DARLINGTON, SC - Mike Castellana wanted to revamp his racing operation at the end of the 1999 season and it was easy to understand why. The veteran Pro Modified racer had failed to qualify at more than half the races and his souvenir sales were...
DARLINGTON, SC - Mike Castellana wanted to revamp his racing operation at the end of the 1999 season and it was easy to understand why. The veteran Pro Modified racer had failed to qualify at more than half the races and his souvenir sales were less than admirable.
He turned to a good friend and sought advice. Castellana asked, "What can I do for a neat gimmick?"
The friend stood for a moment and uttered, "Look at your shirt Mike, it says it all."
Thus was born Mike's Drive In. Castellana's t-shirts had a design depicting his 1957 Chevy sitting at a Fifties-style drive-in restaurant with a waitress on roller skates.
Castellana has decided to transform his pit area into a drag racing version of American Graffiti. He will have a neat neon sign on the top of his trailer signifying that Mike's Drive-In has arrived. He will also have a neat counter that will look as if it is a diner counter and will be complete with a milkshake mixer. The initial purpose is to sell t-shirts from the counter, but look for the program to open up and offer milkshakes. His crew will complete the look, as they will also wear uniforms depicting the nostalgia automobile clubs of the era.
There will also be an entertainment area with a practice tree, where race fans can have the opportunity to "match race" Castellana for souvenirs.
Castellana adds that this new approach will lend a huge amount of showmanship to his program.
"I have always been a fan of the nostalgia style of racing," explains Castellana. "I wasn't having too much fun last year and I knew that I had to do something different or I'd eventually lose interest in running Pro Modified."
To insure that his program is not all showmanship, Castellana has leased an engine from defending Pro Modified World Champion Shannon Jenkins. The program has already yielded impressive results with the classic 1957 Chevy hammering out its quickest and fastest runs to date.
We know the name of his pit area, but what about his car?
""Greased Lightning"," laughs Castellana. "That was the car that beat the '49 Merc in the movie Grease."
Mike's Drive-In will debut at the IHRA Prolong Winter Nationals next week, March 9 -11 in Darlington, SC. The event will be televised on TNN.