Column By: BRETT HORLACHER / RPW – PORTER CORNERS, NY – There are many teams among the Pro Stock ranks that feel that a change to Late Model-style body rules and guidelines is sorely overdue.
One of them, Kim Duell a regular competitor at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, after talks with multiple teams and reaching out to DIRTcar to float the idea, decided to take things in his own hands and build his idea of the Pro Stock version 2.0.
To summarize the changes to the body, it does away with the now required external door, rear quarter sections and rear bumper cover of the current design. It is exchanged in favor of a flat single piece of sheet metal that attaches to the front fenders and is open in the back.
The front bumper, hood and rear deck are maintained with the roof being smaller and a larger seven-inch spoiler replacing the five-inch maximum spoiler on the rear of the current design.
When asked about the genius of the design, Kim explained that after a few conversations with fellow drivers about the scarcity and cost of the current body design pieces he observed other full-fendered race cars that were similar in performance to the Northeast Pro Stocks, including Southern Street Stocks.
Seeing that those car designs have progressed at a faster rate than the Pro Stocks, he began to research what upgrading to flat doors and rear quarters with a smaller roof and open rear would cost.
He also searched out the potential advantages of that design.
His idea was fueled by the need to keep costs down and making repairs easier.
“Racing on dirt has gotten nothing but faster in the past twenty years,” Duell said. “We have consistent contact. The bodies get torn up and either can’t be fixed or look terrible when they are repaired. We owe it to our sponsors and supporters to give them the best product, and to put the best-looking cars on the track for the fans.”
Additionally, Kim wanted to stress that the cost of body repair of the current design, a full skin kit (which is only the outer doors, quarters and fenders) is $1,000.
“During the season, we had heavy damage to the right side of the body,” he said. “The replacement of just the door, rear quarter and vinyl was $500 and that was damaged again two weeks later.”
Testing of the new design occurred on a dry-slick track at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway during mid-day a few weeks back. The observed lap times (low 18-seconds) mirrored night-time lap times on a tackier surface.
The flat surface and larger spoiler provided what Duell guessed was a significant gain in aerodynamic performance. The open rear allowed all of the air under the car to escape out the back, increasing the overall downforce.
The new design received what Duell would describe as 90% positive feedback from drivers and fans, and nearly all those who commented think that advancing the design of the cars while lowering the overall cost would be a move in the right direction.
However, not all feedback was positive.
Duell stressed that he appreciated the negative feedback as well. He understands that some folks love the current look but he’s only looking to further the class. This would give fans something different than Street Stocks and asphalt Late Models with the overall goal to give the Pro Stocks a look and identity all their own.
The DIRTcar Pro Stock rules meeting is in November, and due to hunting season, Duell will not be in attendance. However, his Crew Chief and wife / co-owner will be there and will be able to speak to the assembled group about the proposed design changes.
RPW will make sure to report on any adopted design changes. Stay tuned.