The TAO of Outlaws

The first Pro Mod Meltdown event of 2012 was held at the eighth-mile Houston Motorsports Park. The event was the season opener for the Texas Automatic Outlaws (TAO) on Saturday, March 17, and when the smoke had cleared Houston racer Chris Smith went home with the cash and bragging rights until the next race.

The partly cloudy spring evening was ideal for the fans and the racers and it turned out to be great night of racing in front of a near capacity crowd. The racers and fans had to wait out two brief rain showers that produced just enough moisture to stop the action on the track but once the rain stopped it took only minutes for the track crew to make the track ready for racing.

Eric Clark put his supercharged Mustang on the pole with a solid 4.09 effort.

Eleven entries pulled through the gate to vie for the eight-car elimination ladder. A number of series regulars, Jeff Benham, E.J. Hickle and Cowboy Woods among others, were not present as they where still prepping their rides for competition debuts this year. The most obvious absence was defending 2011 Series Champion Greg Green who, according to sources, will not be running the series in defense of his title this year.

Local Houston competitor Chris Smith (lead photos) pulled his blown ‘63 ‘Vette out of the trailer for the first time this year just two weeks before this race. He changed the oil and added 125 pounds of ballast to the car in order to meet the minimum 2650-lb. series requirement for blown and turbo combinations. Smith’s first qualifying attempt Saturday night was an on and off the throttle test shot with the newly added weight.

Winner of the final series event of 2011, Eric Clark, had a major thrash just to get to the track for this race. The previous night Clark had run the TOPMA event in Kennedale, where he qualified second and then broke the transmission in the first round thus necessitating a complete rebuild of the Mustang’s tranny. Clark’s first attempt at Houston was to check out the repairs, and everything worked fine.