Billes Records Third AMS Pro Mod Challenge Win of 2004 in E-Town
Billes Overcomes Engines Woes to Score First IHRA Pro Mod Win of 2004
Courtesy of Brian Wood www.competitionplus.com
Season-ending Statement - Courtesy of Al Billes!
Canada's most prolific Pro Modified class racer, Al Billes, went for the jugular during last weekend's IHRA event in North Carolina and that may have produced his most impressive career victory yet.....
Driving the ultra-powerful Stratford Motor Products-sponsored '53 Corvette, the Barrie, Ontario-based driver left very little on the table while winning the IHRA's season-ending Bethesda Softworks World Finals -- his 10th career IHRA national event victory. Billes proved he had the quickest car in the massive and record-setting Pro Modified program when he unloaded a career quick 6.102 secs during qualifying and then never looked back.
On raceday Sunday, Billes and his team got progressively quicker while disposing of the field in consistent fashion. After opening final eliminations with a 6.224 secs 227.19 mph win over Ronnie Hood, Billes carded three straight runs at 6.196, 6.195, and 6.191 (secs) while beating Von Smith, fellow Canadian Carl Spiering and ultimately Mike Castellana in the championship final. Billes's victory came over the quickest 16-car assembly of Pro Mod cars yet (featuring a stunning 6.226 secs bump spot) and vaulted the talented driver into a 2nd place finish in final 2004 Hooters Drag Racing Series points. That is the third time that Billes has finished 2nd in final IHRA Pro Mod points.
"Going into the event we knew there would be close to 50 cars," said Billes. "Our objective was just to qualify and then take things from there. After we went a couple rounds I began to think we could win this thing. In the final after I swapped feet and then saw Mike fall back I thought for a moment I might have redlit. Then I was just praying -- don't break -- don't break! Its funny all the thoughts that can run through your mind in just a little over six seconds."
Billes's 6.102 secs was in fact a new IHRA national ET record for Pro Mod cars. He used a similar 6.127 secs time trial run which was well within the required 1%.
"We always knew the car had the power to be the quickest -- it was just a matter of putting it all together," Al reflected about the new national mark. "We finally figured out the car at Budds Creek -- but our performance here had a lot to do with the conditions. The surface was phenomenal and the weather was cool and overcast. That was the key to both the speed and the consistency."
Al Billes will round out his 2004 racing season at the AMS Pro Mod Final round during NHRA's ACDelco Las Vegas nationals next weekend. Billes, who has 3 AMS Staff Leasing Challenge wins to his credit this season, currently sits second in points 300 behind leader Mike Ashley. With some 500 total points available at the final event, a potential AMS Pro Mod Challenge championship also remains within his reach.
(Bruce Biegler photos) www.dragracecanada.com
ODDY AND BILLES FORM PROMOD SUPER TEAM
"I just can't imagine a better person or driver to fill Fred Hahn's position on the team," said team owner Jim Oddy. "I've known Al since he started driving, I sold him engines when he first started and watched him become one of the best drivers and tuners in Pro Mod. The fact that he finished second in NHRA and IHRA Championship points this season and currently holds the IHRA ET record tells you all you need to know about his talent both as a driver and tuner."
Billes will be much more than just the new driver of Jim Oddy's Summit Racing Equipment-backed car. The 2005 season will see a two-car effort for the Jim Oddy Racing team. Billes' '53 Corvette will be painted identical to Oddy's new Dodge Stratus and will have sponsorship from Oddy Racing's primary sponsor Summit Racing Equipment and major associates Isky Racing Cams and Blower Drive Service and all other associates.
The 'Vette will compete in selected races on the AMS/NHRA circuit and in Canada with an engine program developed using NHRA rules. The team's 2005 Dodge Stratus will compete for the IHRA World Championship and have a dedicated engine program based on IHRA rules. Billes will drive both cars.
"We will race both cars but our main efforts will be to win the 2005 IHRA World Championship for Summit Racing Equipment and all of our other sponsors," said Oddy.
