MARTINO SEEKS A REVERSAL OF FORTUNE IN MEMPHIS CENTURY 21 (Racing Team has high hopes for the 12th Annual Auto Zone Nationals) Parsippany, New Jersey, October 6, 1999 - It would be safe to say that Memphis Motorsports Park is not among Tom ...
MARTINO SEEKS A REVERSAL OF FORTUNE IN MEMPHIS CENTURY 21 (Racing Team has high hopes for the 12th Annual Auto Zone Nationals)
Parsippany, New Jersey, October 6, 1999 - It would be safe to say that Memphis Motorsports Park is not among Tom Martino's favorite stops on the NHRA Winston Drag Racing circuit. In three previous attempts at the Tennessee quarter-mile, Martino's best qualifying effort has been seventh, and he is still looking for his first elimination round win. Even so, Martino and his CENTURY 21( Pro Stock Firebird Racing team are eagerly looking forward to this weekend's contest, and a chance to rewrite their personal history at this facility.
"We haven't been as good at Memphis in the past as we've been at other tracks," stated Martino. "I would have to say that we've only run fair there. For example, one year we were off in the night session, and came back to make a good run in the daytime. The only problem was that it was well over 100 degrees in the shade. Another year, we broke a motor. I guess it's a combination of bad luck and not having quite figured it out. But this CENTURY 21( team believes this year will be different."
This outbreak of optimism is based on several important developments both in the Martino camp and at the racetrack. First, this event marks the third race for the team with their current chassis. Since its debut in Reading, this new Martino ride has produced consistent and competitive results. With each run down the track valuable information is gathered, furthering the crew's familiarization with the intricate adjustments necessary to fine-tune the car to the conditions.
This knowledge will be critical to running well at Memphis Motorsports Park, for changes at this facility since last year will require a different set-up. With the concrete starting pad extended by 200 feet, the clutch will have to be tuned to effectively transfer the over 1,200 horsepower generated by the "doorslammer's" 500 cubic-inch, carbureted engine to the ground without excessive wheel spin or teeth-chattering tire shake. The suspension must also be adjusted to handle the power on take-off, including preventing the nose from lifting too high. Both elements must also manage the transition from concrete to asphalt and any other bumps that might otherwise upset the car. With a completely new surface from one end to the other, the teams that best adapt to these new characteristics will come out on top.
"The way we see it, we'll have a clean slate in Memphis," explained Martino. "The racing surface is completely new, and we're bringing a new car and motor. Hopefully, that will change our luck for the better, with combinations that worked in the past for other teams being less effective, and the track coming to us.
"The bottom line remains the same. Qualify safely on Friday, work on a race day tune-up on Saturday, and go rounds on Sunday. Our goal is to keep making progress with this new CENTURY 21( Firebird, making solid runs each time out. If we do that, success will follow."
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MARTINO MOMENTS: As part of the CENTURY 21( "Drive It Home" Sweepstakes Tour, fans attending this weekend's race at Memphis Motorsports Park will be able to stop by the CENTURY 21( display on the manufacturers' midway and register to win a two-year lease on a new Pontiac Firebird, which will be given away on Sunday. Fans can also make a donation to the Easter Seals Foundation....This will be Tom's fourth Pro Stock appearance at the Tennessee track, where he looks to improve on his seventh qualifying position from 1997.
WHAT: 12th Annual Auto Zone Nationals, the nineteenth event of the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.
WHEN: October 7 - 10, 1999
WHERE: Memphis Motorsports Park, Memphis, Tennessee
SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start on Friday, October 8 with two sessions at 1:45 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. and conclude with two rounds on Saturday, October 9 at 11:15 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 10.
TV: TNN will air ninety minutes of event highlights from noon - 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 17. (All times are Eastern). As always, please check your local listings.