Fred Hahn wins 2003 DRO/NMM Pro Modified championship;

Smith claims Sunday¿s Pro Mod final over title contender Patterson


Fred Hahn of West Seneca, N.Y., should head over to Von Smith¿s souvenir trailer and buy a t-shirt or two.  Smith¿s victory over Thomas Patterson in the Prop Mod finale allowed Hahn to win the 2003 DRO/NMM Pro Modified championship by only five points.  After Hahn¿s Summit-sponsored Corvette struggled in qualifying and failed to make the eight-car field, he and his team had to endure the eliminations to see if the title would land in their camp or Patterson¿s.  Mathematically, Patterson had to win the final round to earn enough points to pass Hahn.

Both the event title and point championship were on the line during eliminations at the NHRA AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge, which was held as part of this weekend's NHRA ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals.

After Patterson knocked off Tim McAnis in the first round and second-round opponent Rick DiStefano broke, Hahn¿s crew agonized through the final round.  When Smith defeated Patterson 6.249 sec./228.31 mph to 6.315 sec./222.25 mph, Fred and team owner/NHRA Gasser legend Jim Oddy of Elma, N.Y., finally were able to uncork the champagne.

"In the final we knew Patterson had nothing to lose," said Smith.  "We just tried to keep our act together.  As long as I don't mess up that's okay, but when I mess up I don't like it.  We didn't and the outcome was what we were out there for.  We came into the Pro Mod Challenge in midseason and got to run the last four races.  I wasn't supposed to be in a car this year, so I was pleased to be there.  We went to four finals and won two, it's just wonderful.

"I don't want to be known as the guy who decided this championship,¿ Smith continued.  ¿I'm friends with all these guys.  I didn't want to be a deciding factor -- I just wanted to win a race.  All I can say is that I'm going to win this thing (championship) next year."

¿We won championships in the USSC deals and Super Chevy and Nitro Coupe in IHRA, and now NHRA, so we¿ve really won the championship in everything we¿ve ever done together,¿ said Hahn.  ¿This kind of puts the icing on the cake, especially on this level (NHRA).  We¿re just thrilled to death to be able to win the championship.¿

¿It was absolutely nerve wracking,¿ Oddy admitted.  ¿We¿ve always been in the battle right to the end.  The last round won and lost it.  We¿ve never experienced anything like this.  It was round by round.  I couldn¿t believe the things that were happening.  The scenario that had to take place to make this happen was incredible ¿ you couldn¿t write it like this.  Last round, last race, last run to determine the champion.  It really feels good.  We¿ve won championships now on every circuit we¿ve ever raced in ¿ back in the days of (home track) Lancaster (Speedway, near Buffalo, N.Y.) to Cayuga (Ontario), IHRA, Super Chevy.  Now, to win the NHRA championship is just incredible.¿

So what caused the dominant team to fail to qualify for the final event?

¿Last weekend at Rockingham (N.C.), we ran the quickest run ever in the history of IHRA and came directly from Rockingham to here and just couldn¿t get the car to go down the race track.  The car has a real small tuning window ¿ you go extremely fast or you can¿t qualify ¿ it seems to be the scenario.  We struggled in qualifying and missed it by a few hundredths.  An eight-car field is extremely tough with the competition that¿s out here.  We could have left the car home and still won the championship, the way it worked out.¿

Hahn and Oddy, who both started drag racing in the Buffalo, N.Y., area, have enjoyed success together for many years.

¿Jim was the local hero when I was a kid,¿ Hahn explained.  ¿He won everything in sight.  When I started racing my own stuff, Jim did all my machine work.  We became pretty bonded over the years and I started driving his cars and doing this together and it progressed from there.¿


Dennis Radford, Dodge Viper, 6.381, 220.87 defeated Shannon Jenkins, Chevy Camaro, 7.268,

Thomas Patterson, Willys, 6.336, 221.31 defeated Tim McAnis, Chevy Corvette, 6.347, 222.33.

Von Smith, Ford Mustang, 6.261, 227.50 defeated Mike Castellana, Camaro, foul.

Rick Distefano, Corvette, 6.338, 205.82 defeated Chip King, Dodge Avenger, 6.362, 224.25;


Patterson, 6.336, 221.27 defeated Distefano, broke.

Smith, 6.262, 228.15 defeated Radford, 6.350, 221.89.



Smith, 6.249, 228.31 defeated Patterson, 6.315, 222.25.