Tag: pro mod (Page 1 of 9)


Steven Whiteley’s dreams of a Pro Mod championship came crashing down with a red-light start at the final race of the 2023 Mid-West Drag Racing Series season, but not before he’d pushed the title fight to the absolute limit. “We’re still holding our heads high,” said Whiteley, who came into this race just five points out of the lead. “We battled all year and overcame a lot. It was a hell of a comeback story, crashing at one race [Martin] and coming back to win the next one [Tulsa].”

At the MWDRS World Finals in Ferris, Texas, Whiteley and crew chief Brandon Snider clawed their way to the brink of overtaking season-long points leader Keith Haney, but with a near-miss -.013 foul start in the quarterfinals, it wasn’t to be. “I had that one in the bag,” Whiteley said. “I beat myself, took us right out of the race. I just pushed too hard, and I didn’t even need to.”

Whiteley matched his excellent 3.66 qualifying time with another 3.66 in round one that wiped out Mike Labbate and gave him a decided performance advantage over former series champion Aaron Wells in the second round, a round he absolutely had to have to take down Haney. “The car was hauling ass all weekend,” Whiteley said. “We were working hard all night to maintain lane choice, and I tried to string a few lights together to maybe intimidate Haney a little. All year, whenever we’d back up and play it safe we didn’t do as well as if we’d just kept getting after it every run, so Brandon got after it and I did, too.”

Whiteley invalidated what would’ve been a winning 3.66 while Wells, who eventually won the race, upsetting Haney on a holeshot in a wild final, mustered only a 3.88. “He had to pedal it, and that made red-lighting hurt even worse,” Whiteley said. “A .66 was a solid run, decent for the conditions and borderline good. It’s not like I had to have some perfect light to win that round; a .060 would have been more than enough.”

Compounding Whiteley’s frustration was that he made it all the way through the eighth-mile traps and well into the shutdown area without ever knowing he’d gone red. “I had no idea,” he said. “Half the guys on the team didn’t know, either. They were all celebrating back on the line, then someone came over the radio and said, ‘Hey, bud. Sorry, he got you.’ I was like, ‘What? He’s not even down here.’ I never saw him.”

Overall, Whiteley and Snider went 21-5 (.807) for the season. “It was a fun battle all year,” Whiteley said. “Between Brandon and I, we wore Haney’s ass out a few times, but hey, he did a good job – not that that makes red-lighting any less bitter. It was a weird year – weird, but good.”

PRO MOD – TULSA 2 2023

Steven Whiteley pulled off one of the biggest wins of his Pro Mod career at the Throwdown at T-Town, resurrecting his once-dwindling championship hopes with a narrow semifinal win over yearlong points leader Keith Haney and a crucial final-round decision over Blake Housley. “That,” said Whiteley, whose last race, at Martin, Mich., ended in a crash, “was big.”

Just when it seemed he was out of contention for the Mid-West Drag Series title, Whiteley thrust himself back into it, scoring in the unfamiliar confines of father Jim’s ’63 split-window Corvette. “It’s just messed up, trying to drive a different car like this,” he said. “They’re both Tommy Mauney cars, yeah, but everything’s in a different position in this car. You’re laid back more in the seat, it’s narrower, the trans-brake button is in wrong spot, the pedals are longer … nothing is where it should be.”

As big an obstacle as that clearly was – and as tough as it was to push aside the anxiety from crashing the last time he went down the track – it didn’t keep Whiteley from victory. He and crew chief/co-driver Brandon Snider overcame early qualifying struggles to qualify No. 1 with a 3.63, breezed through the first round, and trounced Tony “Sandman” Williams in the second, 3.64 to 5.88, to set up what he termed “the round of the year,” his semifinal showdown with Haney.

“That was just an awesome race,” Whiteley said. “Three-thousandths of a second in the lights.” He was quicker than Haney off the line and quicker and faster downtrack (barely), moving first by a thousandth of a second, .064 to .065, and outrunning Haney by two-thousandths, 3.617 to 3.619, with a massive top-end charge, 209 mph to 205. Haney was first to the 330-foot mark, 2.41 to 2.43, so it was only in the last few hundred feet that the J&A Service/YNot Racing team’s aging Corvette prevailed.

