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IHRA: USA Racing to Defend Snowbird Nationals Crown, Plans for '99 IHRA Title Run

5 December 1998

LEESBURG, VA.-- It was only 365 days ago that Leesburg, Va., based Pro Modified racer Johnny Rocca enjoyed one of the finest race outings of his storied career. He had just wheeled his radical, Prolong-backed, 1949 Mercury to victory at the traditional Snowbird Nationals in Bradenton, Fl. A lot has transpired since then. However, nothing can break the spirit of the man, who flies the Native American banner proudly in the Pro Modified ranks.

"In all things that we encounter in life, there are going to be disappointments," confides Rocca. "To rebound from such adversities, is what separates success from failure in this sport. We have nothing to prove to anyone, not even ourselves. I love drag racing, immensely. That is what fuels my motivation to keep coming back."

Rocca recently announced his intentions to return to the IHRA/Snap-On Tools Championship Drag Racing Series in a brand-new, sleeker 1949 Mercury being built in the Lyman, S.C. based shop of Cannon & Pittman Race Cars. This new ride will feature the same swing-arm suspension developed by Aussie-based, chassis builder Murray Anderson, who built and designed six-time IHRA Pro Modified world champion Scotty Cannons 1953 Studebaker. Motivation will once again come from the talented staff at Eagle Racing Engines in Knoxville, Tn. Prolong will continue to be the primary backer.

The "Ironhorse" will be unable to defend its Snowbirds crown this weekend, but USA Racing fans will not be totally without. Rocca will have his team at the event and do battle with the trusty "Tin Indian" 33 Willys.