MARTINO WORKS OVERTIME TO PREPARE FOR ATLANTA PARSIPPANY, New Jersey, April 13, 1998 - The running of the Fram Nationals at Atlanta Dragway marks the beginning of a grueling three-week stretch in which the NHRA's best are scheduled to compete on...
MARTINO WORKS OVERTIME TO PREPARE FOR ATLANTA
PARSIPPANY, New Jersey, April 13, 1998 - The running of the Fram Nationals at Atlanta Dragway marks the beginning of a grueling three-week stretch in which the NHRA's best are scheduled to compete on consecutive weekends. As a result, preparations made prior to this event could prove crucial to a team's success at all three races. For Tom Martino and the Six Flags Theme Parks Racing team, this assignment was compounded by a crowded schedule and two powerplants in need of attention.
Following completion of the Winston Invitational in Rockingham, Martino and crew headed to Darlington, South Carolina, where the Six Flags Thrill Machine participated in a one-day test with fellow General Motors quarter-milers. From there, race car and driver temporarily parted company. As the Pro Stock Firebird headed north to the team headquarters in New Jersey, Martino flew south to the Six Flags over Georgia park outside Atlanta, where he hosted the second stop of the "Six Flags Thrill of Racing" tour. Held over two days, over 600 children participated and drove miniature Thrill Machines in drag racing contests for a variety of prizes.
"It was awesome," exclaimed Martino. "We had perfect weather, and the kids were really into it. I signed autographs for two hours after the racing was completed!"
Arriving home the next morning, Martino split his time between his job at Jesel Valve Train Innovation and attending to the rebuilding of his race motors. With assistance from crew chief Tom Kling, the massive 500 cubic-inch V-8s were totally disassembled, with every component carefully checked for signs of wear. Once their analysis was complete, the motors were painstakingly put back together. New parts were installed as needed, and changes dictated by the first few races incorporated. After taking a moment to celebrate Easter with his family, Martino put the rebuilt engines on the dynamometer to verify that maximum power had been restored. Finally, as the first step in the pre-race preparation, they were loaded onto the team trailer for the trip to Atlanta.
But the team's work was far from over. Faced with the prospect of three races in three weeks, the transporter, which serves as the team's at-track headquarters, was given a meticulous review of its own. Supplies were restocked and reorganized, and the entire rig cleaned from nose-to tail. In addition, consideration had to be given to the hectic schedule ahead. Every contingency must be considered and planned for, as the limited time between events will prevent any work on the Six Flags Pro Stocker other than the normal pre-race servicing. Their job must be thorough, for once on the road, the team's focus must be on meeting the challenge of fellow competitors and demanding racetracks, starting with the Atlanta Dragway.
"We've had a few long, but productive days," stated Martino. "The true test will come once we get to the racetrack. Our Six Flags Thrill Machine should be better after our test session in Darlington, and we have two fresh bullets ready to load in the engine compartment. Our goals for the Fram Nationals are simple - make good, consistent runs, qualify well, and put ourselves in a position to win on Sunday. This Six Flags team feels confident of being able to do just that!"