Oddy, based in Elma, NY, and Billes, from Barrie, Ontario, Canada, both will retain their own race shops and dyno facilities in order to prepare and maintain both cars at championship levels.
"I can't tell you how excited and proud I am to be chosen by Jim to drive for his team," said Billes. "I just want to race and win a World Championship. I think driving and working with Jim and the rest of the Summit Racing Equipment team gives me the best opportunity to do that I've ever had. I do have one personal goal and that is to be the first Canadian Pro Mod driver to win a World Championship. I think driving for Jim can make that happen."
The team plans to get both cars and engine programs race ready then begin pre-season testing early in 2005 to get Billes and the team comfortable and familiar with each other. The new Stratus will debut at the first IHRA race of the season, March 31 in San Antonio, Texas.
"Our goals for next season are the same as they were last season and every season that I have raced," said Oddy. "To win races, have fun and if possible win a championship for our sponsors."
Major sponsorship for Jim Oddy Racing in 2005 comes from Summit Racing Equipment; major associates include Isky Racing Cams, Blower Drive Service, Red Line Oil, Hoosier Tires and MSD.
Courtesy of Jeff Burk
FIRST LOOK AT ODDY'S NEW PRO MOD DESIGNS
Jim Oddy's new Dodge Stratus has been picked up at Jerry
Bickel's Missouri shop and is back in Oddy's Elma, NY engine shop for completion. This
year theSummit Racing Equipment-backed supercharged Pro Mod will be driven by Al
Billes in the IHRA Hooters series and will debut at the Amalie Oil Texas
Nationals in San Antonio March 31-April 2.
Article and illustrations courtesy of Jeff Burk & Greg Ozubko
NAMED CANADIAN PRO DRIVER OF THE YEAR;
Al Billes, new driver for Jim Oddy's Summit
Racing Equipment-backed Pro Mod team, has yet to let out the clutch in competition, but he has already
recorded his first victory of 2005. The Barrie, Ontario driver was named the 2004
Canadian Pro Driver of the Year by the readers of DragRace Canada
magazine,receiving 47 percent of the online vote.
Courtesy of Jeff Burk
Billes/Oddy Summit Team Taking
The IHRA and NHRA Pro Modified class may never have seen such a melding. Ever since Al Billes, the Barrie, ON-based racer, was named by Jim Oddy as the replacement driver to Fred Hahn for the Summit Racing Equipment Pro Modified team, class competitors have been worried -- and well they should be.
Billes and Oddy have both been involved in the class since the dawn of it's creation and individually over the years have amassed countless event wins and championship titles. Together for the 2005 racing season, Billes will drive two Pro Mod cars, both sponsored by Summit Racing Equipment. One will be a spectacular new 2005 Hemi-powered Dodge Stratus which owner Jim Oddy has pegged for IHRA Hooters Drag Racing Series competition while the second will be Billes’s tried and true ’53 Corvette, (also Hemi-powered) which will focus on the NHRA AMS Staff Leasing and new Canadian-based PMRA circuits.
For Billes, the opportunity to race for a major sponsor like Summit marks the pinnacle of a very long journey which saw him achieve astounding results in his career despite being a 100% independent racer. “I’ve always wanted to win a championship but I was at a point in my life where I had to make some hard decisions because of the expense involved in racing," he said. "When Jim offered me the opportunity to come and race for his team I was thrilled because it will allow me to keep my dream alive. Then to have the opportunity to drive one of the most powerful and prominent Pro Mod cars in the world and to be associated with a high profile company like Summit Racing Equipment – I feel very fortunate.”
Billes was also particularly inspired by the potential for performance this season, particularly within the new NHRA AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod rules.
“Our first focus has and will be to win races,” he added. “The 29% blower overdrive and the 100 lbs weight break does make for the possibility of the first "legal" five second run in the class. I think that barrier would be a nice feather in the cap for whoever gets it. The class will definitely be quicker and Jim and I have spent a lot of time working on our power program over the winter – so things could get interesting.”
