Parsippany, New Jersey, August 30, 1998 - One of the greatest benefits a team can derive from winning an NHRA national event is the overall boost to the organization's morale. No matter how successful their efforts may have been to that point, ...
Parsippany, New Jersey, August 30, 1998 - One of the greatest benefits a team can derive from winning an NHRA national event is the overall boost to the organization's morale. No matter how successful their efforts may have been to that point, bringing home the title simply improves the overall outlook. Not only does it act as a reward for hard work, but as a motivator for future success. The mindset is quite simple: if we can win one, then certainly a second or a third victory is not out of the question. Such is the case with Tom Martino and the Six Flags Theme Parks Racing team. Coming off their first win of the season in Brainerd less than two weeks ago, the Martino crew bring their Thrill Machine Pro Stock Fire bird to Indianapolis Raceway Park focused on "doubling up" and capturing the most prestigious race on the Winston Drag Racing schedule - the U.S. Nationals.
"There are national events, and then there's the U.S. Nationals," explained Martino. "Naturally, you're thrilled to win any of them, as we did in Brainerd. But the feeling of putting your car in the winner's circle in Indianapolis on Labor Day is second to none in our sport, and that's our plan for the Six Flags Firebird!"
But as Martino knows, momentum alone will not gain the victory. The U.S. Nationals draws entries from all parts, with nearly fifty "doorslammers" expected this year. Brainerd is now ancient history, and the Six Flags crew quickly turned their attention to preparing for "The Big Go". Less than twenty-four hours after edging Mark Osborne in Minnesota, Tom Martino was back in the dynamometer room working on his race motors. But power will not be the only concern, as setting the car up for the notoriously tricky IRP surface will challenge even the most experienced crew chiefs, especially under the unique qualifying procedure for this event. Although an additional session is added for a total of five, the true test comes almost immediately. The very first time trial is held on Friday night, so teams will set-up their mounts based on their previous experience and ability to read the track. Although four attempts will follow, a fast run in this first round is considered crucial to making the sixteen-car field, as conditions might never be better throughout the weekend. A bonus to performing well on Friday is that the remaining rounds can be used to dial-in the racecar for Monday's final eliminations. Fortunately, Martino is well versed in competing in Indianapolis, having participated in the NHRA's biggest race throughout his career in Competition Eliminator, reaching the final round twice in 1991 and 1993. In this, his third attempt as a professional, Tom Martino is committed to completing the cycle and capture what would be his biggest win to date. However, there are additional factors to be considered and the Six Flags pilot is careful not to lose sight of the overall picture.
"Every team out here wants "U.S. Nationals champion" on their resume, including us" stated Martino. "But, we also want to make sure and maintain the forward momentum we've established over the last few races. We'll take this weekend one step at a time, just as we would at any race. That philosophy has served us well of late, and we're cautiously optimistic of continuing that trend. We've done fairly well here in the past, but now we'd like to take our Six Flags Thrill Machine all the way to the top, because a win in Indy would be awesome!"