“This thing was running 209 mph all weekend,” Whiteley said. “209 is pretty mean for a door car. I mean, ’63 Corvettes aren’t the most aerodynamic cars out there, you know? The track was really cooling off for the final and groove was getting tight, so we made sure the track was prepped the same as it was for the semi’s and stayed aggressive with the tune-up. We didn’t back it off at all – just sent it – and hoped the car would run the same as it did.”

It ran exactly as it had a round earlier, another 3.61 at 209 mph, to stop Housley and give Whiteley new life in the championship chase. “I’m still not used to this car,” he said, “but I don’t have the luxury of having everything just the way I want it anymore. We’re trying to win a championship. At some point, you’ve got to just get in and go.”


What had already been a lousy weekend for Steven Whiteley turned downright dreadful in the first round of Pro Mod eliminations at U.S. 131 Dragway. Disaster struck when Whiteley, who, along with driver/tuner Brandon Snider, has basically been to the final round of every race all year, crashed into Ron Muenks.

Whiteley tested well leading up to the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ U.S. 131 Nationals in tiny Martin, Mich., but when the race officially began, “everything went to hell,” as he tersely remarked. “We really struggled in qualifying,” he said. “Actually, it was more than ‘struggling.’ It was a complete disaster.” Tenth and last in the short 10-car field with an aggregate best of 4.14 at 126 mph, he lined up to face Muenks, the No. 1 qualifier with an outstanding 3.62/206.

Whiteley, who got plowed into by veteran Todd Tutterow in the first round of the 2019 NHRA Heartland Nationals in Topeka, became embroiled in another two-car crash here, but this one was nothing like Topeka. It was more reminiscent of his qualifying accident at the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in 2017.

“It was exactly like Atlanta, actually,” Whiteley said, disgusted. “That’s the first thing I thought when it happened: ‘Atlanta…’ I was in the right lane, just like before, and the car kept working its way over to the right, just like before. I got the front end to come down, and then the car darted left on me.

“I thought I had it,” Whiteley said. “Pulling the chutes was going to save it – I thought. The car was already coming back around and straightening itself out, and I was just going to barely miss him. I knew I could get the front end pointed in the right direction and figured the worst that could happen was that I might pancake the wall, but I got him right between the rear wheel and the spoiler. All of a sudden, he was right there, and there was nothing I could do about it.”

As if tearing up their beautiful ’69 Camaro wasn’t awful enough, this one was doubly tough for Whiteley and the J&A Service/YNot Racing team. On the odd 10-car ladder, the winner of that first-round match with Muenks would have had a second-round bye into the semifinals, and Whiteley’s biggest rival, points leader Keith Haney, capitalized fully by going on to win the race.

PRO MOD – ST. LOUIS 2 2023

Steven Whiteley’s relentless march to the 2023 Mid-West Drag Racing Series championship continued at Worldwide Technology Raceway in a dream weekend in which teammate Brandon Snider (whose points count just the same as if Whiteley himself was driving) made the final of the rescheduled Night of Fire & Thunder Friday night and Whiteley followed with a huge Heads-Up Hootenanny victory on Saturday.

“It’s been a great season,” Whiteley said. “We started coming on strong at the last two races of ’22 – we probably would’ve won Tulsa if we hadn’t shredded all those blower belts – and it’s carried right over to this year.” Since Whiteley finished second in the Chicago-Style Second Chance Shootout at the season-opening Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod, it’s been one final after another: Snider won Tulsa, Whiteley made the final in Noble, Snider got second here, and Whiteley just brought down his biggest win since his career breakthrough at the 2017 NHRA Gatornationals.

Driving father Jim’s immaculate J&A Service ’69 Camaro, Whiteley qualified No. 2 and sailed through the first two rounds of eliminations, dispatching overmatched Robbie Vander Woude’s ’00 Camaro, 3.69/206 to 4.00/194, and Blake Housley’s classic ’41 Willys, 3.66/206 to 3.82/192. The stakes went way up in the semifinals against championship rival Keith Haney, and Snider, Whiteley’s irreplaceable crew chief, was ready for what both knew would be their biggest round so far this season.

