By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The majority of the racers, who drag race, do it for fun. They do it more as a hobby.
And when Danny Rowe was starting out, he also did it for fun.
“When I was younger, I had a passion for cars,” said Rowe at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. “And I worked as a mechanic, which was my goal, as a kid. Even before I started working, I had a passion for cars and loved the old ’66 Chevelle. I worked very hard to get around the sport. For a lot of years, I bought a lot of Hot Rod cars, and I built them up by myself. I didn’t do anything professionally until the late 1990’s. In 1998, I got involved in what was called Outlaw Pro Street back then, which was on the West Coast.”
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That’s when Rowe would take drag racing more seriously. As he moved up, he would receive sponsorship that would pay for his car and the parts that are needed to succeed.
While he was building street cars to race, he never envisioned what would happen next.
“We liked the idea of building a street car, and at first, I did it as a hobby to get involved in the sport,” said Rowe. “I had fun with it; but they had made changes, which became complicated to keep up with the rules. We tried it for a few years, but with the rules always changing, it didn’t make sense to continue. And at the time, the guy helping out with the car, his name is John Selby, who was a famous West Coast Pro Mod driver. And he was the one that convinced me to get into Pro Mod instead of Pro Street, because it is the next step up from Pro Street.”
As Rowe would move up to Pro Mod, he would bring in accomplishments along the way. He was a WCPMA Rookie of the Year.
He also won the 2000 West Coast Pro Mod Association Championship. However, he has fallen short in his chance for two additional championships.
He was the runner up for the 2006 IHRA Championship and ended up the runner up for the 2011 NHRA Pro Mod Series Championship. He lost in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series to current Al-Anabi Top Fuel driver Khalid alBalooshi at the end of the 2011 season.
The two used to race against each other when they were both driving Pro Mod cars.
“He’s a tough competitor,” said Rowe. “All the drivers in the Al-Anabi Racing team are tough competitors. He was doing a great job in the nitrous car, and he was a great driver in it. Also, he had a tuner, who did a great job tuning the car. Really, every year, including that year, Pro Mod has had great cars in it. This year, the Al-Anabi team with driver Mike Castellana has been doing a great job. Pro Mod is a tough class with a lot of great drivers.”
Currently, Rowe is in 7th place in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series points standings with 341 points. He is 133 points behind leader Rickie Smith.
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Rowe has not won a race this season. Smith, on the other hand, has won two races, which were the last two races at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals and the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
Besides Smith, Von Smith, Troy Coughlin, Clint Satterfield, and Mike Janis have also won this year. The NHRA Pro Mod Series returns to the NHRA circuit at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals August 28th through September 2nd.
Yet, Rowe has been approached by several Top Fuel teams and a Funny Car team to drive their hot rods in the future. He said he is intrigued by their offers, but he added that he’s sticking with Pro Mod for now.
“I think the original guy that did that was Scott Cannon,” said Rowe. “He went from being the baddest Pro Mod driver in the country to moving up to drive the Mad Scientist car in Funny Car, sponsored by Oakley. I really believe that there’s always a step forward, and I believe there’s a lot of opportunities to do that. However, I don’t know if my passion will take me to the next level to drive a Fuel car. I’m really a Pro Mod guy, and we’ve had some discussions to move up, but right now, I’m sticking with Pro Mod.”
While the offers to move up are there, Rowe would have to adjust to a whole new car, which would take time. He would go from a 2,500 horsepower Pro Mod car to an 8,000-to-10,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragster or Funny Car should a move materialize.
“I really didn’t know,” said Rowe. “I think from everybody, who I’ve talked to, driving a fuel car has been a challenge, as they are making between 8,000-to-10,000 horsepower. I would have to make a few laps inside them to see where I’m at.”
He said in order for him to be successful in a different car, he would have to drive a new car for a partial schedule. Yet, he added, that while he would do that, he would continue with his Pro Mod operations for a full 10-race season.
“I would have to make a few laps to get comfortable within the car,” said Rowe. “I would have to make sure that I’m ready for it. I’d like to believe that I could drive anything with four wheels, but when you’re in the race car, you really don’t know.”
Rowe will not leave Pro Mod unless it is the right situation for his team and his family. While he is a business owner with an import and trading company, a move would pull at his heart to leave Pro Mod, the only division that he’s raced in professionally.
“It is a challenge, because I love Pro Mod,” said Rowe. “But we have to look at every opportunity that comes to us – and that could make the most sense. We will have to be comfortable, as a family and a team, to do this together. It is not all about me leaving, because if I would leave, I would want to take my team with me to the new team that I go to. Obviously, I would be excited to drive a Fuel Funny Car, or a Top Fuel dragster in general.
“It would be an opportunity that I would look forward to, but I’m not discounting it, and there’s no way I’m not looking at the opportunities, because there’s more exposure and more money in fuel cars, no doubt about it. But it would have to be the right deal for my family and team to leave Pro Mod.”
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