Drag Illustrated Issue 179, November / December 2022 - Page 34


Taming the ‘ Savage ’ Beast

Steve King , Jeff Miller , and Gene Pilot form winning combination in NEOPMA By Dennis Quitoni

Sometimes bracket racing just does not ignite the adrenaline fire that highspeed , heads-up racing does . Steve King , a bracket racer from Virginia , felt that fire in 1999 . He went about doing research to find a class to fit into and wound up liking the NMCA and NSCA . He purchased a car , a motor , the needed equipment , and set out to conquer the world of Pro Street .

Conquering the world did not come easy , so King called on a friend with a lot more driving and mechanical experience . Jeff Miller is a master auto mechanic with a ton of drag racing on his resume , and so with Miller in the driver ’ s seat , King and Miller again set out to conquer the world .
After a couple of seasons , Miller realized he needed to concentrate on the mechanical needs of the car as well as the tuneup , and relinquished driving duties back to King . They ran well for a bunch of years , then switched over to Pro Mod , but conquering the world of Pro Mod drag racing was really putting a strain on their resources .
Along came businessman Gene Pilot , a drag racer looking for a car , so a mutual friend arranged a meeting with Miller and King . Pilot was aware of the talent Miller and King had as a team , but he also saw how limited in resources they were . The duo was not looking to sell what they had , but when Pilot had them list everything
needed to be front runners , a partnership developed and Pilot became the team owner , Miller the crew chef , and King the driver .
The team has found a home with the Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association ( NEOPMA ) racing their Larry Jeffers-built 2019 Corvette nicknamed “ Savage .” Powering the savage is a screw-blown 526ci Mike Stawicki Hemi , and with tuning help from Jon Salemi , the Savage has gone down the eighth mile in 3.593 seconds at 210 mph .
The Pilot / Miller / King team brings a large crew to the races , mostly comprised of family and crew members that have been an integral part of this
team from the start .
Pilot kept his promise to supply them with everything needed to be front runners and a threat at every race they attend . Therefore , the team ’ s mantra is “ second place don ’ t count .”
One of the team ’ s 2022 highlights came at the Empire Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Challenge II at New York ’ s Empire Dragway in mid-June . King qualified third , set a track record , and reached the final round , where he came up just a little short to eventual back-to-back NEOPMa champion Mike Decker Jr . in a side-by-side 3.60-second final round . DI
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