Snider, who’d dumped Haney Friday night in a crucial semifinal decision, dialed up Whiteley’s best run of eliminations to that point, and Whiteley did his part behind the wheel, nailing Haney at the line and leading wire to wire for a 3.63/207 to 3.65/206 win that propelled the team into its fifth final of 2023. “That was huge,” Whiteley said. “Haney and I have had a rivalry going all year, the announcers were really playing it up, the crowd was into it, and we got it done again. Brandon beat him Friday night and I got him tonight.”

In the final, Whiteley produced his best run of the weekend, a 3.62/208, against the 217-mph turbocharged ’69 Camaro of No. 1 qualifier Mark Micke, who was coming off a big win the previous evening. Micke blew the engine in a huge cloud of smoke and never came around Whiteley, as he had the night before against Snider. “There was just smoke everywhere,” Whiteley said. “I could see it from inside the car. We’re leading the championship right now and really focused on these last three races. We just have to keep the momentum going.”

PRO MOD – ST. LOUIS 1 2023

Steven Whiteley doesn’t particularly care who drives his car – talented driver/tuner Brandon Snider or him. To him, it still it isn’t that strange to stand on the starting line and watch his car charge down the track with someone else at the wheel.

“It really isn’t,” Whiteley insisted. “I get asked that a lot, but, first of all, it’s not my car – it’s my dad’s. I know Brandon’s driving style, and he’s good. Really good. He’s a lot better than I ever was. I’ll stage and wonder, ‘Did I do this right? Did I do that right? Is this the right rpm?’ He never thinks anything like that.”

At the rain-delayed Night of Fire & Thunder, contested in conjunction with the originally scheduled Heads-Up Hootenanny, Snider pulled off something even more important than winning: he took out rival Keith Haney, the biggest obstacle between Whiteley and his first Mid-West Drag Racing Series championship.

Snider proved his worth from the start, six weeks ago on the original date, when he tuned and drove the car to the No. 1 spot by more than a tenth and a half with a 3.69 at 205 mph, securing a first-round bye in the 13-car field. On that single, he came within thousandths of a second of low E.T. of the round with a 3.72/203, second only to hard-charging Mark Micke’s 3.71 at 215 mph, which was top speed of the meet by nearly 10 mph.

It set up a massive quarterfinal clash with Haney, which Snider won with a better light (.063 to .075) and a quicker (3.64 to 3.70) and faster (208 mph to 201 mph) pass. “The way he tunes the car shows how much more analytical he is than I am,” Whiteley modestly said. “I’m just a driver. I let go of the trans-brake button and send it, then tell Brandon what I felt when I get out of the car. He knows what’s going on the whole time – in or out of the seat.”

Snider then mowed down Jerry Hunter in the semi’s, 3.69/207 to Hunter’s slowing 3.85/187, but Micke grabbed the upper hand for the final on a 3.65/217 single. Picking up significantly to a 3.66/207, Snider gave the J&A Service/YNot Racing team a real chance in the final, but Micke ran him down before the eighth-mile with a superior 3.64/217.

“Brandon was winning,” Whiteley said, “but against that turbo car there’s not much you can do after half-track. He outran us, but that wasn’t the big thing for us this weekend. Beating Haney was the big thing, and Brandon beat him.”


Back in the car for the first time since March, Pro Mod veteran Steven Whiteley picked up right where he left off in Bradenton – in the final.

Runner-up earlier this season in the Chicago-Style Second Chance Shootout at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod, Whiteley found himself at the precipice of victory once again here at the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ Thunder in the Valley only to fall just short. He qualified No. 1 at the Noble, Okla., facility and powered through the preliminary rounds before fading in the final against Tulsa track owner Keith “You Know My Name” Haney.

From the pole position, Whiteley trounced No. 12 qualifier Joshua Vettel in the opening round with a remarkably consistent 3.68 at 204.40 mph, easily covering Vettel’s coasting 5.72 at 81 mph. Brian Lewis was the next to go, narrowly red-lighting with a -.002 reaction time and slowing to a 4.27/125 while Whiteley moved on with a consistent 3.68/204. Qualifying No. 1 in a 12-car field afforded the YNot Racing/J&A Service team a semifinal bye and with it a chance to test for the final, but Whiteley was off the throttle well before the finish line on a slowing 4.30/124.

