Mohler floors '98 Neon to a 128-mph record

ON MOTOR SPORTS

Auto Racing

October 13, 2002|By Sandra McKee

Scott "Mo Daddy" Mohler, a Frederick native who grew up in Glen Burnie, graduated from Glen Burnie High and spent some of his free time drag racing near the Interstate 70 Park and Ride, has become the world's quickest and fastest All-Motor, Dodge Neon driver.

He earned the title last week at the National Hot Rod Association event in New Jersey, where he completed the quarter-mile course in his 1998 Neon in 10.62 seconds at 128 mph and won the Sports Compact Pro Stock Class.

"I'm just an average Joe," he said via cell phone after completing his day's labor as a call-center supervisor at Adelphia cable company. "I started racing on the streets when I was about 16, and my dream is to become a full-time racer, capable of making my living at it."

Mohler, however, is not banging any drums for attention. The single father of a 1-year old spends as much free time as possible working on his race car. His three-week vacation is divided around race weekends. He is busy "fine-tuning" skills his dad, who raced in the early 1970s at 75-80 Dragway and Capital Raceway, taught him.

He did not call to tell The Sun he had set a world record.

The only reason it is in the newspaper at all is because the publicist for the NOPI Fast and Furious Racing Series called to say that Mohler, 25, has virtually clinched the Pro Stock title in that series, as it heads to San Antonio for the K&N NOPI Race Wars, NDRA World Finals next weekend.

NOPI stands for Number One Parts Inc. NDRA is NOPI Drag Racing Association. It is an organization and a series that came into being this year after the success of the Universal movie The Fast and the Furious, about the little-known street racing scene in major cities across the country.

NOPI and Universal partnered to create the series for compact dragsters to sell consumer products, but also to educate kids about the dangers of illegal drag racing and to help get them off the streets.

"It is our hope that the NOPI Series will provide the necessary exposure to street racers that there is a fun, safe and lucrative alternative to illegal street racing," said Michael Meyers, president of NOPI.

Mohler said the series has been attracting young drag racers. The age of competitors is from 16 to the early 30s. And it has been drawing equally young crowds averaging more than 20,000 at every race from Reading, Pa., to Palmdale, Calif.

"It's a good series," Mohler said. "You're definitely not spending millions of dollars to compete, and they put on a very entertaining show. And, because I've been winning, I made enough to maintain the car and cover all the travel expenses."

The series has four pro classes. In Mohler's Pro Stock Class, as many as 20 drivers in Dodge Neons, Acura Integras, Honda Civics and Mitsubishi Eclipses compete for eight qualifying spots. They race four-cylinder, naturally aspirated engines that produce more than 350 horsepower.

Mohler won the first two events in his class, missed the third race, won again and then had disappointing finishes of fourth and second and did not place in the last race in Tampa, Fla.

Still, he has a near-insurmountable lead of 320 points over his nearest competitor, going into the final race.

"The car had some problems," Mohler said. "We just found a cracked sensor last weekend."

That was just before he made his world-record run. Now, he said, he is ready to attempt to break the NOPI record he owns in the Pro Stock Class - 10.77 seconds at 126 mph.

So far, it has been a very good year.

He has won two of the three NHRA events he has entered, and next weekend, barring the unexpected, he'll wrap up the NOPI title and the $10,000 bonus that goes with it.

If imitation is flattery ...

Question: Will Winston Cup racing turn into Formula One racing before Formula One turns into Winston Cup racing?

In the Winston Cup series, drivers are known to allow other drivers to pass them to make up laps. On Sunday, Tony Stewart chose to finish second to his good buddy Dale Earnhardt Jr., rather than risk a pass that might have cost him five spots and valuable points in the drivers' standings.

How much different are those incidents from "team orders" and Michael Schumacher's generous gift of victory to his teammate at the F-1 race in Indianapolis two weeks ago?

Stewart and Earnhardt aren't teammates, but Stewart said this week: "To be perfectly honest, Dale and I have always had a really good relationship when it comes to restrictor-plate racing, and we've always worked really well together. Last year, when we won the Shootout [in Daytona, Fla.], he worked with me there at the end. I know he wanted to win the race, but we've always worked well together, and he took care of me there and we won. We took care of him Sunday, and he won."

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