Billes Ready for Anything

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
At first glance, racing in the Mid-South in the middle of August might present its own unique set of challenges but for Al Billes, a crew chief with NAS Racing in the Professional Drag Racers Association, there’s not much he hasn’t encountered before.

Billes and key members of his crew have raced around with world with a variety of racing series in every set of conditions imaginable, so summertime at Memphis International Raceway during the PDRA Memphis Drags is nothing to lose sleep over.

“It’s been hot everywhere we’ve gone this year,” Billes said. “There’s been high heat and high humidity all over the place this summer. This weekend is going to more of what we’re used to running on this year.

“The first of the year, it was very cool, then it got very hot. There was no in-between. Sure you’d love to go to the track and it be 75 degrees, sunny and comfortable. You have to learn to work around the conditions, thankfully everybody is in the same boat.”

The unflappable Canadian is one of the most respected names in Pro Mod racing as a crew chief and engine builder while racing in North America, Europe and the Middle East. This year, he is working on the cars for Pro Extreme drivers Bader Ahli and Mustafa Buhumaid who are running No. 1 and 3 in the class points, respectively.

“We’ve had at least one of the NAS cars reach the finals in every race this year,” Billes said. “Both guys want to win. Mustafa’s program suffered a setback when he damaged his car in Michigan. He and Bader switched places in the points. But that’s motorsports.”

Billes and his NAS teammates will try to keep their finals streak alive this weekend when the Memphis Drags get under way.

Thursday, August 20 will feature day-long test session for its racers. Testing gets under way at 10 a.m. and the track will be live until 8 p.m. Spectator admission for that day is $10.

Qualifying begins on Friday, August 21. There are three rounds of qualifying scheduled and it will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, August 22 is race day with one final round of qualifying scheduled for 11 a.m. and opening ceremonies at 3:30 p.m.

If that’s not enough, there will be a Kids Zone set up on Friday and Saturday and a jet car will light up the night to end racing on both nights. Saturday will also feature match races between “Street Outlaws” stars Chuck and Boosted with Daddy Dave also on hand to sign autographs.

Tickets for Friday and Saturday are $30 but $10 discount coupons are available online (http://www.pdra660.com/2015/memphis/coupon/), at retail outlets around the Mid-South or the MIR office. Weekend passes are just $30 with coupon. If you want to make a weekend of it, there’s still time to reserve one of MIR’s trackside RV spots and bring your motorhome. Pre-sales close on Wednesday. For pricing or to reserve a spot call 901-WOW-RACE.

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