Knowing the end of his drag racing career is coming in the not-too-distant future, Pro Modified driver Dan Stevenson deemed this year the “2013 No Excuses Tour” for his team.

Before the season had even started, Stevenson had a significant excuse available.

Slimmed down and armed with a new trailer, new car, new engine and one of the best nitrous minds in the business, Stevenson was dealt an incredible blow before he even made a competitive pass in the X-DRL’s Pro Modified class.

His brand-new 2013 Camaro went up in flames on what was to be the seventh test pass in the car in late March, effectively delivering an apparent knockout punch to a season that appeared to have so much promise.

Once Stevenson returned to his Chicago-area home and got a pep talk from his wife Donna was the point when his “No Excuses” tour officially started.

“To have that happen was just devastating. You come home with your tail between your legs after working that hard, and when I got back I definitely wasn’t the happiest person in the world. Our whole season started upside down,” Stevenson said. “My wife said to take the new motor, go to Tulsa and race. She knew how bad I wanted to race.

“She knew how bad I wanted this and how hard I worked in the off-season, and she said put the motor in the old car and go. It was definitely a wonderful feeling to win the race after going through all that.”

The race Stevenson won was the X-DRL Spring Nationals in Tulsa, which came just a week after his car – and nearly his season – went up in flames.

Not only did Stevenson win, but he dominated in one of the best performances of his career, adding an incredible boost that helped overcome the adversity that he faced to start the season.

The “2013 No Excuses Tour” is off and running and it appears that nothing is holding Stevenson back as he heads to Bristol next week for the X-DRL’s second event.

“I turned 57 (last week). I’m going to go after it and give it everything I’ve got. I’m trying to win a championship,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson also showed his resolve under a vast amount of stress.

He picked up his new trailer on March 23, somehow had it loaded by March 25 and was testing in Bradenton two days later.

After a number of encouraging passes in the new Reher-Morrison-powered Camaro, disaster struck on the third attempted pass on March 29.

“It boomed the third system, took the manifold off, ripped the fuel system loose and the thing was in flames. The fire was out in 18 seconds, but by then the damage was done,” Stevenson said.

Dejected, Stevenson and his team, led by Pro Mod legend Charles Carpenter, headed home, unsure of their next step.

After the pep talk from his wife, Stevenson rolled out his old ’70 Camaro – which he had previously intended to sell – put in his new spare engine from Reher-Morrison and made the necessary updates to get the car race ready.

The team dropped the 2013 Camaro off at Jerry Haas’ St. Louis-area shop, finished the journey to Tulsa and, somewhere in that time span, found a chance to take a deep breath.

“We unloaded the car in Tulsa and went 3.93. It was a wonderful thing,” Stevenson said. “The car picked up all weekend. It ran awesome and it was flawless off the trailer. Once we got there we felt really good about the weekend.”

Stevenson’s weekend started with that 3.93 and simply got better, including a pair of 3.92s during eliminations. He followed that with a 3.907 in the finals to claim a win he will always savor.

He praised the efforts of his team, including expert tuner Carpenter, along with the new Reher-Morrison engine.

“Charles is a great person and I’m glad to be associated with him,” said Stevenson, who is working with Carpenter for a third straight season. “He’s one of the best nitrous tuners in the business.

“After this weekend, we certainly see the promise of the new Reher motor. There’s a lot left in it, and Charles has the ability to get everything out of it.”

Perhaps the biggest commitment Stevenson made this off-season was improving his health.

The new trailer and engine has paid dividends, and he expects big things out of the Camaro when it is repaired, but Stevenson underwent a major lifestyle overhaul in the winter, too, dropping 35 pounds with a new exercise and nutrition plan.

“I had to get my mental status where it needed to be to win,” Stevenson said. “I felt very confident at the starting line. I’ve never been so calm, collected and sure of what I was doing. It’s helped me mentally a tremendous amount.”

The silver lining in all of this might be that Stevenson will have two dependable cars as he chases an X-DRL championship.

He marveled about the new Camaro and its potential, and with the events of last month behind him, it’s clear that Stevenson isn’t letting anything keep him from his goals in 2013.

“I knew what I needed to do to go out and win. All the right tools are there, it’s just a matter of putting all the pieces in the right place,” Stevenson said. “I’m really looking forward to Bristol. We’re just super excited right now.”

Story by Bobby Bennett, Competition Plus. Reprinted with permission. Photos courtesy of Roger Richards.


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