It’s an essential part for the future of big time drag racing and this young Canadian innovator is part of that mix….

While it’s certainly true that it’s fashionable to give aspiring new and up-and-coming drivers a lot of media attention – we would be remiss to not recognize the behind the scenes developing stories back at race car shops and under race car awnings in pit areas.

It’s exactly there where important new and emerging talents are also being bred. More often then not, that is happening under the watchful eye of seasoned veterans who through mentorship are passing on the technology baton crucial to the future for the sport of drag racing.

31-year old Mark Morris, is one such beneficiary. Mark has in relatively short period of time elevated his name within NHRA nitro racing to a pretty reputable level. In conjunction with Paris Ontario-based Paton Racing, Mark is taking full advantage of and is riding on the cusp of that wave.

Mark Morris plays a quiet but calculated role behind the scenes at Paton Racing

“I first met the Paton’s when I was just 15 years old and was just a co-op student in the 10th grade,” Mark revealed. “At that time, I was just cleaning parts and doing general shop stuff. I didn’t know anything at all about drag racing and I had never even seen a Top Fuel car before.”

“But I got my start right then and there (in 2002) and every year since I’ve dove deeper into the intricacy of the sport and the technology for drag racing,” he continued. “I don’t have anything formal with regards to engineering training — everything I have learned has been self taught. I cannot begin to tell you how much I’ve learned from people like Barry Paton, Todd Paton and Bobby and Dom Lagana. Now more recently I’ve been working alongside John Stewart. What has impressed me all along is that with all of these guys there are no secrets. They all go out of there way to explain the tech – all have been mentors to me.”

Mark and John Stewart

Mark has played a very important role within the Paton Racing Top Fuel dragster which is now being driven within NHRA circuit racing by super skilled Shawn Reed, who is a former 3X Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series Champion. Mark has been a very important cog within the rise of Shawn and the Paton Racing team car to the level of being a serious contender as we enter into the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season. And it’s that momentum which has Mark pretty pumped up.

“There is a pretty big difference and attitude now within our team,” Mark gleamed. “I’ve learned an awful lot about the life of components and how to cycle parts at the right time. I know what to check for, watch for and when to schedule service correctly. In Top Fuel racing all of that is so very crucial. Last year we ran a career best 3.81 secs and it seemed that every time we went out we got better and better. Our objective is to run 3.7’s this year – and I know we have the correct car and are right on the cusp of doing just that.”

Mark’s contribution and role within the Paton Racing team, combined with the fact that he is a home grown Canadian, has not gone without very deep appreciation at Paton Racing.

“Here we are some 15 years later, and Mark has gone from parts cleaner to car chief.” confirmed Todd Paton. “He pretty much does it all on our team. We can rely on him to build motors, clutches, superchargers and maintains many other parts. He’s has built some of the chassis on the jig he built at the shop, and he is a master fabricator. On top of it all, he drives the truck, supervises the crew and does most all the set up and tear down at each event. He’s pretty much a one-man show. I don’t think there’s anything on the car that he hasn’t done.”

With Shawn Reed at the controls – the Hughes Oilfield Transportation/Paton Racing Top Fuel dragster — enters the 2018 season as a very enhanced contender within NHRA racing.

“Though he doesn’t say very much, he is an absolute machine,” Todd added. “He’s a great guy, terrific friend, and I am serious when I say that without his efforts — Paton Racing wouldn’t be where it is today without him. Not at all bad for a local rural Ontario boy!”

Mark Morris and the Paton Racing Top Fuel Dragster will kick off their 2018 racing season at the NHRA Amalie Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville FL.

Post and photos by Bruce Biegler