San Antonio: Harold Martin preview

A Well-Engineered Off Season has Martin & ACDelco Crew Ready to Open their Pursuit of the 2006 IHRA Championship The eMax Drag Racing Series kicks off its 2006 season this weekend with the running of the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals in San ...

A Well-Engineered Off Season has Martin & ACDelco Crew Ready to Open their Pursuit of the 2006 IHRA Championship

The eMax Drag Racing Series kicks off its 2006 season this weekend with the running of the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals in San Antonio, Texas. Although it has been over five months since the stars of the International Hot Rod Association's (IHRA) Pro Modified division have squared off in national event competition, Harold Martin and his ACDelco Pontiac Racing team have been far from idle.

After spending time at their shop in New Hudson, MI developing and incorporating new technologies into their race program, Martin took to the track, testing to confirm the potential of the new package, as well as developing important tuning information. Finally, a pair of successful outings in another series' events (including a win) fine-tuned the team's competitive skills.

With the entire organization fully prepared for the six-month, eleven-race title chase that lies ahead, Martin heads into the Lone Star State ready to take the first step in claiming this year's Pro Modified championship.

"There truly was no off-season, as we have been going non-stop since October," said Martin. "We went from running our ACDelco Pro Mod Pontiac on the IHRA racetracks to an extensive research and development program at our shop, advancing new technologies, which we tested on various tracks throughout the winter. At the same time, we participated at numerous ACDelco events around the country.

"For example, we made several appearances throughout Texas in advance of this weekend's event. Two were on behalf of the Arnold Oil Company, who has quite a few distributors for ACDelco parts throughout the state. The entire team was on hand as part of the grand opening of their new location in Corpus Christi as well as a visit to their store in Victoria, giving us numerous opportunities to interact with their customers.

"In addition, I had the pleasure of being the keynote speaker at St. Phillip's College here in San Antonio, which has become somewhat of an annual tradition. For the fourth consecutive year, I had the pleasure of speaking with some extremely bright students, some of whom I have seen progress from their freshman through senior years. It's a great feeling to be thought of as their mentor, and to see how they have stayed in school.

"However, our focus will now turn towards this weekend's race. We have laid out both a short- and a long-term plan to accomplish our goal, using a strategic approach, preferring to make incremental goals on a solid foundation instead of deriving something by simply swinging for the fences. We have learned a lot, and now it is a question of getting it out into the racing element, validating it against our desired performance level.

"This weekend will be a great indicator. The challenge we face in the Pro Modified ranks is comparing your performance to those with a set-up similar to yours. Although our ACDelco Pontiac is unique in its use of electronic fuel injection and other technologies, we can see how we stack up against other nitrous cars. Ultimately, we want to be at the top of the class, gaining the measure of all of our competitors, including the supercharged cars, which, as everyone admits, is currently the superior package. We may have our homework cut out for us, but we're definitely up to the task."

Adding to Martin's optimism heading into the IHRA season-opener is his prior success at San Antonio Raceway, site of this weekend's event. After a Friday night qualifying incident threatened to cut their weekend short in 2004, the Martin Motorsports crew worked throughout the night to effect repairs. Their efforts were rewarded when Martin qualified second and defeated an all-star line-up en route to the runner-up finish, propelling the former GM engineer to a career season. This year, he looks to improve his standing from that memorable performance by one position, naturally without the added complications.

"There is a belief that some race cars just do not run fast until they have a few battle scars, which seems to be the case with our ACDelco Pontiac at San Antonio Raceway," opined Martin. "After the major incident in 2004 which saw us contact the wall and then rebound to qualify second and advance all the way to the final, we came back last year to have the car pull out of the groove and hit a timing cone, tearing up the front end, and negating what would have been an awesome pass. This year, we hoping to prove that we can take advantage of the performance potential to go some rounds and hopefully win the race without incurring battle damage."

Finally, fans arriving at the San Antonio quarter-mile will see a new look in the Martin pit area. Although the "EFI Wizard's" revolutionary ACDelco Pontiac Pro Mod remains visually unchanged, the team's massive transporter will carry completely new graphics. In addition, there will be a fresh new look in the team's pit area, emphasizing the professional image of these ultimate Real Car Guys.

"The entire ACDelco crew is excited about our new look, but the true measure is the tremendous response it received from the Texas-based fans during our appearances earlier in the week," stated Martin. "They appreciated it, and were pleased to be able to see it. I think the rest of the fans around the country will give it a similar reception."

Notes on Harold Martin and the ACDelco Pontiac Racing Team entering

the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks and RVs and the San Antonio Express News:

Harold's Record at San Antonio Raceway: This will be Harold's fourth appearance at San Antonio Raceway, where he has one final-round appearance and two starts in the top half of the field.

Top Ten Streak: Harold is looking to extend a streak that has seen him post a Top Ten finish in the IHRA Pro Modified Championship standings for four consecutive years.

-jgk-

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Series Drag
Drivers Harold Martin