Al Billes and Jim Oddy will begin their venture together when the IHRA opens it's season at San Antonio, Texas March 31st-April 2nd. The team's NHRA AMS class debut will likely come also in Texas -- at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals (April 8-10th).
Photos by: Bruce Biegler
Article courtesy of www.dragracecanada.com
TEAM SUMMIT TAKES THEIR FIRST WIN OF 2005
First Win For The New Team
Two weeks after a taking the top spot in the qualifying order for the AMS Pro Mod Challenge during the NHRA national event at Houston Raceway Park, Billes took his Summit Racing 1953 Chevy Corvette to the Pro Mod win at the 35th annual IHRA Spring Nationals at Rockingham Dragway in Rockingham, North Carolina.
Billes took the win when he saved his best run of the weekend for the final round of eliminations and beat Quain Stott with a 6.162-second pass at 230.80 miles per hour while Stott covered the quarter mile in 6.206 seconds at 229.31 miles per hour.
For Billes and Oddy, the win came after a stressful weekend that saw the team get only one qualifying pass and make it through eliminations with some of the slowest ETs in the field, until they got to the final round.
“It came together when we needed it to,” Billes said, after the race, adding that the car did not perform up to its potential until the final round. “We turned all the screws and made all the adjustments and it worked out,” he said. “We must have done the right things.”
After a disappointing appearance in the IHRA season opener at San Antonio, Billes and Oddy put in a lot of time testing the Corvette, both at San Antonio after the IHRA event and in Mooresville, North Carolina two days before the start of the event at Rockingham.
“That definitely helped,” Billes said of the testing. “You can never do enough testing. Being from up north, you can only do dyno work during the winter, so you end up doing a lot engine work and not a lot of racing the car.”
The team came to Rockingham expecting to get three qualifying attempts. When rain forced the cancellation of Friday night qualifying, three attempts suddenly turned to two qualifying passes on Saturday. But two attempts soon turned to one when Billes began feeling ill on Saturday and elected to skip the afternoon qualifying session. That decision meant that he’d have just one opportunity to make the field.
With just one chance to make the field, Oddy and Billes were faced with the task of choosing a setup that would be sure to let Billes get down the track, yet still be aggressive enough to put the team solidly into the field of 16.
“We were soft, very soft,” Billes said. “We wanted to run a 30 (6.30 seconds) because we thought that would keep us in. We ended up running a 31.”
Oddy said that with just one chance to make the field, just getting into the top 16 was the most important goal.
“We set it up soft to make the program,” Oddy said. “We knew we could work on the car today (Sunday) if we got it in the program.”
Billes was in the first pair of cars to go down the track in the final qualifying session and put the car into the seventh spot in the order. But with 29 cars left to run, and 13 of them not in the field, the Summit racing team had to wait nervously to see if Billes’ 6.312-second ET would be quick enough to make the show.
“We were nervous about whether or not it would stand up,” Billes explained. “There was a lot of pacing going on.” In the end, Billes’ ET proved to be quick enough to put the team into the 11th spot in the qualifying order.
That earned Billes a first round matchup against Ed Hoover, who won the season opener in San Antonio. In that race, Hoover shook the tires hard when he launched and had to back off the throttle of his car. Billes had a clean run down the middle of his lane but the 6.272-second elapsed time was the second slowest of all the winners in that round of eliminations.
In the second round, Billes faced off against Charles Carpenter. In that round, Billes had the quicker start, with 0.087-second reaction time to Carpenter’s 0.113-second start, and stayed out in front the whole way down the track. Billes’ winning ET for the race as 6.231 seconds at 230.25 miles per hour, while Carpenter made it down the quarter mile in 6.366 seconds at 219.19 miles per hour.
Billes got his third-round win over Dennis Radford because he was better able to control a car that was shaking its rear tires. Radford got off the starting line with a 0.039-second reaction time while Billes took 0.097 seconds to start. But cars shook the tires when the launched, but Billes was able to pedal his Corvette and get back into the run, pulling out a 6.576-second ET at 224.25 miles per hour. In the left lane, Radford tried to pedal his car but was never able to get the rear tires hooked up again, so he backed off the throttle.
