E3 Spark Plugs Highlights the Players in Real Pro Mod: John Waldie

E3 Spark Plugs Highlights the Players in Real Pro Mod: John Waldie

Nashville, TN, (April 12, 2018)…In NHRA drag racing, the E3 Spark Plugs Real Pro Mod Series Presented by J&A Service is creating excitement on the track and in the stands. The series allows multiple makes of cars, builders and engines to compete on a level playing field and the result is showing in the stands as throngs flock to this series for the showdown. So far this season there has been barely thousands-of-a-second dividing winners from the runners up in an entry field of over 30 cars.


John Waldie, a.k.a. the “Ringleader” of Real Pro Mod provides some insight on his past, present and future in the sport.


Waldie started in drag racing 55 years ago. Then he was only 15 years of age and he got started when  two high school buddies went in with him to buy a car. “Not necessarily with our parents’ blessings, says Waldie. “We each put in $300 to buy our first 6-cylinder competition eliminator dragster and went racing.”


As a historical fun fact, Waldie says the day he graduated college in 1969, he bought a super stock car with one of his dragster partners, and they went to the US Nationals. He raced Bob Glidden for class. He says, “Bob and I have now been friends for what would have been 50 years this coming fall. He was a great friend.”


Waldie stepped away from the sport a couple times, once when he bought his car dealership and a second time while raising his family. Waldie explains that in the first case, “after I paid off my dealership I returned in 1987 for 10 years of Pro Stock racing.” Waldie claims that racing also relates to the old adage, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”


The second time he returned to the sport, Waldie recalls that by that time Pro Mod was becoming popular. He said, “THIS is the answer! We started off as an exhibition series, and back then I thought if we do this right, we are going to be a 12-race series in NHRA!”


Fast forward to 2018 and Peter Clifford (CEO, NHRA) and Waldie laugh about the comment maybe 12 for this year, maybe a few more next year and adds thanks to E3 and the Whiteley’s sponsorship, 12 seems to work well. Waldie also includes in the current race season the invitation to race Indy Memorial Day weekend, the $100,000 winner-take-all World Series in Denver and testing in Orlando. With various other junior sanctions in the sport, Waldie says, “We have some great organizations out there - Northeast Pro Mod, PDRA, NMCA, the local groups to support, and we are always open to speaking with anyone interested in the NHRA.”


Waldie says that he hadn’t been a driver for many years but recalls his best laps were in his super stock car. At one time team Waldie held a national record running high 11s at 120 mph. Waldie chuckles, “Street cars are running that today.” When they found a pro stock driver, Waldie claims they won a lot of races in those 10 years. “We had a driver as good as there was,” says Waldie. “We were in 18 finals and won 13 races; Indy, Winter Nationals, Phoenix, Englishtown, Montreal, Spring Nationals, on and on. Going into Pro Mod, we won two (2) titles in IHRA in both the ’08 and ‘09 Championships. We also won the first official 16-car field in NHRA Pro Mod, Gainesville in 2010. That was with Kenny Lang and Al Billes. We started in a ‘53 Vette and then on to a winning ‘69 Camaro.”


Of all the time spent at the track, Waldie says the wins are nice, but his favorite experiences are with the people. He adds, “The people in Pro Mod are really neat because of their commitment that it’s-a-family-business-then-we-go-racing environment. I really enjoy it to this day. It’s all about the people and I believe the Pro Mod class really speaks volumes to that.”


Ask Waldie his favorite motorsports hero and he’ll tell you that there are so many great people from the sport, it’s too hard to say. “I’ve been really blessed,” says Waldie. “Bernie Fedderly is a great friend, Dale Armstrong was a great friend, I grew up with Frank Hawley, Rob Flynn, there’s Danny Rowe and Steve Matusek and the list goes on. Everyone is so very influential. We just have to listen sometimes and you realize how important everyone is.” Waldie also adds at the top of the list, Al Billes. “We have raced together for 25 years, he’s one of the finest innovators and he’s incredibly humble. He’s a great guy. We recently inducted him into our drag racing hall of fame in Canada. Plus he was a tremendous driver, and I think he would have been many-a-time world champion driver had it not been for a couple unfortunate accidents. I would rate Al as one of the finest persons in the sport as well as a great tuner, car owner, builder and engineer.”


