Martino(s) Indy Bound with New Pro Stocker
Canada’s only NHRA Pro Stock team will be back in action during the world’s largest annual drag racing event – the Mac Tools NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis this coming weekend….
The team, based from Stoney Creek Ontario, is entering a new phase after shedding its skin somewhat so far during 2011.
After running a RJ Race Cars Pontiac GXP at limited events during 2010 and again earlier this season, the team which is fronted by father and son Tony and Mark Martino, has retooled. During the recent Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Minnesota, they debuted a nearly identical looking, brand new Jerry Haas-built GXP. With that new and completely untried car they were rewarded with their first ever qualifying effort (#16) in NHRA Pro Stock competition. That accomplishment was both a gratifying and rather significant milestone for the aspiring new Canadian Pro team.
“We were a late entry at Brainerd – we went there untested and took our chances,” said driver Mark Martino. “Our first lap ever for the car came in the first qualifying session. We had some great help and got the car to repeat right away – which made us happy.”
“Last year’s car worked well but when NHRA changed some rules in Pro Stock we struggled,” added Mark. “We sold that car (now destined to Australia) and ordered this new Jerry Haas car. I think about 90% of the Pro Stock cars in NHRA are Haas cars – there is a reason for that. It has a bigger tuning window.”
One week later, Mark and his Dad were out at Cayuga Dragway during the Canadian Street Car Nationals event doing some more testing for Indy. They rattled off some very low and consecutive 6.7 secs laps to further fuel some optimism.
“Now that we have a taste of this new car we are appreciating how important that move may have been,” Mark continued. “In NHRA Pro Stock you are looking for the 1000th of a second advantage so everything must be more precise. If you are off by 1/100th that’s really a mile away. We are all about learning the science of this and generating anything incremental we can find.”
Mark revealed that his team is now 100% independent and fully based in Canada. At Indy they will have the same motor program which they have been running to date but he did reveal that a newer motor is in the works being prepared by Bob Ingles. That engine will likely be between the car’s frame rails for the NHRA event at Reading PA later in September.
“If we can run well at Indy and Reading I’d like to try to make one of the Western events – Phoenix or Las Vegas,” Martino added. “Our objective is to qualify and to ramp things up for the 2012 season.”
Canada’s only NHRA Pro Stock team has longer term plans to target 15 NHRA Full Throttle events during 2012 beginning at Gainesville next March.
(Bruce Biegler Photos)