■ GERRELL APPLO ’ S entrance into the drag racing world through bracket racing at age 16 has led to big opportunities , and if things pan out the way he hopes they will , even bigger opportunities are on the horizon for the Waldorf , Maryland-based driver .
From that bracket racing beginning , Applo moved into no-time racing . He raced on and off in bracket racing and no-time racing while also helping out on the crew of multiple local Pro Mod teams . One of those cars belonged to longtime family friend Marcus Johnson . Johnson saw potential in Applo and offered him the opportunity to drive his nitrous-fed , Fulton-powered “ Bad Dog ” ’ 41 Willys . Applo started driving the car in 2021 to get comfortable before running a full schedule this season . He picked up a couple wins and finished third in the NT Keyboard Nationals Big Tire series .
Applo ’ s efforts haven ’ t gone unnoticed . He also helps out on the Ford brothers ’ Derrick Ford-driven ’ 68 Camaro in NEOPMA and PDRA Pro Nitrous competition , and he ’ s received compliments from some big-name drivers and tuners who follow his racing endeavors online . It ’ s made Applo realize how fortunate he is while providing motivation to keep going .
“ Opportunities are like a gold mine for me ,” says Applo , who credits his parents , General and Tracey , for getting him started in racing and supporting his goals . “ Once you get the opportunity , you ’ ve got to cherish it because you might not get another one . I just try to stay humble . People are starting to notice me – people I didn ’ t expect to notice me – but I have to just continue to be humble because you don ’ t know who might walk up to you .”
Now 28 , Applo is looking for the next opportunity to level up . He has around 30 passes under his belt in the Pro Modified-style Willys , and hopes to move into a heads-up Pro Mod class in the near future , possible as soon as 2023 .
“ I want to be one of , if not the youngest black Pro Mod driver ,” Applo says . “ That ’ s why I say I want to go to the next level . If I can run NHRA Pro Mod or PDRA Pro Nitrous or Pro Boost , that ’ d be wonderful .”
In the meantime , Applo has plenty on his plate . He ’ ll continue to crew on the Ford brothers ’ Pro Mod entry , as well as a grudge car , and he ’ s working on getting his personal car , nicknamed “ Baddgoat ,” back out on the track . The opportunities are abundant , and Applo is grateful .
“ I definitely want to thank Marcus Johnson for giving me the chance to drive his car and get to where I ’ m at ,” Applo says . “ Also , Jack Ford for teaching me everything I know about a Pro Modified ; Jeff Rodgers , Daniel Ravenscroft , and all the other people that helped me along the way .” – NATE VAN WAGNEN DI
94 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 179