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If Pat Musi Racing Engines wasn’t a household name among racers before 2014, it certainly is now. Although Musi has been a successful businessman and racer for decades, racking up a slew of awards and championships, 2014 may have been the greatest standout year of his career. Pat Musi Racing Engines won championships in nearly every major professional Pro Mod organization. Jason Harris had a dominating year in the new Professional Drag Racers Association, storming Pro Nitrous and securing his first Pro Mod Championship. Tommy Franklin finished second to Harris in PN points with the PDRA, but was not to be outdone with the Extreme Outlaw Pro Mods, winning four events in 2014 en route to being crowned EOPM Champ. Finally, Rickie Smith went back-to-back, coming out on top for the second year in a row as NHRA Pro Mod Champion.
Pat Musi’s rise to dominance as the elite Pro Mod engine builder hasn’t been an overnight success. He admits that had he not stepped out of the driver’s seat his company may have never reached this level. He first opened his speed shop in 1970 in New Jersey. His engines were put to the test in his own streetcars where he accumulated eight Pro Street championships
“I was racing a lot my whole career so it was tough to concentrate on business. I came [to North Carolina] and decided to take a whole different approach and focus just on the business,” Musi remembered. His shop has now been based out of Mooresville, NC for two years, a move that has been good for business. Musi also credits his decision to hang up his helmet and focus solely on his customers as a major component in the recent years’ successes.
“We’ve really concentrated hard on getting the business up and going and getting the engine program to where it is today. I think it’s paid off. I guess last year was probably our best season ever. I’ve had way better seasons in my career personally, winning races, but we’ve never had a career where we’ve dominated Pro Mod in almost every organization out there.
“Sheikh Abdul from Bahrain had this building here in a three year lease,” Musi continued, relating how his move to North Carolina came to be. “They wanted to get out of it because after two years it was tough for him to manage it. We happened to be talking one day. He knew we’d been wanting to move to North Carolina for a long time. He wanted us to take over the lease, but we wanted to work out a long term deal. I needed something solid to be able to make a move like that. So we worked out a long term lease, reorganized and moved everything and here we are.
“I should have done it ten years ago. The job pool here is better to pick from. There are so many places to get parts built. We do everything in house now except for crankshafts and the hard parts. The manifolds are built here and all the work is done here. The assembly is done here, all the fabrication. We’re one of the few that don’t outsource nitrous.”
While most of the work is done in house at Musi Engines, he is also quick to credit those with whom he’s collaborated over the years. “Danny Jesel with our valve trains- we work closely together. Richard Maskins now at Dart builds our cylinder head program. Edelbrock and the whole deal with our fuel injection program deserves mention. It’s come a long way. Guys are having to put it on now. They’ve realized it. It’s been key having people like this involved throughout the years.”
Although Musi himself has focused solely on his engine program, his name is being carried on in competition through his daughters. Lizzy Musi earned PDRA Rookie of the Year honors this season for her remarkable performance in Pro Nitrous. A successful driver in her own right, Lizzy is also President of Musi Enterprises and the plan is for her to one day take the reins of running day-to-day business. Younger sister Tricia will be stepping into the spotlight this season as well, getting her feet wet in Top Sportsman.
“I’m content because I can focus on the customers,” Musi said of no longer driving himself. “Tricia will start out this year and I’m sure she’ll do well. Lizzy has done a great job, to place third in just her rookie year and earn Rookie of the Year. Even though she’s my daughter, I can say she earned it. We’ve got good drivers and that’s a lot of the success of our engine shop. If you don’t have good drivers, you can give them an engine, but if the team is incapable of winning it can be very frustrating. We’ve really got a good group of guys running our stuff. I think at one time we had 6 out of the top 8 qualifiers in PDRA.
“The other advantage I think we had is that I ran fuel injection from ‘96 in the streetcar days. So I had a leg up on fuel injection. They all kinda laughed at us, but now nearly every team out there has put fuel injection on. Fuel injection made a hard move last year. I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging about it, but I think a lot of it was because of us and what we’re doing in Pro Mod. There aren’t many carburetors left. They’ve had to make the switch. But I think what we and Edelbrock want to see is getting it into the sportsman ranks. Those guys are a little leary of it, but now they’re seeing there are no problems or issues if you get the correct deal. I expect to see it more and more now in the sportsman ranks.
“We kinda forced [the Pro Mods] into fuel injection. But I just sit back and let my cars do the talking and not my mouth. That said, I think they did the talking this year.”