Waldie praises E3 for helping in the sport. “I think E3 is incredible,” says Waldie. “We’ve met with Don and all of the executives, and it’s just an incredible product and now becoming readily available. They’ve got not just plugs but ignition components that we want to get on the dyno. It’s world-class product, with not just their marketing and engineering, but the way they approach everything is amazing.”


When he is not at the track, Waldie claims he simply enjoys time with his family. “My wife and I have six grandkids, 11 in our family, plus an adopted family. I really try to focus on family more than ever. I also do a lot of church work, some say sometimes too much, and I really enjoy Sunday’s at the races with, some often hilarious, bible studies at the track.” All in all however, Waldie says he loves people and greatly enjoys helping others. “I’ve never really met anyone I didn’t like,” states Waldie. “Danny (Rowe), Steve (Matusek) and I joke sometimes when they claim - we gotta’ reel John in. He’s just way too positive!” Waldie claims he truly enjoys his relationships with the racing community and the automotive industries.


When asking Waldie’s wishes in the future of the sport, he says that he hopes it always remains open to spectators. He says, “We are the only sport with the locker room open. We have a tremendous age allowance with 12 and under with an adult, there’s no charge and it’s a magic growth opportunity with the entire drag racing arena. With a 2-day sell out like Las Vegas for example, that audience will continue coming back. There is an incredible value in drag racing and people can participate at all kinds of levels – from our announcers that want to run a 10.90 Super Street class, to Leah Pritchett proving how you can end up in a top fuel car.”


John Waldie has built a formidable career over the years. As have many with a passion for speed, he’s immersed himself in the sport of Pro Modified drag racing, helped enhance it and he’s built a variety of relationships along the way. He mentions that studies claim Pro Mod has gone to the top in popularity, and says he doesn’t really question the stat. “I think (Pro Mod) shows unlimited growth because of the people, the variety of cars, the power adders, and that people have lots of choices. And I think it’s a really neat family environment. We have the balance of a professional series that still allows family and the career commitments necessary.”


“I think for Pro Mod,” claims Waldie, “the answer is E3, Jim and Annie Whiteley, all of our members, family first, protect our businesses, and then we go racing! I think the key is 12 NHRA races per year. Thanks to E3 and the Whiteley’s, we’re now gathering quite a group of sponsor associates, and it’s a great help for our purses and our points. I think that’s the way to do it and keep the numbers, with good quality shows and lots of excitement.” He praises the class by the fact that “we have old cars, we have new cars, we have the three power adders with turbo, blower and nitrous, we have lots of different body styles, we have some great personalities, and we have a great board leading the RPM surge.”


On the RPM Board of Directors:

John Waldie – the Ringleader

Danny Rowe – the Spark Plug

Eric Dillard – Proline

Steven Whiteley – J & A

Steve Matusek – the Steady Influence


“The cars in Pro Mod are not only getting quicker,” says Waldie, “but the times are getting closer…closest in the history of the sport.” Waldie predicts that with paramount safety, in good air, the class may see 5.70s at 260s sometime soon. He says, “I really believe we have an unlimited future for our class. Come race with us – it will be fun!”


Just like John Waldie, E3 appreciates the support from the racers/teams/participants competing in the E3 Spark Plug Pro Mod class of the NHRA and we are excited for the 2018 season. ?Rob Fisher, E3 Director of Motorsports says, “We are very thankful for everyone in the sport and everyone in the stands!”

For more information about E3 spark plugs and performance ignition products, visit www.e3sparkplugs.com. For the latest company and product news follow E3 on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, or subscribe to E3’s You Tube Channel.



E3 is a true high-performance aftermarket manufacturer providing high-performance spark plugs and ignitions systems for drag racing, off-road, late model, street rod and muscle car, tuner, sports car, marine, lawn and garden and powersports. E3 Spark Plugs are the product of years of fundamental research in the combustion field. The unique patented electrode configuration of the new E3 spark plugs increases the amount of combustion pressure created during each power stroke of an engine, which results in a marked increase in power output, fuel economy, and reduced emissions in gasoline engines.