Meet the 2014 IHRA Sportsman Champions, Part 1 – Super Rod, Hot Rod, Top Eliminator, Modified, and Jr. Dragster
MARK PRESSEY – MODIFIED
It is amazing how one seemingly insignificant decision can have such a profound impact on a person's life. Or, in the case of IHRA Mod ET World Champion Mark Pressey, an entire racing season.
For Pressey, the 2014 racing season simply wasn't supposed to happen. Pressey finished last season with a broken car and, following a trying winter, the veteran racer out of Newport, Michigan had no intention of getting his car ready for the season. But one man changed all of that, encouraging Pressey to fix the car and get it ready for racing.
Just a few months later, that motivation led to Pressey earning the IHRA Mod ET World Championship at the Summit Racing Equipment World Finals at Memphis International Raceway.
"We ended last year with the car smoking and not running well at all. To be honest with you, I didn't mess with it at the end of the year. I just buttoned it up and put it in the barn," Pressey said. "But my buddy Rich West wouldn't let me sit around. He said to me, 'no way are you sitting it out, we are getting it fixed' and from there it has just been an awesome year.”
That year included four finals, two wins and a track championship at his home track of Ubly Dragway before qualifying for the Summit SuperSeries with a runoff victory at the Division 5 Summit Team Finals. From there, Pressey put together a solid afternoon in Memphis that included one great package and two double-breakout victories to advance to the final against Division 7 Summit Team Finals runoff winner Benny Gossett out of Caprock Motorplex.
In the final Pressey got the jump at the line, posting a .022 reaction time to Gossett's .038, followed by a 10.159-second pass on a 10.14 dial at 129.74 mph to just edge Gossett, who had a 9.175 on a 9.17 at 140.33 mph. With that pass, Pressey secured the Mod championship and left him with only two words for his friend who wouldn't let him sit it out - thank you.
"What an amazing year. I really want to thank my good friend Rich who helped get me here, along with my son Jimmy who was crew chief for the weekend, Nick Janowiak and his girlfriend Amanda who came out to support me from Ubly Dragway, my entire Quick Temper team and everyone that cheered us on from home," Pressey said. "This is really a bit overwhelming, but we had a great weekend and the car ran great. What can I say, it is a Mopar."
On his way to the final, Pressey recorded wins over Gordie Stevens, Sambo Tyra and Bobby Arnett, producing double-breakout victories over Stevens and Arnett and a breakout victory over Tyra. Gossett had wins over Ernie Humes, Greg Sauvage and Kris Bunch on his way to the final.
Despite the stellar finish to the race, Pressey actually began the weekend with more issues with his car. During the only test and tune session of the weekend, Pressey's car began backfiring and failing to reach full power. Nervous, Pressey returned to the pits and gave the car a quick overhaul hoping to fix the issue.
"When we unloaded on Thursday, the car didn't want to run. During our first three passes the car was missing, popping and didn't want to reach a certain RPM. So we took the car back to the pits, pumped the fuel out, flushed the carb, put in new plugs and went back to work. Our next pass we went a dead-on 10.19," Pressey said. "We are thankful we had good weather on Thursday for the test and tune. After that the car was flawless."
With the win, Pressey not only gets the title of world champion, but he claims an awesome prize package that includes $10,000 from Summit Racing Equipment, a brand new 26' trailer from Performax Trailers, a $2,500 gift certificate from Trick Flow, a Gemini two-post Auto Lift, nearly $10,000 in prizes from Chicago Wheels, Hughes Transmission and Converter, Armor Coat Ceramic Header Coating, Rock Racing Battery, Jones Transmission and K&N, a vacation to Aruba and more.
"We saw a lot of weather, a lot of ups and downs and spent a lot of time just sitting and waiting, but we did it," Pressey said. "Thanks again to all of my friends. I went through some stuff over the past year, but I have some great friends that supported me. What an exciting year and what an amazing program IHRA puts on. It was a great experience for all of us."