Drag Illustrated Issue 180, January / February 2023 - Page 111

CREW OF THE YEAR ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||


Competing on a championship level in a single-power-adder class is one thing . Carrying that same level of performance over to a multi-combination class – with a combination that by many accounts is at a disadvantage – takes something more .
Throughout the 2022 season , Jim Halsey ’ s Pro Nitrous team proved they have the consistency and dedication it takes to not only continue dominating in PDRA Pro Nitrous , but also stomp a field full of boosted cars in outlaw Pro Modified competition .
Halsey won two PDRA races and qualified No . 1 at four on his way to an unprecedented fourth Pro Nitrous world championship . He then closed out the season with a $ 51,000 win at the Snowbird Outlaw Nationals at Bradenton Motorsports Park .
Those are just the latest in a long list of accomplishments Halsey has enjoyed with his tight-knit team over their two-plus decades together . Halsey and his wife , Cathy , started dating in 1987 , the beginning of a relationship that has including managing the Crouse family businesses , owning and operating Cecil County Dragway , and going racing together .
Crew chief Eric Davis , whose father built engines for Halsey ’ s early bracket cars , officially joined the team in 2000 after Halsey ’ s five-year hiatus from Pro Modified racing . Michael Mc- Millan came on board in 2010 , and tuner Brandon Switzer started working with the Halsey team in 2017 .
“ Because me and Eric and Michael have worked together for so long , we kind of know what each other ’ s thinking ,” says Halsey , who ’ s sourced engines from Fulton Competition Engines since 2000 . “ When we come back to the trailer after a run , we don ’ t really talk about anything , we just go do . We ’ ve been doing it so long – and Brandon ’ s been doing it so long – we kind of speak the same lingo from back in the carburetor / clutch days . It ’ s like an assembly line . Nobody has to ask . Nobody has to be told . It ’ s like a well-oiled machine .”
The team ’ s rhythm was put to the test at the 51st annual Snowbird Outlaw Nationals at Bradenton in early December . Halsey qualified fifth for the 32-car show with a 3.612-second effort , rounding out a top five that included roots blowers , screw blowers , ProChargers , and turbochargers .
He then won the race , using a 3.627 to defeat Jason Lee ’ s ProCharger-boosted 3.673 in the final round . Between testing , five qualifying sessions , and five rounds of eliminations , Halsey made 11 consecutive passes between 3.61 and 3.68 . It ’ s an accomplishment Halsey attributes to the team ’ s rigorous maintenance program .
“ First of all , we knew the rules going in , so we knew if we were going to pull it off , we had to play ball with the big boys ,” begins Halsey , who drove his “ Daddy Shark ” ’ 68 Camaro back to the trailer after the winner ’ s circle celebrations . “ Our plan was every run or two , the thing was coming apart , no matter what . Didn ’ t matter if it was hurt or it wasn ’ t hurt .
“ I don ’ t remember how many times the engine was apart through the weekend , but it was apart three times on Sunday . We made five runs on Sunday and it was apart three . We had three fresh racks of pistons , rings , and rods hanging in the trailer ready to go Sunday morning for race day .”
After each accomplishment this past season , Halsey gave all the credit to his small but mighty team . He echoed that when notified that his team won the DI Crew of the Year Award .
“ They don ’ t get the credit they deserve ,” Halsey says . “ I try to give it to them as much as I can . They ’ re not volunteers – they get paid – but this is their hobby more than anything . If I didn ’ t pay them , they ’ d probably still do it . Their dedication to the team and to me … I ’ ll never be able to thank them enough .” – NATE VAN WAGNEN DI
January / February 2023 DragIllustrated . com | Drag Illustrated | 111