Derek Menholt figured he had a spot secured for the 2018 DRAG ILLUSTRATEDWorld Series of Pro Mod. After all, the Billings, Montana, native did claim the $10,000 Aeromotive Wild Card Shootout at the inaugural event a year ago, winning his way into the main event.
But Menholt still hoped for official confirmation when a certified letter showed up from DRAG ILLUSTRATEDFounder and Editorial Director Wes Buck inviting him to participate in this year’s running of the event.
Just like that, Menholt had his marquee event for 2018 secure.
“I really wanted to do it because it would be our Super Bowl for the year,” Menholt said. “This is definitely the U.S. Nationals for our team. There’s not a race I would rather be at. Until that letter showed up, I was nervous, but I was really excited to get that letter from Wes inviting us to come. I was extremely excited.”
This time, Menholt won’t have to race his way into the main event of the World Series of Pro Mod, which takes place Aug. 10-11 at Bandimere Speedway just outside of Denver.
His participation in the inaugural place secured Menholt’s spot in the main event for 2018, Buck’s way of saying thanks for believing in the race and the vision he had for holding the biggest and richest Pro Mod race in the history of the known universe.
The payout will again be $100,000 to the winner, a matter that would make winning the event a life-changing moment for Menholt. Oddly enough, Menholt had more fun racing in Denver than he’s had anywhere else, even with the intense environment created by racing for a six-figure payday.
“There was really no pressure,” Menholt said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of money involved, but all the guys were there having fun, everyone was talking to each other, helping each other. It was just a great atmosphere and Pro Mod was the main part of the show. You didn’t have the stress of points or anything like that. It was a fun race for everybody, the fans were awesome and everyone was having a good time.”
As much as the $100,000 winner-take-all payout got the focus, having a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining event was a dominant factor in getting the attention of the drivers.
That was the appeal for Menholt, a Top Sportsman standout who made his Pro Mod debut at the Aeromotive Wild Card Shootout to kick off the memorable weekend. For Buck, seeing Menholt roll the dice and make the 500-plus mile trek to Bandimere Speedway is something he didn’t take lightly.
“To have someone like Derek, who I didn’t even know before the race, come out, test the waters with a new promoter and believe in it, I’ll never forget it and I am so excited to have him back,” Buck said. “He’s earned being in the $100,000 race. He was one of the guys who believed in this deal from day one and that means so much. There’s no possible way we would have this second race without those guys.”
There’s also no way Menholt was missing this event, noting the excitement his 13-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter have about returning to “Thunder Mountain.”
He’s bringing a huge crowd of fans from his area, too, as Menholt expects the 2018 version of the World Series of Pro Mod to be even bigger.
“I think you’re seeing a lot of interest from spectators and racers, and it’s going to be exciting,” said Menholt, who also expects to make his NHRA Pro Mod debut this year. “The entire Bandimere family made it a cool experience. They made you feel welcome and there was just a different buzz about that event. The whole week was fun.”
Menholt plans to enjoy it again in 2018, but he’s ready to compete with the elite in Pro Mod. He’s revamped his turbocharged ’68 Camaro with the latest and greatest from Pro Line Racing, purchasing a new Pro Line Hemi, a new torque converter, a new transmission and much more, all with the hopes of heading back to Billings $100,000 richer.
A year ago, he knocked off local standout Daniel McKune to win the $10,000 Aeromotive Wild Card Shootout before falling to eventual winner Mike Bowman in the first round of the main event. Since then, Menholt’s entire focus has been on the 2018 event.
“My entire 2018 is planned around this race,” Menholt said. “Everything we’re doing is getting ready for this race. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had at a drag race. Our car has showed promise in testing and if we keep showing more, we’ll be able to run with anybody at that race.”
Learn more about the DRAG ILLUSTRATED World Series of Pro Mod, August 10-11, 2018, and buy tickets at www.worldseriesofpromod.com.