The cars running Musi power certainly did do a lot of talking in 2014 and one can be sure they aren’t going silent anytime soon. “I’ve been quiet over the winter. My engine competitors have been out there advertising engines and doing what they do, but all I’ve got to say is we’ve been working all winter. We’re still working today. We’ll be working on the weekends. I hope they did their homework, because if they think we’re going to start where we left off, they’re mistaken. We’re not letting up. I learned that from my NHRA days. You can’t let up. When you have an edge, you lose it. It’s real hard to keep. So we’re constantly working on it.
“You have to offer a good product. We can sell someone an engine that with the right combination will go 3.70s. Some guys work their whole career and can’t go 3.70s. So we’re pretty proud of that. We can give our customers the best product possible. Everybody gets the same engine. Some people may think that Lizzy or other customers get something better than everybody else, but we give everybody the same opportunities and they have to work on the rest of their combination.”
As Musi Engine competitors fight to defend their championships in 2015, Musi continues to look at what it will take to not only set the competition bar, but what needs to happen for the industry as a whole to thrive. He believes that organizations like the PDRA are on the right track.
“Sometimes you wonder about [the future of racing] because you hear of some of these big teams quitting, but the doorslammer deal is a big deal,” he stated. “What I like about the class is that average guys can compete against the guys that maybe have a little more budget. I think this doorslammer deal is strong. We get accused of being a high dollar team, but we’re not. We have a couple of sponsors that help us and we’re careful not to take money out of the business. But if you do it right you can compete.
“We need to focus and not get caught up in the drama of what other organizations do. I really think the PDRA, for their first year, did a killer job. Everybody got paid when they left unlike other deals that happened. They’ve done everything right so far.
“I would like to see some rivalries started,” Musi stressed. “[Other organizations] kinda miss the boat on that with this politically correct stuff, but we’re drag racing. We’re not being political. I was told that a long time ago by probably one of the best promoters – that was Vinny Napp that owned Englishtown. He died about ten years ago; we were really pretty good friends. He told me he’d hire me to come match race strictly because of my attitude and antics on the starting line and what goes on behind the scene. You need rivalries. Fans want to see that. They don’t just want two cars to pull up there, burnout, stage and go down the track. They want to hear smack talk and all that. Unfortunately some of the drivers take it to heart a little too much. We’re drag racing – we’re not going to basket weaving. I think rivalries are a really good tool to use. I know they’re my daughters and I’ll probably catch heat for this, but Lizzy and Tricia are girls, they’re young, they have a following. Use that as a rivalry. These guys are flipping out when they get beat by a girl.”
Musi’s advice is not untested. The early years of drag racing saw great rivalries that exist to this day. Bringing back that element may have just the effect Musi and other business owners are hoping for in the industry. The best rivalries always stem from the highest competition and there’s no doubt that if a rivalry is to be found in professional eighth mile competition, Musi Engines will be right in the thick of it.
Sonny’s Racing Engines and renowned engine builder Sonny Leonard have announced that Sonny’s will return as a major IHRA contingency sponsor in 2015 and will build upon its involvement with the IHRA’s Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series with a number of bonus programs for IHRA doorslammer competitors.
Sonny’s Racing Engines will post contingency winnings for racers in Crower Pro Mod and US Bounty Hunters Pro Stock with IHRA’s Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series, as well as with Good Vibrations Top Sportsman and Good Vibrations Top Dragster sportsman competitors. The sportsman postings will be good for both Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series national events and Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL divisional events.IHRA Pro Stock and Pro Mod competitors will receive a bonus at IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series national events if they are low qualifier for the race
In addition to providing contingency winnings to competitors who run Sonny’s Racing Engines products, Sonny’s Racing Engines will also sponsor a Pro Mod and Pro Stock low qualifier bonus program. Pro Mod competitors who run a “Sonny’s Pro Mod #1 Qualifier Challenge” decal and qualify first will receive a $700 bonus if they run a Sonny’s engine and $200 if they do not. Pro Stock top qualifiers who run a Sonny’s engine will receive a $200 bonus.
In addition, Sonny’s Racing Engines will pay a $1,000 bonus to Pro Mod and Pro Stock champions and $500 to Pro Mod and Pro Stock championship runner-ups who run a Sonny’s engine.
A complete listing of all of the 2015 IHRA contingency sponsors will be released in the coming weeks. Check back with www.ihra.com for updates.
“I want to give five thousand dollars away. I can’t wait to hand the cash to a PDRA driver.”
