Pro Stock Goes Way Back at New England Dragway

The prestigious Pro Stock category has only been contested at New England Dragway six times since NHRA sanctioned the drag strip for national events in 2013. Pro Stock’s history at the charmingly historic facility, though? Well, that stretches back to the 1970s and the early years of this super-cool class of precision and skill.

Last year was a bust for more than one racetrack across the land due to COVID-19 and the restrictions that came with it, and New England Dragway was one that was, dishearteningly, crossed off the list. For the Pro Stock competitors (who race most – but not all – events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series), picturesque Epping, New Hampshire, hasn’t been a pin on the map since 2018.

Chris McGaha won the last time the naturally aspirated factory hot rods were hosted there, and he beat red-lighting fellow Texan Erica Enders for the New England Nationals trophy. It was the seventh trophy of his career (he’s now up to eight with a 2019 Norwalk victory).

No. 1 qualifier Chris McGaha is interviewed in the tower at New England Dragway in 2015

McGaha is one of five modern-day Pro Stock drivers to have scooped up a trophy worthy of the finest and freshest lobstah and Boston lager. Other winners there include Enders (2017), Greg Anderson (2015 and 2016), Dave Connolly (2014), and Allen Johnson (2013).

Dear reader, you may have astutely noted that four-time world champ Anderson is the only driver on the list to have won Epping twice – but hold on just one moment. There is another list.

The one that dates back to the 1970s.

Back then, the Pros earned championship points at both national and divisional events. NHRA Pro Stock has been contested in Epping since nearly the beginning of the class.

Though others came before him, “Dyno Don” Nicholson took home the trophy with a final-round defeat of Larry Lombardo in 1977 — the first year this writer was able to track wins/final rounds for this facility. Ronnie Manchester won Epping in 1978, and Frank Iaconio, who still builds engine for Pro Stock, claimed back-to-back victories there in 1979 and 1980.

Two-time Epping winner Frank Iaconio, left, with fellow Pro Stock veteran Kenny Delco in 2014

Iaconio and Anderson both have more than one New England Dragway trophy, but check out the scorecard below. Mopar man Johnson (aka AJ) only raced there five times between the track’s first NHRA national event in 2013 and his retirement from Pro Stock at the conclusion of 2017. In those five years, the 27-time category winner reached the Epping Pro Stock final three times – more than any other Pro Stock driver yet.

Allen Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock world champion, with wife Pam; mom Revonda; and dad Roy in 2016

NHRA Pro Stock at New England Dragway
(not all-inclusive; Pro Stock racing began there before 1977)
1977 Don Nicholson defeated Larry Lombardo
1978 Ronnie Manchester def. Rich Simone
1979 Frank Iaconio def. Ronnie Manchester
1980 Frank Iaconio def. Bob Ingles
2013 Allen Johnson def. Shane Gray
2014 Dave Connolly def. Jonathan Gray
2015 Greg Anderson def. Allen Johnson
2016 Greg Anderson def. Allen Johnson
2017 Erica Enders def. Tanner Gray
2018 Chris McGaha def. Erica Enders

One more notable that jumps out from the scorecard: how about Gray Motorsports? Shane Gray was a finalist there in 2013; his brother, Jonathan, was in the final in 2014; and Shane’s son, 2018 Pro Stock champion Tanner, was runner-up in 2017. Someone get Gray Motorsports patriarch Johnny Gray on the phone, because we’d like to see this issue resolved – unless you consider the fact that Connolly’s defeat of Jonathan in 2014 was actually an all-Gray Motorsports final.

The track records at New England Dragway were set before the switch from carburetors to electronic fuel injection, but word on the street is that it could be wicked-fast there this weekend – and track records have actually been broken in this still-moderately-new era of Pro Stock. We shall see, but here’s what you need to know:

• Shane Gray holds the track record for elapsed time, 6.485-second (2014)
• Greg Anderson holds the track record for speed, 214.72 mph (2015)

Track record holder and two-time New England Nationals Pro Stock winner Greg Anderson, right, with Rookie of the Year contender Dallas Glenn in 2015.

While we’re at it, scroll down to see New England Dragway low e.t. and top speed by event since 2013.

2018
Low ET: Greg Anderson 6.517 seconds
Top Speed: Tanner Gray 212.69 MPH

2017
Low ET: Tanner Gray 6.501 seconds
Top Speed: Erica Enders 213.16 MPH

2016
Low ET: Jason Line 6.567 seconds
Top Speed: Jason Line 211.13 MPH

2015
Low ET: Erica Enders 6.506 seconds
Top Speed: Greg Anderson 214.72 MPH

2014
Low ET: Shane Gray 6.485 seconds
Top Speed: Jeg Coughlin Jr. 214.25 MPH

2013
Low ET: Jeg Coughlin Jr. 6.533 seconds
Top Speed: Mike Edwards 212.79 MPH

That’s all, folks. At least from us, and at least for today. If you’d like tickets to this weekend’s TascaParts.com NHRA New England Nationals presented by Bandero Premium Tequila, make your way over to NHRA.com.

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