While Billes was progressing through the rounds, Stott was on the other side of the ladder. Stott beat Keith Baker, Jim Halsey and Rickie Smith to earn his spot in the final round. When the final round began, Stott got off the starting line first and held the lead to the 660-foot marker. But then Billes powered his Corvette by Stott and pulled away to take the win. Stott finished the race in 6.206 seconds at 229.31 miles per hour. In contrast, Billes had his quickest pass of the weekend as he made it down the quarter mile in 6.162 seconds at 230.80 miles per hour.
“We pulled that one out from under a rock,” Oddy said of the final round pass. “We were struggling all day. We turned all the knobs we could turn.”
Billes said that the final round win over Stott was the toughest win of the day. “Quain is so consistent,” Billes said. “We kind of stole this one from him. He’s been running so well and so consistently. We kind of stepped it up for the final round and snuck up on him.”
The win at Rockingham was the first of the season for Billes and the first win ever for the new team of Billes and Jim Oddy. Billes joined the team after the end of the 2004 season to replace Oddy’s long-time driver, Fred Hahn, who retired during the season last year.
The next race on Billes’ schedule is the 5th Annual ACDelco
Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Virginia. That race
is scheduled for May 26th through 28th.
Courtesy of www.dragracecentral.com
ODDY AND BILLES MAKE FASTEST PRO MOD PASS IN HISTORY; SUMMIT TEAM CLIMBS INTO 2ND PLACE IN IHRA HOOTERS POINTS!
The Summit Racing Equipment-backed Pro Mod team of
owner/tuner/engine builder Jim Oddy and driver Al Billes have been the
dramatic act of IHRA Pro Mod racing so far this year. In the three 2005
IHRA National Event races held so far they have raced and qualified two
entirely different race cars, a Tim McAmis-built '53 'Vette and a Jerry
Bickel-built '05 Dodge Stratus. They have qualified on the last lap at
every event, and then usually qualified at or near the top and set the
track or national speed record in the process.
Photos courtesy of Jamie Walters
At The Top Of The Points Race
Billes’ semi-final appearance, coupled with Shannon Jenkins’ second-round loss to Burton Auxier, put Billes at the top of the Pro Mod season championship points standings. At the end of the race, Billes was first in the points race with 309 points and Jenkins was close behind with 305 points. Ed Hoover is in third place with 250 points.
“We made big strides with the car this weekend,” Billes said of his new Summit Racing Dodge Stratus Pro Mod race car. The race at Grand Bend was only the second time that Billes and team owner Jim Oddy had raced the new car in IHRA competition. The first time out, at the IHRA national event at Virginia Motorsports Park on Memorial Day weekend, Billes took the Stratus to the final round of eliminations.
Billes made the field in Grand bend by qualifying in the number two position in the order, with a quickest qualifying ET of 6.240 seconds at 231.28 miles per hour. Jenkins was the top qualifier with an ET of 6.191 seconds at 227.11 MPH.
But like he has done in three of the four IHRA races this year, Billes came into the final qualifying session outside the field and had to make good in his final attempt if he wanted to make the field. And like he had done previously, Billes got the run he needed and secured his place in field.
“We’re doing it to see how fast we can age Jim (Oddy),” Billes joked, adding that the team would prefer not to wait until its last qualifying pass to make the field but that it has been taking them a couple of runs each weekend to get the setup right for the track they are at.
“I guess that’s got a lot to do with getting a new car ready,” Billes said. “It takes a lot of runs to get the setup and we don’t make anywhere near as many runs as we’d like.”
After shaking the tires during his first two qualifying passes, Billes got the run he needed in the third session late Saturday afternoon when he took his Dodge Stratus straight down the middle of his lane and into the top of the order. That earned Billes a first-round race against Eddie Ware.
In the first round, Billes had the quicker start, with an 0.073-second reaction time to Ware’s 0.096-second start. Ware stayed close for the first 660 feet of the race, but then Billes’ Stratus started pulling away for the win. Billes ended the race in 6.246 seconds at 231.68 miles per hour. Ware’s ET was 6.326 seconds at 218.19 MPH.