In the other semi, Haney, who’d matched Whiteley’s pole-qualifying 3.664 right down to the thousandth of second in a quarterfinal victory over perennial top-speed setter Ed Thornton, took down Albuquerque’s Mike Labbate in a great race, barely overcoming Labbate’s holeshot head start. After missing the Tree with a drowsy .104 reaction time, Haney held off Labbate’s 214-mph top end charge to advance by the invisible margin of one-thousandth of a second.

In the final, in a battle of the top two drivers in the 2023 MWDRS standings with a $2500 side bet on the line, Whiteley left noticeably ahead of Haney with a .039 light and was headed to victory only to slow on the top end. Haney claimed low E.T. of the meet with a 3.662 at 203.23 mph while Whiteley’s immaculate ’69 Camaro fell off to a 3.79 at 163 mph.


At the rescheduled Mid-West Drag Racing Series season opener, held at Tulsa Raceway Park in conjunction with the Throwdown in T-Town, talented driver/crew chief Brandon Snider, subbing for team owner and driver Steven Whiteley, did all a replacement driver could possibly do: he won.

Snider, a former NHRA championship runner-up who expertly calls the mechanical shots for Whiteley’s J&A Service ’69 Camaro, ascended from the 16th and last spot in the field to win it all, single-handedly topping some of the biggest names in MWDRS Pro Mod racing in the process. The weekend, which ended with both Snider and Top Alcohol Funny Car teammate Annie Whiteley in the winner’s circle, got off to a harrowing start when Snider barely squeaked into the program, 16th of 17 entrants on the grid.

The YNot Racing team came to life in the first round of eliminations when Snider stormed to a 3.71 at 204.29 mph, a time good enough to have qualified in the top three, to easily dispatch No. 1 qualifier Ron Muenks (3.66), who slowed to a troubled 4.99 at just over 100 mph. Veteran Ed Thornton was the next to go, falling in the second round to the Atmore, Ala., driver’s torrid 3.71 with a not-bad 3.78. Snider left first by more than a tenth with a fine .039 reaction time that actually was his slowest of the event, and followed by taking out both track co-owners in the late rounds – Todd Martin in the semifinals and Keith Haney in the final.

Snider’s best reaction time of the event kept him in front from start to finish against Martin, who came closer to beating him than anyone did all weekend. Martin was right on time with a .026 reaction time, but Snider had him covered with a clutch .012. The final was over quickly when Snider, who never trailed at any point in any round and got quicker and faster every time, trounced Haney’s aborted 4.91/104 with a smooth 3.68/205.


In his first appearance of 2023, in one of the most highly anticipated events in class history, Steven Whiteley was part of a swarm of drivers who descended upon Orlando, Fla., for the prestigious Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod. Runner-up at the inaugural event and a past NHRA national event champion, he made it all the way to the final round – sort of.

Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot Racing team actually fell short of the 32-car bump, but this was one time it was actually OK to not qualify: where else is there a whole other race for teams that miss the cut? Only the World Series of Pro Mod features the Chicago-Style Second Chance Shootout, and Whiteley qualified No. 2 for that field and opened an early lead on Melanie Salemi in the final.

“This whole deal is fun,” Whiteley said. “It’s a lot bigger than the first World Series [in Denver in 2017, where he made it to the final]. There’s more fans, more hype, more everything. I just like outlaw stuff like this, always have.”

With 60-some Pro Mods in the Bradenton Motorsports Park pits, trying to make the lineup was, as expected, absolutely brutal. Less than six-hundredths of a second separated the entire field, from No. 1 Johnny Camp’s 3.626 to the 32nd-best 3.682 of Spencer Hyde, who, against all odds, made it to the $100,000 winner-take-all final against Kurt Steding and won it.

Whiteley landed a disappointing 36th in the final order, only eight-thousandths of a second but a full four spots outside the field. “We didn’t do any good here in qualifying,” he said. “We sucked, actually. That’s the simplest way to put it: we sucked.”

Granted a rare reprieve by the special format, Whiteley’s team did anything but in the Chicago Style Second Chance Shootout. Only the two quickest drivers in the one-shot, last-ditch session would run for the money, and Whiteley ended up second with a 3.69, behind only Salemi’s 3.66. He was one of four drivers to run 3.69 but was the quickest with a 3.690, thousandths ahead of Joe Albrecht’s 3.691, Steve King’s 3.696, and Mike Decker Jr.’s 3.697.

