Chris Black was in a state of disbelief in the moments after winning the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Mod World Championship at the Summit World Finals last weekend at Memphis International Raceway.
The Butler, Pa., driver had just driven his 1988 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck with a small-block engine to the Mod victory when it all started to sink in.
He had won a $20,000 check from Summit Racing Equipment, a seven-night/eight-day vacation for two on the island of Aruba, a World Championship diamond ring, and of course, an IHRA World Championship Ironman Trophy.
“It’s incredible, a day I never thought would happen, even driving down here,” Black said. “It’s humbling and unreal. You’ve got the best of the best here. I love all the prizes, but I’m most proud of that Ironman trophy.”
He’s most proud of the trophy because he knows what it represents.
More than 8,000 racers compete in the $200,000 IHRA Summit SuperSeries program annually. Of those racers, hundreds of Summit SuperSeries track champions, along with Summit Team Finals divisional champions from around the United States and Canada, traveled to Memphis for the IHRA Summit World Finals.
They represented nearly 100 IHRA-sanctioned tracks at the largest and most prestigious bracket racing championship in drag racing.
Black started his road to the championship by perfectly matching his 6.36 dial-in against Ben Garnett from Smyrna, Del., in Round 1. He then defeated Nathan Van Hoose from Port Clinton, Ohio in a battle of S-10 drivers in Round 2.
Round 3 featured a terrific drag race with Black having .002 light to a .003 for Drew Porcher from Conroe, Texas. He advanced past Cole Casteel from Crosby, N.D., in Round 4 and then made a single pass in Round 5. It set up a semifinal victory over Bobby Paul Arnett from Mt. Sterling, Ky., where Black had a .007 start.
At the end, it came down to just two drivers for the Mod (No Box) championship. There was Black, representing Quaker City Motorsports Park, and Travis Loy, from Harriman, Tenn., representing Knoxville Dragway.
Loy had a slightly quicker .026 to .028 reaction time, but Black had the better overall package with a 6.431-second pass at 100.73 mph against a 6.30 dial-in.
Black, 28, has a decade of experience going down the drag strip, mainly running Mod, but occasionally venturing into Top competition. Still, he admitted there was a battle within at the Summit World Finals, knowing all that was on the line.
“Probably the biggest challenge that I face is myself, mentally trying to stay calm when you’re in situations like this,” he said. “I try to stay by myself back there before going up to stage. It’s pretty rough when you get to those final rounds and know an Ironman is that close.”
Obviously, he kept his nerves in check and was rewarded with a trophy that represents the very best in drag racing.