NORWALK, OHIO – Robert Patrick makes his return to the NHRA J&A Pro Modified Series this weekend after a one-year absence. In returning, Patrick will compete at a facility where he built the foundation for one of the more storied careers in mountain motor Pro Stock racing.
Patrick, a three-time winner at Summit Motorsports Park and driver of the Purvis Ford-sponsored nitrous Shelby Cobra Mustang, has won three times at the storied facility located outside of Cleveland, Ohio.
The Fredericksburg, Va.-based driver was no flash in the pan as he developed into one of the fiercest drivers in IHRA Pro Stock drivers, earning No. 12 all-time driver as selected by CompetitionPlus.com.
And for Patrick, his sixteen career IHRA victories started at Norwalk when in 1993 as a rookie won the event that was once the crown jewel of the race series. He followed up with a win in another impressive victory in 1995 with a perfect reaction time in the final round. A year later he won the race from the pole position.
“Summit Motorsports Park is a facility that has always brought the best in me as a driver,” said Patrick, who races his Pro Modified Shelby Mustang in four different series simultaneously [NHRA, IHRA and PDRA, NEOPMA]. “Back in the early days of my career, it was the race you always wanted to win. And to have my name alongside the guys I idolized, Bob Glidden and Rickie Smith, as three-time winners just leaves me in awe of the magnitude of it all. It wasn’t an easy place to win back then, and nothing has changed over the years.”
However, all hasn’t been a bed of roses at Norwalk for Patrick, who suffered his first career drag racing crash at the storied facility. While on a run at the now defunct American Drag Racing League event in 2012, Patrick’s car made an abrupt and unexpected right turn into the retaining wall. Instinctively Patrick pushed in the clutch, and the impact coupled with the position of his leg left him with a severe knee injury.
“I had almost blocked the memory out of my mind until it was brought up,” Patrick said with a laugh. “But that was a bad day. I’d venture to say it was probably the only bad memory I have of this place.”
Patrick is doubly excited about his return to Norwalk as well as getting an invitation in the hard-to-come NHRA J&A Pro Modified Series.
“It’s great to be a part of this program,” Patrick said. “This is definitely a top-shelf place to race if you have a Pro Modified. You line up against the best of the best here so if you win it’s definitely a feather in your cap.”