When Carl Stevens Jr. won the 2018 Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod at Bandimere Speedway, he didn’t just collect the $100,000 winner-take-all prize. He also earned a lifetime invitation to all future Drag Illustrated events, including the recently announced 2023 World Series of Pro Mod, March 3-5, at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
“I can’t even put into words what it means to get the chance to do it again,” said Stevens, who was also a participant in the 2019 WSOPM. “That was the worst race I’d ever been to. The excitement and buzz that was building heading into that race, when that race went away, the buzz went away. There was no real excitement or hype like you’ve got going again. It’s pretty awesome to get a chance to be a part of that again. If I wasn’t invited, I’d be there as a spectator just because of the buzz and everything that’s around it.”
Unlike the first three WSOPMs, which were quarter-mile events based on “legal” rules, the 2023 edition will be an eighth-mile race with outlaw-style rules that allow entries from across drag racing’s numerous Pro Modified classes.
“Not to take away anything from the NHRA quarter-mile side, but it’s just going to be that much harder this year,” Stevens said of the new format. “The competition on the eighth-mile stuff, there’s so many guys that are so fast. Everybody can hit the tree and drive. It’s going to be wild how perfect you’re going to have to be every time you go up there to make a run. You’ll need to be on the tree and try to run as quickly as you possibly can every single run. There’s definitely no ducks on the list that’s already out. I’d imagine the rest of the guys that are coming won’t be either.”
Since winning the 2018 WSOPM, Stevens has raced here and there, but he’s dedicated a lot of his time to building his engine business, Xtreme Racing Engines, and tuning for customers. He did, however, recently drive his ’69 Camaro to a string of passes well into the 3.50s in late-season testing.
That car will be at the 2023 WSOPM, but Stevens won’t be behind the wheel. He recently sold the car to another invitee, two-time PDRA Pro Nitrous champion Jason Harris, who will continue to run the car with a ProCharger-boosted XRE engine between the framerails.
That same engine combination will also power Stevens’ new ride, a Bickel-built ’17 Corvette previously driven by Rick Hord. Stevens and his team, including his father, Carl Stevens Sr., have redone the car and plan on breaking it in soon to prepare for the $100,000-to-win event.
“I’m going to be wearing out parts on my hub dyno – pretty much daily – trying to find all the horsepower we can come into this race,” Stevens said. “We’ll head South probably sometime at the end of January or early February so we can do some on-track testing. Until then, we’ll be wearing out parts here on the dyno so we can make sure we’re coming in hot.”
Find an updated WSOPM invitee list and more event info at www.WorldSeriesofProMod.com.