Parsippany, New Jersey, April 19, 1999 - In the days of the Old West, a cowboy's horse was much more than a simple source of transportation. It was a loyal companion and co-worker, a vital component to everyday life. But in order to obtain...
Parsippany, New Jersey, April 19, 1999 - In the days of the Old West, a cowboy's horse was much more than a simple source of transportation. It was a loyal companion and co-worker, a vital component to everyday life. But in order to obtain this elevated status, the wild stallion would have to undergo an often-lengthy training period to tailor his behavior to suit his master's needs.
Looking back on this young NHRA season, one can see a similar progression with CENTURY 21 pilot Tom Martino and his Pro Stock Firebird. In the first two events, the brand-new racecar was a veritable bucking bronco, refusing all attempts by Martino and crew to control its actions on the racetrack. But as time passed and Martino was able to spend more time working with the car, he learned its performance characteristics and how to best use them. Subsequent national events saw a marked improvement in their on-track performance. Now, as Martino and his "gang" ride into Dallas for this weekend's Castrol Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, they hope their mount is fully broken and ready to ride herd on the field.
"It's taken us a little time to figure out what our CENTURY 21 Firebird needs to fly," explained Martino. "But our performance of late has shown that we're on the right track, and we're pretty excited about our chances this weekend in Dallas. I know that I wouldn't want to face us on Sunday."
The location and timing of this event will add to the already formidable challenge facing the CENTURY 21 crew. The Texas Motorplex is the only facility on the NHRA circuit to feature an all-concrete racing surface. The racers describe the track as having tremendous "teeth", or speed-producing traction capable of turning the 1,200 plus horsepower generated by the normally aspirated "doorslammers" into record-breaking runs. But to achieve this potential, teams must use more than brute power. A additional premium will be placed on handling as the cement strip features an extremely narrow "groove", which is the area on the track where sufficient rubber has been deposited to maximize the performance of the massive racing slicks as they transfer the power to the ground. If you miss this prized sector, your chances for victory will be foiled by hard-to-control wheel spin or teeth-chattering tire shake.
Another factor teams will have to consider is that the Dallas race is the first of two consecutive weekends of competition. This adds even more importance to having the proper Motorplex set-up, as those who hurt parts chasing performance will have little time to effect repairs before the following week's race in Richmond, Virginia. With more than forty rivals ready to pounce on any perceived sign of weakness, pre-race preparation will be crucial to a competitor's success over the next fortnight. Tom Martino and the CENTURY 21 team are well aware of this, and have spent the time since the last race planning for every contingency.
"We're entering a tough part of our schedule, with a lot of races in a short period of time, which is fine by us" stated Martino. "We see it as an opportunity to quickly make up some ground. But we're not going to look past this weekend at the Motorplex. It's a tough track, and you have to have the whole package to do well. We know we have the power, the driver's more than capable, and our CENTURY 21 Firebird is coming around. We're looking to put them all together and get a big win in the Big D."
MARTINO MOMENTS: This will be Tom's sixth Pro Stock appearance at the Texas Motorplex .....If conditions are right, Tom and the rest of the Pro Stock contingent will look to join the Speed-Pro 200 mile-per-hour club, which has been frozen at four members since last year....Tom looks to improve upon his quarter-final finish from this event, which he has accomplished twice.
WHAT: 3rd annual Castrol Nationals, the fifth event on the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.
WHEN: April 22-25, 1999
WHERE: Texas Motorplex, Ennis, Texas
SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start on Friday, April 23 with two sessions at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, April 24 with two rounds at 12 noon and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 25.
TV: Fox Sports will provide two hours of final eliminations highlights on Sunday, April 25 from 6-8 p.m. (Local time) In addition, Speedvision will have one hour of qualifying highlights on Saturday, April 24 from 8-9 p.m., ninety minutes of coverage of the first round of eliminations from 2:30 - 4:00 p.m. and two hours of final round coverage on Monday, April 26 from 9-11 p.m. (All times Eastern) As always, please check your local listings.