Huw Evans
December 1, 2006
Photos By: Francis Butler

In fact Robert almost decided to take a break from racing completely. "Those last couple of years in NHRA were frustrating. I'd gotten married [to Crystal] and had a daughter, Presley by that point. I though it would be good to maybe just stop racing all together and to just spend time with the family, but it was my mom, Bonnie who convinced me to get back into it. She's nuts about racing and I think she knew that it was in my blood too, but if we were going to do it, the approach would be different."

That approach, meant going back to IHRA and running Mountain Motor Pro Stock again, using his 2000 Mustang based car as the starting block. "When I got back to running IHRA events it was a bit strange at first. I hadn't driven a Mountain Motor car since '96 - so I was on a bit of a learning curve, but I kind of felt like I was coming home. It was even better now that Fords were dominating the series, as opposed to GM when I left." Things went well for Robert during his first season 'back' so to speak. "We finished nineth in the points standings for 2004, won one race and got into the 6.40 club - I was really happy."

For 2005, Robert and his team came out swinging with a new powerplant. "Bob Ingles in New York built a new engine for us - he'd done a lot of work on the Jim Yates motors in NHRA during 1996-97. He built us a monster. We came out of the gate in '05 and a set the national record just like that - the car ran a 6.42 at 217 mph. It was making a lot of power. We had some great races that year - making three finals, with two runner up finishes and one win. We had some wiring issues with the car that cost us a couple of races, but we still ended the season in third place." To cap it off, Robert even managed to set another record before the season was out. "We reset the record at the last race of the year by going a 6.36 at Rockingham, North Carolina - it was even quicker than Steve Spiess who ran a 6.38!"

So, with a good season behind them, the Purvis Ford team look forward to 2006. At the start of the year, running with the 2000 Mustang based car, Robert did well in testing, but struggled a bit during the first couple of races, in San Antonio and Rockingham, but by that stage a new car was already well on its way to completion. "We had been through a lot with the existing car and it had done well, but Jerry [Haas] had built a new one for us and Bob Ingles had done up another 820 inch Hemi head mountain motor. We finally had the car ready for World Ford Challenge 9 in St. Louis, so we brought it out there to do some testing." With its Harry West '07 GT 500 body, replete with racing stripes, the car was a big hit at WFC and also made waves when it was rolled off the trailer at its first IHRA race at Grand Bend, Ontario. "We got it up there and it was running great. I ran a 6.409 in qualifying, giving me the number three spot and in the first round of eliminations it ran a 6.39 - I was the only driver to break into the 6.30s." Clearly Robert was happy with the results. "It's showing a lot of promise - in the last race we went to (at press time-Ed), which was Milan, Michigan, it all came together. We put it on the pole and won the race - it ran a 6.39 right off the trailer."