Rockingham I: Harold Martin preview

Martin Works to Chisel a Win from "The Rock" Rockingham Dragway, site of this weekend's Nicko's New York Style Handmade Pizza Spring Nationals, is one of the legendary tracks in the world of drag racing. Throughout its long and storied ...

Martin Works to Chisel a Win from "The Rock"

Rockingham Dragway, site of this weekend's Nicko's New York Style Handmade Pizza Spring Nationals, is one of the legendary tracks in the world of drag racing. Throughout its long and storied history, it has hosted some of the sport's biggest events and witnessed a few of its landmark performances, making it one of the stops on the eMax Drag Racing circuit that every driver wants to add to his or her winning resume.

"Rockingham has been such a great racing community that you have to think of it in regards to all motorsports, and not just drag racing," said Martin. "In some ways, it's similar to Indianapolis in that all racers look forward to going there, and are inspired to do well because of its tremendous history and all the people who follow it. It's somewhere the ACDelco Pro Mod Racing team would be thrilled to win."

Harold Martin and the ACDelco Pontiac Racing team's relationship with the North Carolina quarter-mile has seen both ends of the competitive spectrum. Rebounding after experiencing a potentially devastating fire in the 2002 Spring Nationals, the "EFI Wizard" has come back with two starts in the top half of the field, and an impressive final round appearance at the 2003 World Finals. This year, Martin looks to continue this positive trend and add his name to the distinguished list of winners at "The Rock".

"The Rock can truly make you or break you, and we have certainly seen some very low times there," stated Martin. "A few years back we had concurrent failures in the ignition system and transmission which hurt the engine and produced a huge backfire that was very devastating.

"It really set us back, but as a tremendous example of how tough our ACDelco team is, we have since found Rockingham to be a place that yields great performances. There could be nothing greater this weekend than to continue the path of the positives we've been able to achieve there and reach the winner's circle."

For Martin and his crew of hard-working Real Car Guys to be successful in their quest for victory, they will have to overcome several obstacles. First, they will need to find the proper combination to make the most of the uncertain spring weather conditions forecast for this weekend. In addition, they must properly adjust their 2,400-horsepower hot rod for the tricky Rockingham Dragway racing surface. Finally, as one of the top nitrous-powered cars, they will have to overcome the performance advantage currently enjoyed by their supercharged counterparts. Despite these daunting prospects, the team is ready for the challenge, and cautiously optimistic about their chances.

"The racing surface at Rockingham Dragway can be tremendous," said Martin. "However, the pollen in the air can cause it to be quite tricky, so we approach it cautiously. We've had set-ups that are good enough to win in that race atmosphere. Then again this weekend we'll have to drive by what Mother Nature delivers to us, and it seems the weather will be somewhat uncertain.

"It could be warmer and more humid, and there is even a 30 per cent chance of rain, all of which will change the set-up and potentially narrow the opportunities to do what we want to. We will have to talk everything through as a team and strategize to make the most of what we are given.

"The bigger challenge is that we will be approaching the weekend somewhat behind the eight ball from the fact that the blown cars have a performance advantage. As a nitrous team, we know we have to bring our A plus plus game on every run down the racetrack. That makes for a very difficult racing environment, because a year or two ago, you could strategize from the middle of the pack, bumping yourself higher or even taking a shot at the pole, without putting the engines completely on the line. In the current conditions, we find ourselves having to continually search for higher levels of performance that we have yet to find. Essentially, it puts us in a David against Goliath situation.

"We believe the current atmosphere merits a closer look by the sanctioning body if they would like to restore parity to this most exciting class. However, we are not about to give up. In fact, this just makes our ACDelco Pro Mod team more determined. We have exercised extensive hours over the past six months trying to find that next level. We're excited by the potential of our work, but it's not quite at the stage where we want to use it in competition. For now, we will do the very best with what we have, and do everything we can to put ourselves in the winner's circle."

-jgk-

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Series Drag
Drivers Harold Martin