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MARTINO HOPES TO HAVE A CHARMED WEEKEND IN BRAINERD Parsippany, New Jersey, August 18, 1998 - Throughout the twenty-two events on the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series schedule, competitors use every means available to gain the upper hand on ...

MARTINO HOPES TO HAVE A CHARMED WEEKEND IN BRAINERD

Parsippany, New Jersey, August 18, 1998 - Throughout the twenty-two events on the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series schedule, competitors use every means available to gain the upper hand on their opponents. Countless hours are spent in dyno rooms across the country as teams look to squeeze every possible ounce of horsepower from their massive 500 cubic-inch V-8 engines. Timing slips and computer records of each pass are pored over to ensure that any power gained is effectively transferred to the ground and turned into speed. In their search for their first national event victory of the 1998 season, Tom Martino and the Six Flags Theme Parks Racing team have toiled day and night in this manner to enhance their on-track performance. In recent weeks, their efforts have been rewarded with improved qualifying results and elimination round victories. However, their chances for victory at this weekend's Visionaire NorthStar Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway hope to receive an assist from that most elusive of racing icons - a good luck charm. For in attendance will be young Gabriella Ferroni, daughter of BIR public relations director David Ferroni. One common denominator throughout Martino's achievements in his two-year Pro Stock career has been Gabriella's presence at each event, starting with his first Number 1 qualifying performance at this event during his rookie season in 1996. Naturally, Martino hopes this fortunate trend Gabriella has brought to the team continues this weekend.

"My three children are a huge part of my racing, and I couldn't do it without them," explained Martino. "Whenever they accompany us to the track, I make sure to have them "give" me good luck before each run. My oldest son, Thomas Jr. (better known as Bubba) will be here this weekend, and is already very tuned in to what it takes to make the car run better. In addition, our sponsor, Six Flags Theme Parks is naturally a favorite with kids across the country. So therefore, it's almost natural that a young lady like Gabriella has become our unofficial good luck charm. With the tough competition we expect here this weekend, we're certainly going to need it!"

In the weeks since the Seattle event, the Martino crew has labored long and hard to make some luck of their own. The transporter was able to return to the team's New Jersey headquarters for the first time in over a month. This allowed them to go over their equipment, starting with their Six Flags Thrill Machine. With three races and numerous runs since its last inspection, extra emphasis was placed on thoroughly checking their Pro Stock Firebird for signs of wear and tear, starting with the chassis. At the same time, the team's race engines were totally disassembled, examined, and then rebuilt with fresh parts. The next step was to put each "bullet" on the dynamometer to verify a full restoration of power. Finally, Martino took advantage of the extra week between races by participating in another successful match race against Warren Johnson, which allowed both teams to test set-ups and components. Brainerd International Raceway is a facility that rewards handling, and teams will again be challenged to find the proper balance of power and traction.

"The key to success this weekend will not be who has the most power, but what you do with it" stated Martino. "The team that best puts that power to the track will take home the winner's trophy on Sunday. That suits us fine. We know we have plenty of power under the hood of our Six Flags Thrill Machine. Our goal is to dial in our Firebird to the conditions. >From the first round of qualifying on Friday through the finals on Sunday, we're looking for fast, clean runs, with no tire spin or shake. If we can do that, we might be able to thank our good luck charm by asking her to join us in the winner's circle!"

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Tom Martino