Written by Bobby Bennett.

One of the birthplaces of Pro Modified will finally get its shot to host an event for a race series based on the volatile doorslammer division.

01_scotty_cannon_04Pro Mod legend Scotty Cannon won his first event as Pro Mod driver at Bristol in 1991. (Bobby Bennett photo)Bristol Dragway, on April 20 – 21, will host the ADRL Spring Drags III, the second event on the ten-race tour for the eighth-mile series.
Jerry Caldwell, Executive Vice-President and General Manager of Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway, said Spring Drags III is the perfect complement for the Thunder Valley season.

“There is no doubt that we have created a schedule of events at Bristol Dragway that would make any drag strip in this country envious,”  said Caldwell. “By adding the ADRL to our calendar, we have only strengthened our position as the ultimate destination for drag racing fans. We expect our debut ADRL event to be a great show with unpredictable racing action.”

Formerly known as Thunder Valley Dragway, the Bristol, Tenn.-based facility hosted the famous four-car NOS Top Sportsman challenge during the 1987 IHRA Fallnationals on a Saturday evening which inevitably led an eight-car shootout in 1988, and eventually the birth of the Pro Modified division.

Bret Kepner, current announcer for the ADRL, announced the historic four-car shootout, in 1987.

“It was a really big deal for us because this kind of racing had been everywhere but on the national event scene,” said Kepner. “This was this style of racing on the big stage. We knew something big was building and this was the first step in that direction.”

The ADRL Pro Extreme cars racing next weekend will hit the speed traps at a little over 210 miles per hour. At the time of the four-car exhibition, the fuel Funny Car track record was only 212 miles per hour.

“This event will bring back memories of that night in 1987,” admitted Kepner. “This event signals this style of racing and Bristol has come full circle since then. The track is completely different, it runs under NHRA sanction and this event is very much like a memorial to the original Bristol.”

Pro Modified isn’t only class steeped in Bristol roots. The ADRL’s Extreme Pro Stock division features a style of racing also developed and nurtured in Bristol. Mountain Motor Pro Stock, essentially a style of naturally-aspirated full-bodied drag racing, was the brainchild of Ted Jones, whose concept was developed on the grounds of Bristol Dragway when he was the executive Vice President of the IHRA.
John Montecalvo, who races an 800-plus cubic inch powered 2012 Chevrolet Camaro, raced in the formative years of his career at Bristol. Next week’s event is a homecoming of sorts.

“We’re really excited to go to Bristol,” he said. “The history of Mountain Motor Pro Stock and Pro Modified racing runs deep there. It’s a big Pro Mod and Pro Stock area and this race will be great for both classes there. That’s where it all began. The tradition at that track and in that area is incredible.  

“It’s a real racing town. There’s a terrific fan base in that area.”

Fellow Extreme Pro Stock driver Cary Goforth said the Bristol race had been on his wish list for quite some time.

“It’s going to be incredible,” Goforth acknowledged. “I’m really excited about Bristol. I had been hoping they would get Bristol on the schedule. I’m thrilled to death with that. If the ADRL is going to grow, which I believe we are, we’ve got to get to those bigger places and bigger venues.”

Racing will take place in several categories including the popular Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5, Pro Nitrous and the ultimate class, Pro Extreme, the quickest and fastest full-bodied, doorslammer class in the world.

Other categories at the inaugural Bristol ADRL event include Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman, Aeromotive Fuel Systems Pro Modified, Extreme Pro Stock and Pro Extreme Motorcycle. The event also will feature the radical new SuperCar Showdown. That class will showcase the latest factory-produced, dealership-available automobiles racing with no handicap starts or performance restrictions.

Gates open at 10 a.m. both Friday and Saturday, with first round qualifying slated for Friday at noon. Two more qualifying rounds will follow that afternoon with jet car exhibitions set for 9:30 p.m. The final qualifying round is set to begin at noon Saturday. First round eliminations start at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Special jet car exhibition runs are scheduled for 9 p.m. Final round action will begin at 9:30 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults each day, while children 12 and under are free. A full event adult pass is available for $25. Tickets may be purchased in advance for just $10 at all area O’Reilly Auto Parts stores. All tickets include an ADRL VIP pit pass. General parking is available for $10.

For more information about the ADRL Spring Drags III, please visit or call (423) BRISTOL. For more information about the ADRL, please visit

halseyADRL Pro Nitrous Jim Halsey made his early career runs in Bristol. (Bobby Bennett Photo)

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