Opposite Salemi in the $10,000 finale, Whiteley was halfway through low gear when the third member gave out. “We had what we thought was a .65 in the car,” he said. “I had her by a couple [hundredths of a second] on the Tree and she ran a .64, so a .65 should’ve been good enough to win, but who knows? We thought we were going to qualify in the top 32, too. It definitely would have been a good race, though – that I can say for sure.”


With a quarterfinal finish at the Xtreme Texas World Finals, Steven Whiteley wrapped up a successful season second in the final Mid-West Drag Racing Series Pro Mod standings, with an 8-8 win-loss record, two semifinal showings and a pair of No. 1-qualifying efforts (both in Tulsa). “It was a good ‘starter’ season,” he said. “We could’ve capitalized on a few more opportunities, but overall I’d say this was a good year. Now my priority is winning a Mid-West championship, and if next year is our time, we’re going to hurt some feelings.”

The top three cars all ran 3.65s, and Whiteley, who qualified with a 3.64 or 3.65 at the past four races, ended up second with a 3.655, just ahead of No. 3 Ron Muenks’ 3.659 and right behind points leader Dustin Nesloney’s 3.651. He drilled the Tree for a .000 reaction time on a first-round single, then just missed another perfect light against Brian Lewis in the quarterfinals, where a -.009 foul brought his season to a close.

“A brake line was leaking a little,” Whiteley said. “They stop me two or three feet from the beams to adjust the wheelie bar, and a little more and more fluid was leaking out the whole time I was sitting there holding the brake. The red-light … that really took me by surprise. After being trip-zip on the bye first round, I thought, ‘OK, I know where I stand.’ I backed off a little and thought I compensated for the darkness, but it came up red, so that’s on me.”

Whiteley qualified the J&A Service YNot Racing Camaro in the top half every time and the car was running better at Xtreme Raceway Park than it has all year. “We put a new bullet in it for this race, and downtrack the engine wasn’t even sweating,” he said. “Sometimes, at the end of the year you’re ready for it to be over, but I’m more excited than ever. When we left the track, I was stoked. This is just about the fastest car out here, and I’m ready to go right now.”


At the second-to-last race of the 2022 Mid-West Drag Racing Series Pro Mod season, Steven Whiteley delivered on the promise he’s shown all year, pacing the field with an outstanding 3.64 – the exact E.T. mom Annie Whiteley recorded to lead the Funny Car program.

“You get additional runs here because you just ran a whole race [the rescheduled Great Bend event] a day ago, so there’s a lot more opportunity,” Whiteley said. “But it’s not just that. The weather conditions all weekend were favorable to our team, and not just our car – all the YNot cars seem to run good at Tulsa.”

Whiteley, who fell just short of 210 mph on the 3.64, was joined in the .60s by eventual winner Dustin Nesloney, who won the rescheduled Great Bend event earlier in the weekend; Kentucky’s Tommy Cunningham; series founder and Tulsa Raceway Park co-owner Keith Haney; and the 220-mph Second Gen Camaro of Ed Thornton.

Whiteley wasn’t the only driver in the 3.60s, but he had the field covered early on race day, too, wheeling the J&A Service/YNot Racing ’69 Camaro to not just low E.T. of eliminations but the two lowest E.Ts.: 3.67 and 3.63. A 3.67/207 in the opening round was the quickest run of all 16 qualifiers and handily erased Brian Lewis’ respectable 3.76/199, and he established low E.T. of the entire event in a 3.63/208 demolition of Mark “Tydo” Werdehausen’s slowing 4.89/152 in the quarterfinals.

When the blower belt snapped in the semifinals, silencing his engine and costing him the race, Whiteley absorbed a disappointing 3.66/213 to 6.62/67 loss to Nesloney, who extended his already insurmountable points lead. “We were on a tear, but we keep killing blower belts,” he said. “The two-step is really hard on them. We were only getting five runs on a belt, then it was three runs, then two, and then this one broke on the first run. A burnout and a launch, and a brand-new lets go. It’s too bad – we really had the car to beat all weekend.”

The YNot Pro Mod team now stands second in the MWDRS standings, joining mom Annie, who’s second in Funny Car and wife Delaina, who’s second in Top Dragster behind Whiteley’s aunt, reigning series Anita Pulliam-Strasburg.

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