Drag Racing Story of the Day!
1981 AHRA Grandnationals - Pro Stock
By Rick Howard
Chuck Sneed defeated Jerry Haas in Pro Stock. Photo by Rick Howard
Jerry Haas was cooking in Cleveland. Hamstrung by niggling problems earlier in the season, he had his nitrous "mouse" Monza dialed in for the Grand Nationals. His second pass out of the box was a killer, 8.15/171. The figures netted the No. 1 spot and held up for Low ET and Top Speed of the Meet. Chuck Sneed, former bracket racer, stepping up to Pro Stock only four months ago, grabbed second spot. His 540 cu. in. '81 Camaro, sponsored by Sunny's Auto and Agra-Erectors, Inc., cranked out an 8.21/167. Gary Duckworth, second in the Grand American '81 points chase was third, 8.25/167. Chuck Aronson blasted his Shotgun-powered Mustang II into the fourth spot with an 8.30/166.
Jim Feurer's nitrous 363 cu. in. Mercury tripped the lights with an 8.30/168 to grab fifth place. Sixth qualifier, Detroit's Harold Martin, just about has the new nitrous/small block Chevy combination tamed. His "Lil' Kim" Monza's 8.42/163 did the job. Pete Robertson, in the saddle of Mack &Atteberry's striking 512 cu. in. Rodeck Camaro scored an 8.47/154 for seventh. Jerry Janota, driving the Amborn & Janota big-block Camaro was eighth with an 8.49/161.
Chuck Sneed commenced his unexpected march to the finals by defeating Harold Martin, 8.44/164 to 9.03/151 in the first pairing on Sunday. Chuck Aronson's mighty "Shotgun" Mustang II, still involved in research and development, fell victim to Jerry Janota, 8.46/163 to 8.56/158. Gary Duckworth, doing exceedingly well in his first season of Pro Stock, suffered a setback in round one. Pete Robertson as the benefactor of Duckworth's starting line mechanical woes and singled for the win (no times given). As qualifying times show, Jerry Haas had this field covered. Fellow St. Louis area racer "Animal Jim"
Feurer was Jerry's first victim, 8.16/168 to 8.54/167.
In the semi-finals, Robertson also succumbed to starting line breakage, allowing Haas to single for the win. He paid dearly for the privilege by breaking a U-joint, necessitating a change for the final. In the other semi-pairing, Sneed got by Janota, 8.23/164 to 8.57/154 to earn his first final.
This one was close! Sneed's slight holeshot lead pushed his Camaro ahead of Haas at the finish line while both ran 8.25s! Sneed's 8.25/165 beat Haas' 8.25/163.
Chuck Sneed - 20 Years Later...
Chuck Sneed's good-looking 'Code of Arms' Camaro won in its first AHRA outing.
Photo by Rick Howard
I followed-up on Pro Stock driver Chuck Sneed. Chuck was a 20-year old from Greenville, Ohio, when he won his first ever national event at Dragway 42. A check in the phone book revealed that he still lives in the same town (near the Indiana state line about an hour from my house). He gave up Pro Stock soon after his GrandNats win to take over a towing company with seven units which he stills runs today. He's currently heavy into the "UMPS" (my guess, and forgive me for not knowing "roundy-round" terms, this stands for Unlimited Modified Production?) Chuck started his pro career running IHRA and lost his first professional round in Pro Stock against Don Nicholson at the 1980 IHRA Rockingham event. He managed to finish sixth in points for IHRA in 1981.
His '81 "Code of Arms" Camaro, with which he won at Dragway 42, is no longer around. He sold it to Larry Maiola around 1984 and has since lost track of it. The car was built by Chassis Craft of Chicago with the motor done over by "Sunny's Automotive" from his hometown of Greenville. The trip to Dragway 42 in 1981 was his first and only try at AHRA. He admitted that during the first round of the Grand Nats, he shook the tires so bad he almost lost the car. The 40-year old stated he was the youngest member of the IHRA Holley 7-second club (#15) in either 1982 or 1983. He couldn't remember, and I didn't take the time to "look it up myself." Sneed was thrilled that anyone would even remember his win at Dragway 42 and didn't know anything about his name being on the Drag List. He still has the plaque given to him by track officials (shown in the photo above) for winning Pro Stock that day twenty years ago.