Rodger Brogdon is still best known to drag racing fans for his wild wreck at St. Louis in 2005, where he was upside down at 205 mph.
The 46-year-old Texan believes it’s time to be known for something else -- the NHRA Pro Stock driver ready to challenge the mega-teams in the class.
The Pontiac driver feels his team is close to that goal coming into this weekend’s Ford Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
“There are about eight teams, very well-funded with good people working for them,” he said. “As far as the funding, we have all that in line. We’re missing one or two key people, but we have the main nucleus down at the shop in Houston. We need to get about two-hundredths out of the engine and another hundredth out of the car and we’re right there with them.”
A successful business owner outside of racing, Brodgon operates companies in roofing, home building, real estate, apparel and financial investments. As a race car driver, he broke through with a his first No. 1 qualifying effort last season at Gainesville and was runner-up to Vincent Nobile at Houston.
Currently 10th in point standings, his best effort this season came at the Kansas Nationals where he lost a close race in the semifinals to defending Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson. Brogdon knows those close races are commonplace in the Pro Stock category with the margin between winning and losing often razor-thin.
“Sometimes out here, the No. 1 and the No. 16 qualifier might be off by six or eight hundredths of a second,” he said. “To put it in perspective, it takes a tenth of a second to blink your eye. So in the blink of an eye, you have 16 cars all stacked in there. It’s about as competitive as you can get.”
However, Brogdon insists he’s in it for the long haul. He and racing partner Steve Kent moved the team to a 17,000-feet shop in Houston last season and decided to leave the Cagnazzi Racing engine program and move the operation in-house.
“We started our own engine program last year and it’s headed in the right direction,” he said. “It’s going to take a few months to catch up, although you never catch up, you’re always behind. But, we’re within three to four hundredths of the fastest guys so we’re gaining.”
It’s often hard to gain ground at Bristol, a track which has both altitude and a bumpy racing surface. He took part in a Pro Stock test last week trying to get a handle on Thunder Valley. It was key because Brogdon said at Bristol, drivers are literally left spinning their wheels.
“You have to run a totally different set-up than anywhere else we run across the country,” Brogdon said. “You have your hands full, especially the first time you go down it, because you’ve told yourself that it’s bumpy. Until you go down it, you don’t realize how bumpy it is. When that thing gets bouncing, it’s hard to settle it down. When it’s bouncing, it’s spinning and not going as fast as it can.”