NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

A closer look at the warriors of NHRA Pro Stock racing

Pro Stock is packed with battle-scarred yet never-weary competitors, each drawn to the precision, ever-evolving technology, and razor-thin margins of victory in the class. Here's a look at a few competitors who may not run the full schedule but show up ready to rumble.
24 Jan 2024
Kelly Wade
Joey Grose

While Pro Stock has evolved much since its birth into NHRA competition in 1970, the heart of the class has not changed. Pro Stock is a high-performance playground packed with battle-scarred yet somehow never-weary competitors, each of whom are drawn to the class by a relentless thirst for precision, ever-evolving technology, and razor-thin margins of victory. For some, it's a career. For others, their presence in the class is a piece of their identity — and one they aren't willing to forsake. Here's a look at a few of the competitors who may not run the full schedule but show up ready to rumble when it's their time. 

The Veterans

Perennial Pro Stock racer Kenny Delco is planning his season debut at the very racetrack where he got his first win 34 years ago. In 1990, the Setauket, New York, based driver defeated Rickie Smith in the final round of Pro Stock at the Gatornationals, and he's been chasing win lights ever since with deliberate, quiet perseverance. Delco first entered the class in 1985, which means he's inching up on 45 years with a heart that beats for factory hot rods. 

After rebounding from shoulder surgery in 2022 to race nine events, Delco competed in a handful of races in 2023. This season, with the support of Artisan Coffee, he's planning a robust campaign with races out west and back home in the Northeast, and he'll once again have old friend, longtime engine builder, and fellow Pro Stock veteran Frank Iaconio heading the engine program. 

"Frank has three motors together right now. He's been working on them to see if we can pick up some power — and I think we did," said Delco, who will be joined again by DVS Racing's Val Smeland to round out the two-car team. "I'm looking forward to starting out in Gainesville and trying to do a lot more than last year. You know how it is; once you start, you have to keep going."

Another familiar face on the Pro Stock scene in 2024 will be Larry Morgan, a 12-time Pro Stock winner and a longtime contender in the class. Morgan's most recent victory came in 2015 after an historic one-minute, 32-second burndown with former champion Allen Johnson at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver. The Ohio native has raced against the very best in the class and come out on top, and his oft-jovial nature tempers a fierce competitive spirit, making him a fan-favorite on and off the track. 

"I've been blessed to have raced NHRA drag racing since 1984 for a living," said Morgan, who began as a Sportsman racer and got his first start in the professional category of naturally aspirated factory hot rods in 1987. "We're planning on 8-10 races with [team owner] Mark Beaver in Pro Stock this year, and my other race job is with [2023 champion] Mike Castellana and Frank Manzo in Pro Mod. We've got a good group of guys over there working together — Christopher Menapace, John Glade, Frank, Mike and myself — and we're going to work hard to defend the Pro Mod championship again."

Pro Stock's Mopar Man

Rockaway, N.J., privateer Alan Prusiensky made his debut in the class in 2015, and his ARC-powered Dodge Dart has rolled to the starting line at 10 or more events each season since then. Prusiensky's relentless dedication and optimism have not only kept his own drive alive, it's also fueled the interest of his daughter, 17-year-old Natalie. Dear Old Dad will lead off for the family-owned team in 2024, but he isn't ruling out seeing his protégé in the car at some point in the near future.

"Natalie has grown up at the track – I don't think she's missed 10 or 15 of my 130 races," said Prusiensky, who is the engine builder, crew chief, and driver of the ARC Dodge. "It would be awesome to see her in Pro Stock, and I'm excited to see her want to do it. I like racing, but it has to come to an end at some point."

International Flare

Shane Tucker from Down Under, who made his first start a decade ago at the season-opener, intends to return to NHRA Pro Stock in 2024 after a season cut short in 2023, when he had to unexpectedly return home to the Gold Coast mid-year. Father, fitness enthusiast, and entrepreneur Tucker — co-founder of Volando Tequila — plans to start the season in Gainesville and race 10-12 events over the course of the season.

It's a family affair under the Rob Tucker Racing banner as Tucker's dad, Rob, is team owner and engine builder. The family kicked off their own program and was working to fine-tune it early last season. 

The drag racing Cuadras, of Leon, Mexico, include father Fernando Sr., eldest son Fernando Jr., and twins Cristian and David. Fernando Sr. made his NHRA debut in 2004, and 20 years later, he is expected to race alongside all three of his sons in Pro Stock under the Elite Motorsports awning. David, who raced five Pro Stock events in 2023, was the last to enter the fold as a pro driver, although he has been part of the team as a mechanic alongside his brothers since they began competing in 2019. David's experience spans well beyond turning wrenches — he etched the family into the NHRA history book when he became the first Mexican national to claim victory as the Top Sportsman winner at the fall race in Charlotte last year. 

Straight Outta NorCal

South San Francisco's Steve Graham was deeply influenced as a kid by the plethora of cars flowing through his dad's auto body shop. It wasn't until 2017, though, that he got to dip into the heavy horsepower of Pro Stock, and it brought a surge of adrenaline that continues to push him forward. The Northern California native cut his teeth in Comp and won multiple times at the division level before his first Pro Stock race in Sonoma, and for the sixth season, he'll return in his Southwest Performance & Machine-powered entry, targeting races on the West coast, Indy, and some in the Midwest.

"[Fellow Pro Stock racer] Chris McGaha builds our engines, and they're the reason we continue to run Pro Stock — they help us tremendously, and you couldn't find better people to have on your side," said Graham, who is behind the wheel of the same car Mike Edwards won the championship with in 2013. 

"We're just trying to get better, make more runs, and go to more races in a row to build momentum. Anytime we can string together three or four races, we start running a lot better — so that's what we're trying to build on." 

A couple of hours down the road from Graham, Lodi, Calif., based Joey Grose is preparing for another batch of Pro Stock races. Grose first raced in the category at the 1991 Sonoma Nationals and raced there again in 1992, but life stomped his progress until 2014, when he returned for a two-race season. Grose was back the following season, weathered the transition from carburetors to fuel injection in 2016, and has continued to put forth effort over the years with guidance from those with vast experience — including six-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Warren Johnson. Grose comes from the drag boat arena and builds engines at Ron Grose Racing Engines.

Next Gen

While many of the drivers listed above have been part of the Pro Stock program for decades, fresh faces continue to emerge. Last year, Jerry Tucker raced his first full season with Elite Motorsports, and young Robert River represented Iowa from the driver's seat of the family Pro Stocker previously piloted by his dad, Dave River. Twenty-year-old Brandon Miller, of Canterbury, Conn., settled into Pro Stock while also racing to the Top Sportsman championship last year, and this season, Sienna Wildgust — freshly licensed in KB Titan Racing equipment — is expected to debut with the team that saw Eric Latino transition from Pro Mod to Pro Stock in 2023. 

This is just a taste of what the category rooted in research and development will have to offer in the months ahead. As the class continues to evolve, and with full fields and enduring devotion from its competitors, Pro Stock will be a clash to remember in the 2024 season of NHRA's Mission Foods Drag Racing Series.