It’s Sunday evening, a football game is on in the background, and Cody Baker is lying under his 1969 Camaro, affectionately named Shake N Bake. In just a couple days, his team will be headed to Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Florida for No Prep Kings. But for now, he’s content on the garage floor, freshening the bottom end of the motor and putting new rods in. Baker says doing work like this himself instead of paying someone else to do it is an important part of being able to afford competing in the grueling world of Discovery Channel’s hit television show.
“We leave for Florida Tuesday, and that’s probably a $4,000-5,000 trip,” Baker says. “I’m very blessed in terms of being able to go out and race, but everything that we do is out of pocket. So we have to save money where we can, do as much to the car as we can ourselves, and seek out sponsorships.”
And when it comes to sponsorships, Baker has a big surprise in store for the no prep world.
Meanwhile, just outside Buffalo, New York, Mike Janis Jr. is in the shop at Jan-Cen Racing Engines. Jan-Cen is the home of reigning NHRA Pro Mod world champion Mike Janis, and Mike Janis Superchargers, some of the most recognizable superchargers in the drag racing industry. But today, they’ve got something brewing besides pro mods.
Baker and Janis have partnered up for the final two No Prep Kings events this year, beginning in Florida, as well as for all of season four. Baker will be running a brand new Mike Janis supercharger with billet two-piece hat, sitting on top of his 526-cubic inch Alan Johnson billet Hemi.
“We’re finishing receiving all of Cody’s blower stuff right now,” Janis Jr. says. “The plan is, we’re gonna try to get it out of here today or tomorrow, so it’s sitting in Florida waiting for him Thursday. If everything goes right, he gets it bolted on, and he’ll be ready to go for the weekend.”
Baker has already seen success this year, winning the Outlaw Big Tire class at No Prep Kings twice, as well as the Dirty South No Prep event in Odessa, Texas. But upgrading his roots blower combination remained a priority for him in order to become a contender in the highly competitive No Prep Kings Invitational class.
“I get asked all the time why I’m still running a roots blower,” Baker says. “Not very many people run blowers. I’m running a roots blower because I think it’s the best combination to run. But everybody has some type of sponsor or someone helping them out on the back end with other power combinations.”
Baker reached out to multiple companies in an effort to upgrade his program, and found a perfect match with Janis Jr. Both men could see the absence of blowers in the no prep scene, and the need to revive the fan-favorite combination.
“I’m obviously excited to be a part of that world,” Janis Jr. says of his first foray into no prep racing. “Our biggest thing is surrounding ourselves with really good people. And talking to Cody, I can tell he was a really good, honest, legit person who wanted to step up his program.”
In addition to providing the new supercharger, Janis and his team will be helping with tuning duties and answering questions, both at the track and by phone. That type of knowledge is just what Baker believes he needs to gain the necessary edge in performance over other combinations.
“We outrun everybody to 300-400 feet on the race track,” Baker says. “Where we’re missing out is the last 200 feet, and that’s where we’ve gotta make a push to make power. Mike and those guys, they build one of the best superchargers on the planet. They haven’t done much in the no prep scene, but they know how to make a car haul ass, and that’s what our end goal is – to go out and win.”
With huge payouts and national audiences, the influx of more “professional” teams and tuners in no prep was only a matter of time. Names like Pat & Lizzy Musi, the Bruder Bros., and DeWayne Mills have already made waves. Even Ryan Martin and his famous Fireball Camaro made the move from radial racing. The days of lower budget street racers being serious contenders seem to be gone. It’s not something Baker is necessarily happy about, but he believes it is a necessary step with the current growth of the sport.
“Everybody’s hiring tuners, everybody’s got a professional guy on the other end of the phone or at the track,” Baker says. “And that’s because all of us want to win. We’re racing for a lot of money, and it costs us a lot of money to get there. So if you’re going to spend all the money to go, and to have a race car that’s capable of winning, you want to get the best person to put the best possible tune in the car.”
The partnership with Mike Janis Superchargers is the culmination of a lot of new sponsors joining Baker in 2019. After breaking his Powerglide in each of the first few No Prep Kings races this season, Baker reached out to renowned racing transmission expert Mark Micke, and made the switch to one of Micke’s Turbo 400 3-speeds. He also teamed up with Neal Chance Racing Converters, and will be unveiling a new partnership with Isky Cams at the Florida event. Getting those four major companies on board with his program is something Baker is especially proud of, and a strong foundation for future success.
“I credit this to us going for it and pushing ourselves as a brand, our race car, the Shake N Bake name, and myself,” Baker says. “People are noticing what we’re doing in the racing world, and want to come on board and get their names involved with us.”
Photo Credits: Luis Renova ( 405 Photo ), Adrian Berryhill, Randy Curtis, DW Photo & Media, Tracy Waters