From Florida to Alaska and back again Brian Robbins and Keith Engling's 2005 Season "A Pro Street Odyssey"
HIGHLAND, MI - The Michigan based Duo of Brian Robbins and Keith Engling put on almost as many miles hauling their '72 Olds 442 this season as the car had on it before it was transformed into one of the baddest Pro Street cars on the planet. OK, not quite but damn close. (Yes! The Skinny Kid Race Cars built 442 started life as an all steel production model.)
Beginning in January and ending in October while logging nearly 30,000 miles makes for a long season. Add to that two trips to Florida, one to Alaska, and the rebuilding of your race car makes the season feel even longer but, both Robbins and Engling wouldn't trade it for the world.
The Michigan duo's season almost began and ended on their first outing of '05. At the US Street Nationals in late January when at the held at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton Florida veteran shoe Brian Robbins lost control of the 442 after fluid got under the rear tires. The slippery ride sent Robbins into the wall and nearly destroyed Engling's work of art.
In the subsequent months that followed Engling and his talented crew at Skinny Kid Race Cars in Highland Michigan were able to resurrect the remains of the Olds and eventually return her to competition with Robbins at the wheel. Their first NMCA outing of the 05' season wasn't until the third event on the trail, the 4th Annual Lunati NMCA Hot Rod & Muscle Car Nationals, in Bowling Green, Kentucky where Robbins wheeled the repaired Olds into the winner's circle.
Out of the eight scheduled NMCA events Robbins and Engling were able to make four and they made the most of each appearance. Robbins made the finals at every NMCA event they attended and finished the season second in points. You might say "Not Bad". Well if that was the end of the story, maybe but it's not the end.
Between NMCA races the Duo from "The Wolverine State" showed their tenacity by attacking every event they could including two IHRA national events where Robbins recorded a career best at the wheel of the Olds just missing the field for Pro Mod. They also took home winning honors at Milan Speedway's Race Wars in a "Run What Ya Brung" format but, the point of the season which stands out most to Robbins, Engling and their families was their trip to Alaska.
What was originally scheduled as a match race turned into an exhibition of both Robbins' driving prowess and Engling's race car fabrication as Robbins set the track record books on fire with a 6.53, 6.49, 6.41 and finally a 6.38 at 214. Not only did Robbins set and rest the Alaska Raceway Park track records on each pass. Engling's daughter Samantha set the track's Jr. Dragster record with a 7.83. Several of Engling's customers from his Skinny Kid Race Cars shop were also on hand with their rides and showed the Alaskan fans what Drag Racing is like in the mid-west.
Robbins and Engling ended their season this past weekend in Orlando Florida at the Orlando World Street Nationals. Robbins qualified seventh in the 32-car field with a 6.606 at 214.79. Robbins took a solo into the second round when Doug Horween failed to make the call to the lanes. In round two action Ben Hopko handed Robbins the win when Hopko red lit. In the quarterfinals Robbins squared off with multi-time IHRA Pro Modified World Champion Shannon "The Ice Man" Jenkins at the wheel of his Speed tech backed Camaro. Robbins nailed "The Ice Man" to the tree with a .033 reaction time to Jenkins' .079 but, Robbins' cat like reflexes weren't enough to hold off Jenkins and his well funded machine as Robbins went into tire shake and was not able to recover. Jenkins took the win with a 6.484 at 217.07 to Robbins disappointing 6.760 at 211.76.
With a few months off before the start of the 06' season both Robbins and Engling are looking forward to spending a week or two at home with their families before they embark on preparation for 06.
Both Engling and Robbins would like to take the time to thank their sponsors for their support this season and would appreciate if you would take the time to visit their sponsor's websites.
Story by Rob Kozak