOT Street and Real Street. For the Pro Mods, “last chance” qualifying will be conducted at 11 a.m. Sunday with single elimination finals beginning at 12:30 p.m.
General admission tickets for the Super Chevy Show are $20 daily or $35 for a weekend pass which includes Friday. Tickets for those 6-12 are $5 daily or $10 for the weekend, including Friday. For more information, go to www.rockinghamdragway.com
The Super Chevy Show presented by Chevrolet Performance and Richmond County Tourism takes its nationwide celebration of the American Muscle Car to new extremes this week (October 19-21) in its annual return to Steve Earwood’s Rockingham Dragway.
In addition to all-things Chevrolet, from show cars to a swap meet to a vendor midway displaying all manner of bow-tie products and paraphernalia, the three-day extravaganza will feature the cars of the Extreme Outlaw Pro Modified series competing in the Beal Racing Engines Pro Mod Shootout.
Two-time former Super Chevy Series Pro Mod champion Charles Carpenter of Charlotte, driver of the world’s quickest and fastest 1955 Chevy; 1995 IHRA Pro Mod champion Tommy Mauney of the Shelby, S.C., Ed Hoover of Gilbert, S.C., winner of the first IHRA Pro Mod race ever contested; former IHRA Raiders Division Top Sportsman champion DeWayne Silance of Jacksonville; Kernersville’s Doug Winters, driver of the world’s fastest 1957 Chevy; and former NHRA Pro Mod tour regular Steve Vick of Mocksville are among the members of the bow-tie brigade expected to compete.
Among the others expected to line up for Saturday qualifying sessions at 12 noon, 2 p.m. and five p.m. will be the “Christine” Plymouth Fury of Mooresville’s Chris Cline, the supercharged 1941 Willys of Washington’s Kevin Mayer, the late model nitrous-boosted Ford Mustang of Mocksville’s Todd Howard and the supercharged 1972 Plymouth Duster of James Litton of Columbia, S.C.
“I just love those cars,” Earwood said, “and it’s been awhile since we’ve had Pro Mods of this caliber at The Rock. Anybody that’s ever seen them knows that they are the most challenging vehicles to get down a racetrack. They’re a great addition to the Super Chevy program everyone has been looking forward to since last year.”
A special 12 noon-to-7 p.m. test-and-tune for Super Chevy Show contestants will begin the program on Friday. Saturday’s pro qualifying will share center stage with GM-only Pro ET and Footbrake races and the first of two Junior Drag Racing events. Sunday, Pro ET drivers will compete for a $3,000 top prize in a DriveDuracell.com event starting at 10:30 a.m. Champions also will be crowned in Footbrake, Junior Dragster, DOT Street and Real Street.
For the Pro Mods, “last chance” qualifying will be conducted at 11 a.m. Sunday with single elimination finals beginning at 12:30 p.m. Show car awards will be presented on the main stage at 3 p.m.
General admission tickets for the Super Chevy Show are $20 daily or $35 for a weekend pass which includes Friday. Tickets for those 6-12 are $5 daily or $10 for the weekend, including Friday.
For more information, head over to www.rockinghamdragway.com
Super Chevy Show, Fun Ford Weekend, and Mega Mopar Action Series to Host 33 Events in 2013
Manufacturers Series Adds Bakersfield’s Auto Club Famoso Raceway to its List of Host Tracks
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (October 11, 2012) – The Manufacturers Series, as they are collectively known, consists of the Super Chevy Show, Fun Ford Weekend, and Mega Mopar Action events touring the U.S. and Canada each season. The popular events feature car show, drag race, swap meet, car corral, and autocross (at selected events) as the elements that bring thousands of fans and participants out to the shows.
In addition to hosting an increased amount of events in 2013, the Manufacturers Series will also visit a new venue at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield with all three name badges – Super Chevy Show, Fun Ford Weekend, and Mega Mopar Action hosting events in California during the months of May, June, and October respectively.
The Super Chevy Show presented by Chevrolet Performance continues its journey to 12-North American venues in 2013, and is highlighted by a first ever “Doubleheader” when the series hosts two events on the September 27-29 weekend at Bristol Dragway and Royal Purple Raceway. The Bowtie events begin the 2013 season at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, FL on March 22-24, and conclude at Rockingham Dragway in Rockingham, NC on October 18-20.
Fun Ford Weekend events kick-off the season on the same weekend as its Chevy counterpart, but in a different warm weather climate at the Houston’s Royal Purple Raceway on Saturday, March 23. From there, the series will head west to California for its new event at Bakersfield’s Auto Club Famoso Raceway on May 4-5, and work its way through the season ending event at Palm Beach Int’l. Raceway in Jupiter, FL on September 13-14.
The Mega Mopar Action series has shown the largest growth for the 2013 season, adding five new tracks to the name sake series of Mopar Action Magazine. New markets for the Mega Mopar Action series include the season opener at Rockingham Dragway on April 6, followed by visits to St. Louis, Edmonton, Palm Beach, and the season ending event at Bakersfield on October 5-6.
For more information visit: www.mfgseries.com or www.superchevyshow.com
2013 Super Chevy Show Series presented by Chevrolet Performance
March 22-24 Palm Beach Int’l Raceway Jupiter, FL
April 12-14 Memphis Int’l Raceway Memphis, TN
May 3-4 Texas Motorplex Dallas, TX
May 17-19 Virginia Motorsports Park Petersburg, VA
May 31-June 2 Auto Club Famoso Raceway Bakersfield, CA
June 28-30 Gateway Motorsports Park St. Louis, MO
July 19-21 Maple Grove Raceway Reading, PA
August 16-17 Bandimere Speedway Denver, CO
August 31 Castrol Raceway Edmonton, AB, Canada
Sept 27-29 Bristol Dragway Bristol, TN Doubleheader
Sept 27-29 Royal Purple Raceway Houston, TX Doubleheader
October 18-20 Rockingham Dragway Rockingham, NC
2013 Fun Ford Weekend Series
March 23 Royal Purple Raceway Houston, TX
May 4-5 Auto Club Famoso Raceway Bakersfield, CA
May 18-19 Rockingham Dragway Rockingham, NC
June 7-8 Memphis Int’l Raceway Memphis, TN
June 15-16 Virginia Motorsports Park Petersburg, VA
June 23 Bandimere Speedway Denver, CO
July 19-21 Gateway Motorsports Park St. Louis, MO
August 11 Castrol Raceway Edmonton, AB, Canada
August 17-18 Maple Grove Raceway Reading, PA
Sept. 6-7 Texas Motorplex Dallas, TX
Sept. 13-14 Palm Beach Int’l Raceway Jupiter, FL
Date TBD Bristol Dragway Bristol, TN
2013 Mega Mopar Action Series
April 6 Rockingham Dragway Rockingham, NC
April 26-27 Texas Motorplex Dallas, TX
May 17-19 Gateway Motorsports Park St. Louis, MO
June 2 Bandimere Speedway Denver, CO
June 22-23 Maple Grove Raceway Reading, PA
July 27 Castrol Raceway Edmonton, AB, Canada
Sept. 15 Palm Beach Int’l Raceway Jupiter, FL
Sept. 21-22 Virginia Motorsports Park Petersburg, VA
October 5-6 Auto Club Famoso Raceway Bakersfield, CA