MODIFIED PRODUCTION ALIVE AND WELL IN THIS CAROLINA-BASED SERIES
Robbie Draughon has a thing for drag cars with history – and he can’t get enough of them.
To that end, a 2019 NHRA national-event winner in Super Stock and his wife, Tabitha, are cranking up a new series this weekend at Rockingham (NC) Dragway. That’s when the Carolina Classic Modified Production circuit makes its debut as part of a big weekend at the track. In addition to the CCMP portion of the show Saturday, a pair of $10,000-to-win races are on tap in the 25th annual Big John Memorial Bracket Weekend, and the Carolina Class Racers Association competitors will take part in their own program Saturday and Sunday.
“We talked about it over the winter a bunch,” Robbie said, “and it kind of happened right there at the beginning of the season. That’s why we’re starting late, so people could get their cars together to do it.
“There’s a bunch of those type of cars still left that run the Classic Gear Jammerz series and stuff like that, but there’s no heads-up racing for those kinds of cars anymore. There hasn’t been any naturally aspirated heads-up racing around here in 40 years. They’ve got that gasser stuff, but those cars don’t appeal to me because it was before my time; I didn’t grow up around those. But Modified Corvettes and Camaros – stick cars with heavy flywheels and 10-11,000 RPM – that was racing.”
The Draughons own Robbie Draughon Powertrain Development in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Draughon’s father, Robert, raced, and he won an IHRA national event at Bristol in 1979. Forty years later, Robbie was victorious in his first NHRA final round, winning Super Stock in the fall race at Charlotte by eight inches.
With CCMP, Robbie is looking to relive his past, remembering weekly duels between North Carolina Modified veterans such as the late David Surles (“Checkmate”), Bobby Smith (“Widowmaker”) and others as the front ends of their entries danced down the track during every gear change..
“You grow up around guys like that – that was all there was when I was a kid,” he said. “They were the baddest thing in the world as far as I was concerned. It was just unreal, all the stuff they did, and it’d be cool to bring that back.
“(Tabitha) is doing CCRA stuff already (managing it and CCMP with Leigh Anne Flynt), so that offered us a perfect platform to do it. They already had race dates in,” he said of CCRA’s six-weekend race plan, “so we’ll just be teaming up with them.”
While CCRA events are held Saturdays and Sundays, the Modified show will take place solely on Saturdays. Veteran NHRA tech official Dave Ley will serve as the new series’ tech director at Rockingham, “and that’s a huge asset,” Tabitha said.
The new circuit will race in eighth-mile format using NHRA’s indexes for that distance. For instance, the index for cars running A Modified – such as Draughon’s Vette – will run off a 5.90 index. But with CCMP, there’s no breakout rule in place, and Robbie Draughon hopes his car can run 5-teens in good weather.
“There’s a lot of race cars out there in barns and stuff – cars you haven’t seen in 25 or 30 years – they might come out for some performance-based racing instead of putting shoe polish on the window,” Robbie said. “NHRA still runs Modified as part of Super Stock, but it’s on a dial-in unless you’re in the same class. Our cars have to meet the current rules for that, but the bodies have to be 1980 and older, and it has to be a manual transmission.
“You’ll dial the index for the class, but with no breakout. There’ll be a spot, but no breakout at the finish line. If you can make your stuff faster, you’re going to be the man.
The entry fee for CCMP racers is $200, and there’s a 100% payback.
“With the CCRA and Carolina Modified deal, the purse covers itself,” Tabitha said. “We just need a track to run on. We bring in tech people and people to run the staging lanes, we just need a track and their timing system.”
Among those expected to join Draughon in the first CCMP field are: Charles “Strawberry” Dixon of Gastonia, N.C.; Gary McKee of Rock Hill, S.C.; Tim Jones of Rural Hall, N.C.; Steve Johnson of Spartanburg, S.C.; and Darrell Lail of Maiden, N.C.
“There are a few other cars that won’t be there this weekend because of other obligations, like Wayne Allison’s car with Monty Joe Bogan. Dane Pearson, he’s got an old Modified Corvette. And, Tabitha added, “There are some guys in Ohio that want to come, they’re just working on their cars to make it feasible to come.”
Robbie Draughon said he doesn’t “have to make changes” to his NHRA ‘Vette, “but I’ve built two new motors just to try to do this and be competitive – because I know how fast some of these guys are going to get. … They’re like Comp Eliminator-style motors.It’s just going to be weight and cubic inches, and if you can build something badder, have at it.”
The new series’ other races in 2023 are slated for GALOT Motorsports Park in Benson, N.C., on Sept. 9; Darlington (SC) Dragway on Oct. 14, and Coastal Plains Raceway Park in Jacksonville, N.C., on Nov. 18.