The Urban Dictionary defines Thunderbird as a tasty high octane swill with ingredients that can make the drinker go temporarily insane.We’d say that’s a pretty good description of Kev Slyfield’s Pro Mod, too
Words: Mike Pye
Nobody goes straight into racing Pro Modified, so backing up a bit, here’ a potted version of Kev’s racing back story: “I’ve always loved Americans cars, and I used to go to Santa Pod when I was a teenager, but I didn’t start racing until quite late in life.” It started with a Dodge Charger in RWYB then, in 2003, moved on to a Plymouth Belvedere in Sportsman ET. “I won the class that year, then put nitrous on it and went into Pro ET. I had a few really good years and that car ran a best of…
Kev stops and looks up to the pin board at work,where a number of tattered timing slips hang…10.41 at 130mph. I was putting so much nitrous through its 440 by that point, though, it wasn’t going to last forever.”So much so, when he spotted an old Willys race car for sale in Norway, he saw an opportunity to move on from the Belvedere and progress up themuch to convince Kev to make the significantly bigger leap.“Having come from running mid-10s in Pro ET, on my first full pass down the track in that car it felt like I had run a six. It was only a 9.1 or something, but that’s how big the difference was.”
The rowdy Willys was a handful to drive, to put it lightly, and Kev’s time with it wasn’t without incident. The car was crashed and repaired at the end of its first season in 2007, then lengthened to the class maximum of 115in in 2009 to try and cure some of its instability issues. Another incident led to it being repainted red with flames for 2010 before Kev decided to take a year out to recoup in 2011. He came back out in 2012, but a further brown-trouser moment atdrag racing ladder at the same time.
The logical step up would have been to Super Pro ET, and that’s what the plan was with the Willys but when, part-way through what turned into a groundup rebuild at Andy Robinson Race Cars (ARRC),Andy happened to mention that a UK Pro Mod championship was in the offing, it didn’t takethe Festival of Power in 2013 saw the car hit the right hand wall and veer wildly across track into the other wall, only narrowly missing Graham Ellis’ Superbird in the process. The car was repaired and back out for The Main Event that year, but by then the writing was on the wall. “We got that car down to a best of 6.52 / 213.