The IHRA created the Pro Modified drag racing class in 1990. Born from the Top Sportsman bracket racing category, the ever plucky IHRA recognized the wild popularity of the various quick eight and quick 16 shootouts that were happening all over the eastern (particularly the southeastern) US and decided to bring that flavor of no-holds-barred door slammer drag racing to the national event level. Roughly 14 seconds later, competitors started pushing the rules, going faster, and driving the class to the level it has achieved today. 1992 would bring a particular shockwave to the class in the form of Scotty Cannon’s “Lumina.”
Cannon was a holy terror in the Pro Mod ranks during the 1990s. The man won six IHRA championships (when that title was the premier one to hold in all of door slammer racing). He still holds the class record for the most wins, he was named to seven Car Craft All Star Teams, and perhaps most importantly, his flamboyant style, bad ass reputation, and ability to drive the hell out of a race car helped launch Pro Mods from a group of wanna be Pro Sportsman racers to the veritable rock stars of the drag racing world. Now back to that Lumina.
Lovers of nitrous-fed Pro Mods are often heard to complain that the blown cars are, “nothing but alcohol funny cars with doors.” That’s not true of course, as the chassis of each car are totally different, the motors have some differences, and most importantly, a Pro Mod has a full suspension where a Funny Car has none.
Cannon had always been a nitrous guy from his days of running a legendary Willys coupe and barnstorming the Southern match race circuit and quick eight slate. He made the decision to switch over to a blower in 1992 which was a major piece of news in itself. There weren’t that many guys in the blower ranks at that point, and to hard core followers of the class, this was akin to the pain Boston sports fans felt when they saw Roger Clemens don a Yankees uniform. It was like the Earth rotated backwards on its axis for die hard fans. Cannon, as usual thrived on the controversy. Funny thing was, the motor was to be the least controversial part of the car it was destined for.
In the early years of the class, it was kind of like the wild west. The rules were loose and racers, being who they are, took full advantage. Cannon hired legendary chassis builder Tommy Mauney to construct the car and sourced an Oldsmobile Funny Car body to hang on the chassis. They cut doors in the body, painted it up, slapped some headlight stickers on the front and set to dominating the one and only season the car would be legal for competition, 1992. The hilarious part of the whole thing for us is the fact that the guys didn’t even try to remove the huge flat spoiler/wing hanging off the rear of the car. They had literally built a Funny Car with doors, and as you’d expect, the competiton was not pleased.
Knowing that if they failed to react to the car the class would lose its cool identity, IHRA officials notified Cannon that the car would be allowed to run in 1992, but would not be legal for competition after that. He drove the Lumina to the 1992 IHRA Pro Mod Championship, much to the chagrin of his competition.
We’ve seen still photos of the car, and the photo below was actually snapped from a poster hanging in our BangShift East Coast HQ. IHRA used the car in promotional posters for the 1993 season. Interesting indeed!
We scoured YouTube and located the Zapruder film of door slammer drag racing. This clip is from 1992 and shows the car making a qualifying lap at the legendary and historic Darlington Dragway. The quality ain’t great, but you’ll see this one year wonder in action.
Scotty Cannon is one of our drag racing heroes, this car is one of the reasons why.