Photo credit to Joe Edwards III, Door Slammers Plus
Some people were surprised when defending NHRA Pro Mod Champion Rickie Smith recently unveiled a new ’69 Camaro from Jerry Bickel. Going into the NHRA U.S. Nationals in under two weeks, Smith is the Pro Mod points leader, but has several other drivers close behind him.
“From day one, the plan was to get a new car this year; I just had to wait in line to get the car I wanted from Jerry,” said Smith. “I’ve had all different types of Corvettes and Camaros, but I really wanted a ’69.”
Smith has taken the car for a couple laps so he could get used to the older body style and the speed. The ’69 Camaro is also 45 pounds lighter, which plays a big part in how it handles. He hopes to race the new car in Indianapolis, but testing will help make that decision.
“It may not be the car I drive in Indy. I’m not worried about whether the car works or not; Jerry builds great cars. It’s the speed my team is concentrating on. If I’m not happy with the numbers, we’ll go back to the old car,” said Smith. “I did some more testing this week at Virginia Motorsports Park and I still haven’t made my decision yet.”
Going into the U.S. Nationals, Smith is only 11 points ahead of second place Mike Janis. He wants to keep that lead and extend it so he can clinch a second consecutive NHRA Pro Mod Championship.
“There are four races left to get that championship, but really only three for the Nitrous cars. These nitrous cars do not like the dry, hot conditions of Vegas. We need to get this done,” added Smith.