That Time Bret Kepner Predicted The Future Of Pro Stock…40 Years Ago

That Time Bret Kepner Predicted The Future Of Pro Stock…40 Years Ago

(Story reused with Bret Kepner’s permission) – Proudly we have had more than a few examples of Bret Kepner’s work appear on BangShift over the years. One of the preeminent announcers and historians of the sport, Kepner is never one to mince words or lead readers down the wrong path when it comes to reality versus perception in drag racing. This is clearly not a new trend and there’s some reading down below that’ll blow your mind as proof.

After the big NHRA announcement this week about the NHRA allowing any accepted engine combo in any accepted body for the 2018 season at the teams behest, many people have freaked out. We aren’t blaming them but we are also aware of the fact that when it comes to drag racing, nothing is new and the whole sport operates in some fairly predictable cycles.

40 years ago, nearly to the month Bret Kepner wrote his Super Stock & Drag Illustrated column, “Roadwork” on the subject of the IHRA’s pro stock class and how it sure seemed like any and all pro stock racing was heading in a particular direction. Turns out it was…just at a glacial pace.

Reading this with one eye it seems like a march toward an inevitable end. Reading it with another seems to show how long and hard that inevitable end was staved off for so long by the NHRA. Either way, this is awesome and well worth a few minutes of your time.

Here’s Bret’s own words to set up the piece and it is a HECK of a read –

In light of recent events, I’m going to leave this right here. Just a few months shy of forty years ago, I penned the words in the attached images for my monthly “Roadwork” column in the May, 1979, issue of “Super Stock & Drag Illustrated” magazine. Once published, it became the first of my manuscripts to effect change within the industry. I’m not insinuating the same can be achieved four decades later. If nothing else, this edition will serve as proof to the younger fans there is nothing new under the sun.

Click on the images to expand them for a less squinty reading experience –

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13 thoughts on “That Time Bret Kepner Predicted The Future Of Pro Stock…40 Years Ago


      My sentiments exactly.
      Super Stock and Drag Illustrated,forever in my heart.
      What a great magazine!

  1. Donny Chops

    Pro Stock has become boring to say the least but changing to the any motor in any body is just turning these lumps into Comp Eliminator cars . So let these rich dumb asses drop their millions on crap nobody wants to see . Nothing will change the fan base. It’s over , dead , capoot , so say good night Gracie .

    1. Joe Skaug

      Donny Chops, you are so right. As for Kepner, I was tired of him years ago. A man of way too many words, I used to see Kepner only on the very minor cable channels. The majority of fans still don’t know who he is and really don’t care.

  2. Thomas P Murphy

    When I was younger and deep into drag racing every Sunday at Etown, a guy there was running a 65 mustang with a sbc for power. It ran and sounded great. That combo has stuck with me to this day as something cool and unique, certainly for that time.
    I am a little conflicted with the any motor/body combo as it relates to today’s pro”stock” class. I believe it will erode loyalty and any semblance of the original intent of the class. I’ll still watch as I’m hard core. Hope it doesn’t turn unto a bracket class….not that there’s anything wrong with bracket racing….its what I do currently (motorcycle).

  3. James Vasser

    So basically pro stock becomes a sort of naturally aspirated version funny car. Where as the Gen II hemi is the basis for all power plants in the fuel classes, it looks like the GM/Chevrolet based power plant will become the engine of choice for any competitive pro stock car. Just a different body. So if the fans want a real brand vs brand battle in something we could relate to and potentially buy ourselves we have to watch super stock or the classes the Cobra Jets, Yenkos, and Drag packs run in. Or we get off our butts and run what we got at home on our local tracks when we have time and stop paying to go see what amounts to automotive WWE.

  4. Chuck Caston

    Bracket racing is totally stupid –A drag race is 2 vehicles SIDE BY SIDE , heads up pro start !!!!!!
    This BS of having one vehicle take off , and then another afterwards is confusing to a lot of spectators wondering \”what is this ??\”Then , a good share , the winner goes across the line with his brakes locked up
    ( to keep from breaking out)
    Wonder why the spectators head for the consession stands in droves when this clown show comes on
    I started drag racing in the 50\’s when it was FUN —-Raced steadily for 15 yrs till this handicap crap came in — I held numerous national records for various sanctions , but the advent of handicap racing ended that
    Makes the strong weak ,the weak strong
    Still love the NHRA pro classes , where racing is done heads up , but couldnt begin to afford any of them — I was there for the
    \”Golden Years\” , thank God

  5. Cameron Mataka

    I\’m glad Pro Stock has adopted this rule and will continue.Mopar_hasntndone much since they can\’t use nitrous anymore….so sorry. Ford .ca t ruin PS like they did Funny Car racing and use a Lamborghini looking body and say it\’s the new sleeker Mustang. …so if Ford manipulate then rules they see no point is competing on the up and up.So natura, selection has deemed the GM superior.

    1. Ken Bashara

      I hate to say everytime Mopars start dominating, NHRA changes some rules to benefit the other makes. Greg Anderson cried like a baby when AJ & Jeggy were dominating the class, lo & behold NHRA puts the rev limiters on the Mopars now they don’t have any top end.

      1. Bill Reilly

        Amen brother. If it\’s not a Chevy powered, nhra doesn\’t have an interest. They\’ve legislated Chevy dominance since the Sox and Martin era. I\’ve been to 3 national events in the last 4 year\’s. I watched the under appreciated sportsman quals and eliminations. Didn\’t stay for the pro show. 75 per cent of those sportsman cars are Chevies. There are ways to make all makes competitive. In my opinion, can\’t speak for anyone else, every time Chevy cries, nhra legislates a binkie for them.

  6. Ted

    If Pro Stock had stuck to the legitimate built at the factory formula it’d still be a winner. No one loved the Grump more than me but the V8 Vega ruined Pro Stock, you have to be honest and admit it. That being said, if Mopar had built and sold a 360 4 speed Daytona I’d have been all over the thing, or a big block powered Cutlass like WJ’s? I’d have murdered for that car. Just my 2 cents….

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