Romine ready to Defend Title

INDIANAPOLIS -- A year ago, Paul Romine entered the season opening IHRA Winter Nationals relatively unknown. He competed in IHRA drag racing with a Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but had limited success.

INDIANAPOLIS -- A year ago, Paul Romine entered the season opening IHRA Winter Nationals relatively unknown. He competed in IHRA drag racing with a Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but had limited success.

That all changed though after the ‘97 edition of the Winter Nationals was completed.

With 1978 IHRA Top Fuel World Champion Clayton Harris turning the wrenches, Romine qualified on the pole at the ‘97 Winter Nationals with a 4.91. He then proceeded through eliminations with four-second performance, capturing the event victory.

“Last year’s Winter Nationals couldn’t have been scripted any better,” Romine said. “We showed up at Darlington (last season’s Winter Nationals location) with a new car and a crew comprised of the same people we had on our nostalgia dragster. Other than Clayton, no one really knew who we were. We went out and qualified number one with then the quickest time in IHRA history. We won round one, then in the semi-finals we recorded the first 4.80 elapsed time in IHRA history, earning a birth in the final against Shirley (Muldowney). In the final, we beat Shirley with yet another four-second elapsed time, earning our first Peetie....I’ll never forget that event.”

Other than the misfortune of a Top Fuel ‘blowover’ at the second IHRA event in Bristol, Romine had a dream season. He gained sponsorship from CARQUEST Auto Parts in mid-season and when the season was completed, Romine had won 16 of 19 rounds, capturing the IHRA Snap-on Drag Racing World Championship.

That was last year though, now it’s 1998 and everyone knows the name Romine...he’s the driver everyone is shooting for a top the IHRA Top Fuel standings.

“We finished 1997 first in points, but this is a new season and everyone begins tied for first, it’s going to be a tough season defending our title,” Romine said. “Everyone is getting faster and faster and the gap has closed between the performance we had last season compared to the other teams. At last season’s Winter Nationals, four-second elapsed times were rare, but by mid-season it took fours to be competitive and at the Snap-on Finals, it took a 5.06 just to get in the show.”

“Doug Herbert is hungry to get the title back and he’s comprised a great crew who have showed their worth in NHRA competition this season,” Romine said. “But we can’t just worry about Doug, there are a lot of other competitive cars our there and many we don’t even know about yet. Just look at Steve Smith last season. He built a competitive team and by the end of the year, we knew he was for real as we raced him in the final at the Snap-on Finals. Just a few weeks ago at the NHRA Gatornationals, he went out and ran 4.80 at 300, that’s impressive. Then there are driver’s like Danny Dunn, Bruce Litton who will be there in the title hunt, it’s not going to be an easy season defending the championship.”

Romine begins his title defense, March 27-29, at the Prolong Super Lubricants Winter Nationals at DeSoto Memorial Dragway, Bradenton, FL. The dragway is located just of I-75 at Exit 42. Proceed nine miles east on State Road 64 and the track will be located on the right.

An hour program of the Prolong Super Lubricants Winter Nationals will air on ESPN2 April 11 at 3:30 p.m. (eastern) and will re-air, April 18 at 4 a.m. Check your local listings.

CARQUEST Corporation began 23 years ago with 100 auto parts stores. Today there are over 3,000 CARQUEST Auto Parts Stores serving all 50 U.S. States and Canada. CARQUEST supplies the professional automotive service repair industry as well as do-it-yourselfers with replacement parts, tools and equipment. CARQUEST is committed to providing auto parts and services of the highest quality and greatest value to its customers. For the location of the CARQUEST Auto Parts Stores nearest you, call 1-800-492-PART or check out CARQUEST on the World Wide Web at WWW.CARQUEST.COM. CARQUEST Auto Parts is the primary sponsor of IHRA Top Fuel World Champion Paul Romine and IHRA Super Eliminator driver Scott Ray. In addition, CARQUEST is the title right sponsor of the IHRA CARQUEST Empire Nationals, July 10-12, in Rochester, NY and the IHRA CARQUEST Northern Nationals, July 31-Aug. 2, in Stanton, MI.

CARQUEST TOP FUEL DRAGSTER RACING NOTES:

-Team will begin season with last season’s McKinney chassis- Paul Romine and the CARQUEST team began the 1998 season in early March at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL. The team tested a new ‘98 McKinney car at DeSoto Memorial Dragway and produced a career-best .830 60-foot time. Unfortunately, the new chassis was damaged in a qualification incident and Romine will utilize last season’s McKinney car at the Winter Nationals.

-New crew members - The CARQUEST team welcomes two new crew members to the 1998 racing crew. Jim Schulien from Racine, Wis., has joined the team and will be responsible for maintaining the clutch and driving the team transporter. John Bullard, a native of Marion, Ind., has joined the CARQUEST team after a successful stint as crew chief for Etterman Racing, where he won two NHRA Div. 3 Alcohol Funny Car championships. Bullard, a former Alcohol Funny Car and Dragster driver, will be responsible for the bottom-end of the engine and also driving the team transporter. Returning to the Clayton Harris-led CARQUEST team will be chief mechanic David Moore of Indianapolis, Mark Buchanan of Indianapolis, and Atlanta, Ga. resident Ron Wheelis.

-Quick Facts- Romine career bests: 4.702 (Indianapolis), 303.54 (Bristol) Firsts: 300mph (Indianapolis), IHRA 4.8 (Darlington 3/97), IHRA 4.7 (Bristol 9/97) ‘97 IHRA Winning Percentage: 84% (16-3) IHRA national ET record : 4.784 (Norwalk, 9/97) Career wins: ‘97 Winter Ntls, ‘97 Autumn Chase Ntls, ‘97 World Ntls, ‘97 Snap-on Finals

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Drag
Drivers Paul Romine , Doug Herbert , Bruce Litton , Steve Smith