Decker Jr Takes NEOPMA Finale at MIR
Drag Racing Online & courtesy Drag Illustrated
Images: Geoff Sculley and Bob Reed and courtesy J&R Promotions
The Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association closed off the 2023 season in what was one of the quickest events of the series with 2022 champ Mike Decker Jr. driving his screw-blown Decker’s Salvage “Big Change” ’18 Camaro to the winner’s circle.
The event, celebrating the 31st anniversary of the series, had $31,000 going to the winner so there was a lot on the line for the racers.
Turbos, roots, and screw blowers, along with nitrous and ProChargers were running against each other for the big money.
It was a classic NEOPMA final with Decker, near lane, taking out Ulsch for the title
The finals pitted Decker against Chuck Ulsch’s blown ’68 Camaro. This wasn’t the first time the two were in opposite lanes as both racers have been two of the biggest winners in the series and raced against each other dozens of times.
Ulsch was up to the task laying down a 3.656 to Decker’s 3.672 but the race was won on the starting line as Decker’s 0.020 reaction time made the difference as Ulsch was second off the line with a 0.046 and it cost him the race.
“I’m going to thank God for giving me the ability to get that win, and I’m going to give Him the glory for my team to have the ability to recover to get that win,” Decker Jr. said. “Without that, that wouldn’t happen. To win that 31st anniversary race, it’s not just another monthly race. It just shows the caliber of guys that I surround myself with on my crew. With the support I get from guys like the Tutterows and the relationships we’ve built, we’ve become a strong team and a contender that can win. I don’t believe we had the best car. We didn’t have the fastest car, obviously. But at the end of the day, we were gifted the win.”
Just qualifying was tough with nearly 20 cars on the MIR grounds trying to get into the quick 16 car field. The event, instead of separating the competitors into two classes as the NEOPMA did in the first two events of the season, had all the cars running heads up in one class.
Texas racer Todd Moyer set the world on its ear with a booming 3.588 @ 227.08 MPH to put Carl Stevens Jr twin turbo Camaro in the #1 spot.
That pass also set both ends of the NEOPMA eighth-mile record, as well as the track speed record for eighth-mile Pro Mod. Just to put the run in proper context, the closest speed in qualifying to Moyer’s 227.08 was Derek Ward’s 3.599 at 211.83 in his screw-blown ’69 Camaro to qualify second. Mike “Hollywood” Decker III drove his screw-blown Decker’s Salvage Camaro to a 3.613 at 208.68 to end up third. Decker Jr. qualified fourth with a 3.621 at 211.69. Jay Santos recorded a 3.623 at 206.42 in his screw-blown ’69 Camaro to round out the top five. Thirteen of the 16 qualifiers ran in the 3.60s or quicker with Johnny Camp on the bump with a 3.782.
2022 World Series of Pro Mod winner Canadian Spencer Hyde qualified the Jack and Green Stock Camaro in the #11 spot with a 3.69 but was timed out in R1
The first round was scheduled for Saturday night, but rain forced the opening round to Sunday.
Derek Ward driving his new Camaro was up against the blown Chevy of Dave Demarco in R1 and after leaving the line first and with the front wheels dangling, Ward’s car got out of the groove, smacked the left wall, flipped and ended up rolling through the traps to a stop. Ward emerged from the car but the new Camaro was junk.
Decker started his drive to the finals beating Doug “Bubba” Greene in R1 then series regular Freddie Scriba in the second round to set up the match up with the Low ET Camaro of Moyer.
At the green, Decker was off the line first and never looked back clocking a winning 3.647 to the losing 3.719 of Moyer.
Ulsch, near lane, took out “Hollywood” Decker in the semifinals to get the chance to race Mike Jr for the big bucks
On the other side of the ladder Ulsch used a holeshot 3.672 to put away Andy Jensen’s better 3.648 in his Camaro then beat Demarco’s troubled 8.534 with a consistent 3.678. Ulsch followed that up with a 3.680 to defeat Mike “Hollywood” Decker III slowing 4.358.
Ulsch ,far lane, beat a sleeping Andy Jensen in R1
In addition to the NEOPMA show, the J&R Promotions Superchargers Showdown Top Sportsman Quick 16 had some of the best door cars up to the challenge. Leading the show was former NHRA World Champ Ronnie Proctor from Hedgeville WV. Proctor’s Mustang laid down a 4.142 to pace the field. Holding down the bump was the GTO of local racer Mike Pinder from Accokeek MD with a 4.816.
Pinder, far lane, lost to Muller in the semis sending the Pennington NJ. racer to the finals
The semifinals had Pinder losing to the Camaro of Dave Muller as both drivers had identical 0.008 lights. Muller ran closer to his dial with a dead on nine 4.379 as Pinder went 4.835 on a 4.82 dial.
The other semifinal featured the ’03 Mustang of Fredericksburg Va. racer Gary Pitts up against Perry Hall’s Buddy McCowen’s ’68 Camaro. Pitts’ 4.513 on his 4.51 dial prevailed over McCowen’s close 4.673 on a 4.66 dial.
In the finals, it was the ’00 Camaro of Muller off the line first with a 0.012 light to Pitts’ 0.034. At the stripe it was Muller running a 4.374 on a 4.37 dial to a losing 4.514 on a 4.51 dial. The race was decided on the starting line with Muller’s reaction time making the difference.
The race also featured the Warrior Outlaw series on both Saturday and Sunday. Sunday’s winners included Matt Reinhard from Pasadena MD taking his ’00 Trans Am to the “A” class title with a 4.147.
Winning the “B” show was the ’68 Camaro of Scott Vants from Sportsvania PA. running a 4.526.
Scott Vants ,near lane, won the “B” field of Warriors in his ’68 Camaro
MPC Real Street was also part of the Sunday show with the ’86 Mustang of Eddie Aleshire from Northeast MD. taking the trophy.
Virginia racer Mike Gerber had a nitrous explosion in the semis of the Warriors on Sunday ending his weekend