Parsippany, New Jersey, July 12, 1999 - The NHRA will have its traditional kickoff to the second half of the season at this weekend's Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Teams who have done well in the first eleven races will attempt to continue...
Parsippany, New Jersey, July 12, 1999 - The NHRA will have its traditional kickoff to the second half of the season at this weekend's Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Teams who have done well in the first eleven races will attempt to continue their success, while those who have faltered will seek to improve. Tom Martino and the CENTURY 21 Racing team plan to build upon their semi-final finish in Madison three weeks ago as they strive for their first win at Bandimere Speedway. Martino also acknowledges that a strong showing by the CENTURY 21 Pro Stock Firebird this weekend can have lasting benefits.
"This race is important for reasons beyond that of simply winning the event," explained Martino. "Naturally, we enter every race to win. But as the first stop of the second half, you can make a statement to yourself and your competitors about the rest of the season. This is also the opening event of our month on the West Coast, and doing well here sets the tone for this long road trip. We've been fortunate in the past to run well in Colorado, and the CENTURY 21 Racing team is ready to continue that trend this weekend."
Unlike other events, the primary challenge for the Pro Stock contingent this weekend will not come from their fellow competitors. This scenic Colorado quarter-mile is set on the side of a mountain outside Denver at an altitude of over 5,800 feet. Those racing this weekend will soon forget about Bandimere's picturesque location, however, as they will struggle to find horsepower in the anorexic air. The professional category most affected by these conditions is Pro Stock, whose normally aspirated engines will suffocate from the lack of power-producing oxygen. Unlike their nitromethane-burning brethren in Funny Car and Top Fuel, who can simply alter their set-ups to overpower the conditions, the "doorslammers" must find ways to compensate. Clutch and suspension set-ups become even more crucial as crews look to maximize whatever horsepower is found.
"At other tracks you can use horsepower to overcome slight misjudgments in your set-up," stated Martino. "You don't have that luxury here. We are going to study our notes from previous races and sketch out a preliminary strategy, but won't make any definite changes until we unload and assess the situation. Having a firm grasp on your car's performance characteristics will be vital this weekend."
But while focusing on the present, the Martino crew must also keep one eye on the near future. As stated previously, this is the first of three races on a four week West Coast tour. With events in Colorado, Washington and California, there will be no time for the CENTURY 21 transporter to return to the team's headquarters in New Jersey. Therefore, every contingency had to be thought of and planned for, from spare parts for their Firebird Pro Stocker to new tires on the race trailer. At the same time, Martino and crew chief Tom Kling worked overtime on the team's arsenal of powerplants to ensure each was at its peak and competition ready. Attention was also paid to the racecar, which shall enter its second national event with the team in Denver. Although preliminary results with this new mount have been encouraging, Ma rtino knows that preparation is the key to success in the next four weeks.
"Our primary focus since the Madison event has been preparing our race motors for the West Coast swing," explained Martino. "Our transporter will not be back in New Jersey for over a month, and we wanted to make sure to have as many healthy bullets as possible, so we've had some long days in the dyno room. Our inventory is in the best shape it has been in months, and we're hoping all that hard work will pay off in the next few weeks, starting with this weekend's Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Just like the mountains around Denver, it will be a tough climb, but our CENTURY 21 Firebird is up to it."
MARTINO MOMENTS: Tom Martino will be making a personal appearance as part of the CENTURY 21 "Drive It Home" Mall Tour at the Southwest Plaza at 8501 W. Bowles Avenue in Littleton, Colorado on Thursday, July 15th from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.. For directions, please call (303) 973-5300.... This will be Tom's fourth Pro Stock appearance at Bandimere Speedway...Martino looks to improve upon his two quarterfinal finishes.
WHAT: 21st Annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals the twelfth event of the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.
WHEN: July 15 - 18, 1999
WHERE: Bandimere Speedway, Morrison, Colorado
SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start on Friday, July 16 with two sessions at 3:15 and 7:15 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, July 17 with two rounds at 11:15 and 5:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 18.
TV: ESPN2 will air one hour of final-round coverage from 9:00 - 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 18, two hours of first-round coverage from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 18 and one round of qualifying highlights on Saturday, July 17 from 9:00 - 10:00 p.m. (All times are Eastern). As always, please check your local listings.