Since the birth of Pro Stock eliminator, the rules haven’t really changed too much. Sure, there have been tweaks and updates, most of which deal with safety and parity, but only last season did any significant overhauls to the class regulations take place when the NHRA mandated the cars switch to EFI and eliminated forward facing hood scoops. For the 2018 season, which has been looming large and feeling very much like a make-or-break year due to weak car counts and waning spectator interest, the NHRA dropped a bombshell on the class that just may be the kick in the pants the class needs.
No longer do the body and powerplant have to “match”. Since the classes inception, if you wanted to run a Ford body, you had to run a Ford engine, for example, meaning with the Chevy teams leading the way in the horsepower wars, we have a field full of Camaros and a couple of competitive Dodge Darts. Watching the class for the whole 2017 season, I personally do not remember seeing a single Mustang on the track representing the Blue Oval contingent. No matter how many Chevy fans there are out there, a class dominated by a single body style gets stale, so the NHRA has eliminated this rule, opening up the option to run any approved body style from 2009 and later starting in 2018. While it’s likely too late to see a huge influx of new body styles, there should definitely be some non-Camaro bodied cars trickling into the ranks throughout the season.
So far, reception from drivers and team owners has been overwhelmingly positive, as they all believe the change will bring fresh blood to the class and keep the fans interested in the class. With the relaxed guidelines, teams can build their own powerplants, or to have a better shot at being competitive, they can lease engines from the main players in the class – Elite Motorsports, KB Racing and Gray Motorsports, all of whom build Chevy engines, then drop the powerplant between the framerails of any NHRA-approved Pro Stock-legal body, such as the Dodge Dart, Ford Mustang, and Pontiac GXP. Being a life-long fan of the class, I’m personally hopeful this change pumps some life back into the eliminator, which is responsible for some of the closest racing on Sunday. There has always been a huge Chevy vs Ford rivalry, and in the 90’s the Mopar camps really took a lot of the spotlight with several dominant seasons during which they built a loyal fan base that remains strong to this day. This change could easily revive those rivalries and give the spectators an opportunity to pick sides, something that always helps keep them interested in a particular class.
What do you think about this change? Do you believe it will awaken the class a bit, or is Pro Stock on the way out? Let us know what you think in the comments!