With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing and the quarantine causing people to hoard supplies, Mark “Wood” Woodruff’s “WoodyMart” is well stocked from transmissions to toilet paper, Pro Mods to personal protective equipment, and everything in between. Last year, before the threat of a virus-induced economic slump, the former NMCA Mickey Thompson Radial Wars driver and all-around, radial-tire badass teamed up with NMCA VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod driver Craig “Sully” Sullivan on a new project–a ’69 Chevy Camaro. After consulting with Kris Nelson of Nelson Competition, Woody acquired the Camaro, which was originally built by Darren Breaud of B & B Race Cars, in February of 2019 and got busy working it up to his specs.
Always looking to differentiate himself, Woody wanted something other than the typical Hemi or 481X engines and instead selected a twin turbocharged 4.600-inch bore space, all-billet, small-block Chevy engine from Visner Engine Development, controlled by a FuelTech FT600 EFI system. Woody stayed with his own status quo for a transmission, though, and kept his M&M transmission and lock-up converter as well as his proven Menscer Motorsports suspension setup.
Woody debuted his Camaro at the Lights Out 11 race at South Georgia Motorsports Park in February of 2020, and Sully had the honors of taking the wheel for the weekend.
“Our goal was to have Craig [Sullivan] drive the Camaro and I would drive my ‘Vette,” explained Woody, happy to jump in the driver’s seat of his well-known and widely-feared radial tire ’10 Corvette ZR1. “With a new car, and with Craig not having driven a turbo car much–and with him knowing how much I’d spent on it–he was a little reserved.”
Sully qualified the Camaro 29th in Radial vs the World at Lights Out 11, going 4.262 at 146.83 mph, but red lighted in round one of eliminations and put the car back in the trailer early. The new car blues were in full effect, but Woody and Sully worked quickly to get things turned around.
A few short weeks later, they took the Camaro over to Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida for the NMCA season opener, the 18th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem Presented by Holbrook Racing Engines.
“Going into the NMCA race, I told Craig we were going to switch it up. The Corvette is a well-oiled machine and does what it’s supposed to. I’ve got all the confidence in the world that we have that car figured out, so we put Sully in the Corvette and me in the Camaro,” explained Woody of the driver change to enable Sully some more seat time in a turbocharged machine.
Testing the whole week prior to the NMCA event was a smart move for the men and Sully certainly did his job, quickly getting acclimated.
“He did a wonderful job and now he’s comfortable in the car, cutting good lights, and making repeatable passes,” continued Woody.
Sully drove his own Pro Mod, his ’69 Daytona, at the event and qualified seventh in VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod with a 3.783 at 200.92 mph pass while Woody went 4.200 at 178.54 mph in the Camaro to settle into thirteenth.
“We still had some issues with it and were struggling a bit, but that was the first time I had driven it or done a burnout or anything with it at all,” Woody noted of the performance that was off his usual pace and put him out in the first elimination round as a result.
Woody planned to attend the Sweet 16 race at SGMP after NMCA and left his rig in Florida in preparation for it, but due to the restrictive Coronavirus containment measures put in place, the event was postponed. Instead, Woody flew from his home in Missouri to retrieve it, but stuck around for some more testing in Orlando prior to trekking back to the Show Me State.
“We worked through a lot of stuff to get that car right, and after that last test session, we’re very confident that we’ve got a hot rod and have all the bugs worked out,” he asserted.
The goal was to have the Camaro serve double duty in both Pro Mod and Radial vs the World, but the current hiatus from racing is forcing Woody to pause his plans. Instead of getting upset, though, Woody is just working on replenishing his supplies so he can be doubly sure he’s ready when racing resumes. A second Visner billet engine, built by Nelson, is already in the works so Woody can keep plenty of bullets ready to slide into the chamber when needed.
“You’ve got to have enough components in the car and in the trailer to stay in the game at this level of competition. We’ll be well stocked on everything when we get back at it, but we might be low on Tito’s and cranberry,” he laughed.
Currently, the NMCA Power Festival featuring the Mickey Thompson Radial Rampage is still on schedule and Woody is looking forward to running both of his cars at the event at World Wide Technology Raceway just east of St. Louis in Madison, Illinois.
With the postponement of Sweet 16 until October, the cancellation of the Outlaw Street Car Reunion, and Woooostock’s fate still up in the air, it’s looking like the NMCA race will be the next big radial race on the scene.
“We’re going to try to drum up as many radial cars as we can,” stated Woody, who would love to see the St. Louis racers show their support of the event. “We’ll run the Camaro in both Pro Mod and Radial Rampage, if we can, and Craig will also drive my Corvette in the radial race.”
“My plan is to support and follow the NMCA Xtreme Pro Mod series, and when we’re not running the Camaro there, it’ll transfer over to Radial vs the World trim,” explained Woody, who shocked spectators in Florida when he ran the car on small tires (and with no wheelie bars) in the traditionally big-tire class. “I think with the lightweight small-block combination, we can be competitive in Pro Mod while still being in radial trim. And, I really don’t want to transfer the car back and forth!”
His ultimate goal in doing so is to be competitive in both arenas with the Camaro, while maybe also changing the thought of what’s the default for a Pro Mod, and has already had success with the unique set up with his Corvette at a Mid-West Pro Mod Series event in Tulsa last season. The ‘Vette itself will be relegated to Pro 275 duty with Sully doing the driving, so it certainly won’t be forgotten.
While the world awaits its return to normalcy, Woody is doing what he can to make sure he and his guys all make it through no worse for the wear.
“I told them to do what they feel comfortable doing, and if that means not coming to work, then don’t. I don’t want to put them in a position of risk,” he shared.
Although the global shutdowns are impacting his business, Woody was smart enough to set up his business model to be able to prepare for unexpected downtime and fully intends to take full advantage of the “social distancing” by going to the track for as much testing as he possibly can, while staying to groups of less than ten people, of course.