Like he did in round two, Billes took his car straight down the groove in round two, beating Jim Halsey with a 6.227-second ET at 233.08 MPH to Halsey’s 6.269-second pass at 225.41 miles per hour.
That set up a third-round race against Billy Harper to see who would get to the final round of eliminations. Billes left the starting line first but had not traveled far when his car shook the rear tires and started to go sideways, forcing him to get off the throttle. Harper took his car straight down his lane for the win.
“We took some big strides with the car but we shook the tires in the semi-final,” Billes said of his race weekend. The race at Grand Bend was only the second time the team has raced the new Stratus in national event competition.
It’s different,” Billes said of the new car when asked to compare it to his 1953 Corvette that he drove during in the beginning of the 2005 season. “The setup is just different. It responds well to changes in the setup,” he said, explaining that the team cannot use much of the data it has collected during past racing seasons.
At the same time, he said, the team has been conservative in the changes it makes because it wants to be sure to qualify for every race. “It’s hard to look at the setup and say ‘We have to go way over her’ because if we do and we miss it, we won’t make the field,” Billes said. “Instead, we’ll say ‘Let’s just go part way.’ We just do what we need to do to get through the round.”
By taking small steps, the team is working to build consistency rather than constantly going after the quickest ET. “We don’t want to try to be number one and then end up not being in the race at all,” he said.
That’s because consistency will be a key to winning the IHRA Pro Mod championship this year, particularly with Jenkins just four points behind in the season standings. “Shannon is going to be tough. He’s really running well,” Billes said. “His car is running in the 61s (the 6.1-second range), just like a bracket car.”
The next race on Billes schedule is the NHRA
national event at Old Bridge Township raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ.
That race is scheduled for June 16th through 19th.
Courtesy of Summitracing.com
AND BILLES LEAD IHRA CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS!
The Summit Racing
Equipment-backed Pro Mod team of owner/tuner/engine builder Jim Oddy and
Canadian driver Al Billes used the IHRA National Event at Grand Bend --
the first of three IHRA National Events held in Canada -- to move into
the lead in the chase for the IHRA Hooter's Cup World championship for
Courtesy of Jeff Burk
PROMOD RECORD DOMINATOR
Canadian Pro Mod class star Al Billes continued his record setting ways during last weekend's NHRA K&N Filters SuperNationals in New Jersey. While Billes ultimately did not win the event's featured AMS Staff Leasing/TLR Pro Mod Challenge event -- he still managed to humble the competition with a stunning performance driving his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Corvette.
During his third and final qualifying round, Billes skipped his Hemi-powered machine to an amazing 6.030 secs at 236.92 mph, the quickest and fastest run ever seen in "legal" Pro Mod class history. Billes backed up that mark with an equally impressive 6.081 secs at 236.63 mph effort in round one and with that grabbed both ends of the recognized NHRA Pro Mod record. Billes already holds both the ET and speed mark on the IHRA tour (6.101 secs at 236.22 mph) giving him a rare and possibly first time distinction in drag racing. He is holding no less the four national marks in a Professional category.
"That 6.03 is a big plus for our team because it's a fair bit quicker then anyone else has run," said Billes. "It really was a summation of about 2 or 3 years work with our own engine program back in Barrie, Ontario. All of that hard work has led us to this point and it's beginning to pay dividends."
While Billes acknowledged the run was quick -- always the perfectionist -- he wondered about what was left on the table.
"It really wasn't a perfect run in fact it rattled the tires and wiggled around in low gear," he revealed. "The fact it went that quick after all that tells me there is potential for even more. If the conditions are right -- this car is capable of running 3-5/100ths quicker."
"I saw this type of performance on paper but you always have some doubt until it actually happens," Al added. "I think we can get a "five" out of it but that will be a function of the conditions -- where and when. We would certainly like to accomplish that for our great sponsor -- Summit Racing Equipment."
Article and photos courtesy of www.dragracecanada.com
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