Written By Steve Baur
Photography by Kevin DiOssi and Dr. Rudy Rouweyha
Ohio has always been a hotbed for drag racing with dozens of drag strips located in the Buckeye state for many years. While some have gone away, others such as National Trail Raceway, Dragway 42, and, of course, Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, continue a long-standing tradition of drag-racing competition. In addition to playing host to the NMCA All-American Nationals, Summit Motorsports Park is also the home track of VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod driver Dave Roemer, who along with Summit Motorsports Park has a long history in drag racing.
“I started racing with my dad and brothers in 1980,” Roemer said of how he got his start in drag racing. The Ohio native began bracket racing at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk and eventually moved into the quicker pro tree classes such as Hot Rod, Super Rod, 10.90 index, and eventually Top Sportsman. “It’s a natural stepping stone,” Roemer explained of his rise through the ET ranks.
It was in 1999 that Roemer entered the Pro Modified ranks with a 1969 Camaro. And just as he relied on nitrous oxide for a boost in power during his Top Sportsman days, he stayed with what he was familiar with for his Pro Mod effort.
By 2006, Roemer had moved on from the Camaro and competed with a ’63 Corvette-bodied machine in the IHRA, but eventually he stepped away from the traveling races and series after he and his wife welcomed twin girls into their lives.
When he could, Roemer would steal away and run the local Quick 8 races to keep his skills sharp and his competitive nature exercised.
“In 2012, we had a [Chevrolet] Cavalier and ran ADRL Pro Mod and finished 7th in points that year,” Roemer recalled.”
Just one year later, he parted ways with the Cavalier and replaced it with a Jerry Bickel Race Cars-built 1968 Camaro-bodied Pro Mod, which is the car you see here. It is with this car that he made his NMCA debut in Norwalk. While Roemer was always quick on the tree, his equipment wasn’t always keeping pace with the Ohio driver’s skill behind the wheel.
“We had an issue when we went from the 859 to the 903,” Roemer explained. “We used almost 40 pistons in one year and worked on it every single pass—we couldn’t keep it together long enough to win a race.” At that point, Roemer wasn’t worried about performance, but rather just keeping the engine alive and well.
“We used to run Speedtech nitrous and Brandon [Switzer] was working with John DeCerbo and it was working for them,” Roemer told us. “We sponsor races at Norwalk with John DeCerbo. We race together, share a lot of parts and information; we’re very good friends, yet fierce competitors.”
Seeing that DeCerbo was running fast and not going through parts, Roemer made the decision to move to Switzer Dynamics nitrous and EFI systems. With 2 years of EFI-assisted racing under his belt, Roemer reported that the change was a positive move.
“We installed it and went just as fast and didn’t put a piston in it for two years. We have left that alone and just whittled away on the chassis adjustment.”
While Roemer and his team have raced frequently, he has had to miss quite a few races as the devoted family man has had a number of family commitments that fell on race dates. It’s not surprising then that both your racing and testing time is rather limited. However, it’s been a compromise in the engine combination that has likely been a key factor in preventing the Camaro from keeping pace with the rest of the Xtreme Pro Mod field.
Roemer’s current combination is NHRA-legal, as he has occasionally run a race or two in the NHRA Pro Modified category. But while the car is competitive in that configuration, it comes at a cost of not only being set up for quarter-mile versus the eighth-mile race distance with the NMCA and other sanctions, but also prevents Roemer from running the larger 959ci engines that nitrous racers such as Jackie Slone Jr. and Kyle Megginson run.
“We’re looking to upgrade to something bigger to keep up with the ProChargers and twin-turbo cars,” Roemer told us.
Until Roemer completes that upgrade, he’ll continue with the family business, R&R Auto Body, where he and his brothers have made a living since their father Ron opened the business in 1974.
While Roemer started out by helping his father take parts off of cars so many years ago, he is now the production manager for the business. His brothers, Mike and Joe, are the parts and sales managers respectively.
“We started doing custom work and we were painting cars in the garage at home,” Roemer said of how the business began. “We do some collision now, but probably do more custom work than most collisions shops—I’m looking at 7 race cars right now.”
That said, it should come as no surprise that Roemer’s Camaro shows off R&R Auto Body’s beautiful custom paintwork, and keen eyes will notice that the action photos pictured here are quite a bit different from the static photos taken earlier.
“We’ve always called the cars the Gladiator, and we just hadn’t had enough time to add it to this one,” Roemer told us at the NMCA All-American Nationals where he rolled the Camaro out of the trailer with a newly freshened look.
With the Camaro’s look updated, Roemer will turn to the driveline in the off-season, his life in the fast lane perhaps going just a bit faster in the very near future.
Owner: Roemer Motorsports LLC
Driver: Dave Roemer
Hometown: Eaton Township, OH
Occupation: Production Manager, R&R Auto Body
Class: VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod, NHRA Pro Modified
Crew: Co-crew chiefs Mike Roemer and Joe Roemer, Daniel Roemer, Kyle Rapson, Zach Roemer (Joe’s Son), Team Advisor: Charlie Taylor, brings the experience, ran IHRA Pro Stock for years, won national championships in mountain motor Pro Stock, genius in chassis, shocks, gearing and more
Engine: “Big Buck” Chevy
Engine builder: Charlie Buck
Displacement: 903 cubic inches
Block: Dart Billet
Crank: Sonny Bryant
Cylinder heads: Dart
Valvetrain: Jesel Valvetrain
Camshaft—Brand: Comp Cams Type: solid roller
Carburetor or EFI system: Switzer Dynamics EFI with 4 throttle bodies
Power-adder: Switzer Nitrous Oxide, 5 systems
Fuel brand and type: VP Racing Fuels C25
Spark plug brand: Autolite
Headers and exhaust: Pro Fabrication, North Carolina
Transmission: Lenco/Bruno 3-Speed
Transmission Builder: Neal Chance Racing Converters
Clutch/shifter/torque converter: Ty Drive Lockup, ACD Shift Controller
Rearend: Mark Williams
Differential: Richmond Pro Gears
Body and/or chassis builder: Jerry Bickel Race Cars
Suspension (Front): Lamb Struts
Suspension (Rear): JBRC custom adjustable 4-Link
Brakes (Front) Brand: Lamb Disc/Drum: Disc
Brakes (Rear) Brand: Lamb Disc/Drum: Disc
Wheels (front) Brand: Weld Racing Alumastar spindle mount Size: 15×3.5
Wheels (Rear) Brand: Weld Racing Alumastar Size: 16×16 beadlocks
Tires (Front) Brand: Goodyear Size: 25.0-15
Tires (Rear) Brand: Hoosier Size: 17×36
Body modifications: Ultra light carbon fiber body by Tim McAmis
Fiberglass/Carbon body components: Carbon Fiber 1968 Camaro
Safety equipment: Stroud Safety Equipment
Vehicle weight: 2,450 lbs
Quickest et: 1/8-mile 3.79, ¼-mile 5.89
Best 60-foot: .952 at the NMCA race
Fastest mph 1/8- mile 198 mph, ¼-mile 248 mph
Sponsors: R&R Auto Body, DeCerbo Construction, D&S Color Supply, VP Racing Fuels, Summit Racing Equipment, Jerry Bickel Race Cars, Buck Racing Engines, Lenco Transmissions