So says Pro Nitrous team owner Bryant Marriner as the PDRA prepares for its sophomore season of eighth-mile competition. In an effort to see history made in the Pro Nitrous class, Marriner is prepared to hand over five thousand dollars in cash to the racer who breaks into the 3.60s in 2015.
Marriner, owner of Morrisville, North Carolina-based Bryant Industrial Crane & Rigging, wants to see the barrier broken, and he’s ready to get behind the effort by offering a major incentive in the form of cold, hard cash.
“I’m putting up a five thousand dollar cash bonus to the first driver in Pro Nitrous that gets into the 3.60s during qualifying sessions or elimination rounds this season,” said Marriner. “Test or practice runs don’t count, just qualifying and eliminations. The first driver to run a 3.699 or better gets the cash.”
Presently the PDRA Pro Nitrous elapsed time record is in the possession of Tommy Franklin, who set the mark last October at Virginia Motorsports Park when he recorded a pass of 3.737 seconds. With the constant improvement in equipment and track preparation, Marriner knows the historic performance is just on the horizon, and he intends to help push things along.
“The way things are going, this season somebody is going to turn a 3.69 or better,” he said. “You really got to get after the motor and the car has got to be happy to do it. I figured I’d like to make it worth the while for somebody to get after it that hard. It could cost the person that’s going to try it some serious money to get their car right and ready to take what it’s going to take. I’ll have five thousand dollars in cash ready to hand over to the first driver to do it.”
Marriner, 65, is the owner of Bryant Industrial Crane & Rigging, a large, diversified operation based in Morrisville, North Carolina, that has been in business since 1983.
Although he was on the sidelines for over four decades, Marriner does have a racing background.
“I started racing when I was 17 years old, and I raced locally for a couple of years until I got drafted into the army. When I was in Viet Nam I made up my mind that I was never going to spend another dime on a race car. And I think I did a pretty good job of sticking to that promise for 43 years.”
But like so many others, the siren call of the track, the competition and the camaraderie was just too great, and last year he took a giant leap back into the deep end.
“Once racing gets in your blood you can never, never, ever get it out,” Marriner said. “From before I graduated from high school in 1967 I was going to every race I could, whether it was NASCAR, IHRA or NHRA. And every time they fired the engines up I got chills from my toes to the top of my head. And I still get ‘em today. The thrill, the drive, the excitement is still there, just like it was when I was a teenager.
“I finally decided that I had to get involved again, so this past year I bought Pat Stoken’s ’69 Camaro and went racing, this time with Jay Cox driving,” said Marriner. “We ran the car the second half of the season last year and finished tenth in the Pro Nitrous points. We did okay but didn’t quite have enough for the top dogs. At the end of the season we sold the used motor that we had been running with and had Charlie Buck get to work building us a big new motor, one that will be over 900 cubic inches. Now we’ll be able to run with the big boys!”
Like so many others, Marriner finds the PDRA experience exactly what he was looking for.
“I think the PDRA is great, it’s as simple as that. It’s not going to be like other organizations that fell by the wayside. They’ve got their ducks in a row and their heads screwed on tight. The reason it’s this way is because racers own it, back it and know what it takes to make it worthwhile for the racers that want to come out there and run.
“It’s not a corporate type of a deal where somebody is in it just to make some money,” Marriner added. “These boys are doing it because they want to do it and that makes all the difference. Of course there were a few bumps in the road the first season, but you have to expect that no matter what you do. There’s always a learning curve. But they had enough experience and expertise to make good, logical decisions. It’s really going to grow, and that’s all you can say. It’s going to grow, grow, grow.”
PDRA Race Director Bob Harris is very pleased to have the backing and support of racers and team owners such as Marriner.
“This is an unbelievable deal for the PDRA and the Pro Nitrous racers,” Harris said. “It’s going to take some serious preparation, perfect track conditions and a little bit of luck to break into the 3.60s, and Bryant’s big bonus is going to motivate a lot of people. We can’t thank him enough.”
The second half of the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge Dual Championship is just days away, as the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show quickly approaches. Two teams have already qualified for the Engine Challenge National Championship at the Dual Championship in Las Vegas: coming in first, Team Autometer from Eastern Oklahoma County Tech Center in Oklahoma and second place, Team Moroso from Thomas County Central High School in Georgia. On Dec. 10-12 the remaining 14 teams will compete for the two more finalist spots. The final four teams will then compete on Friday and Saturday of the PRI Show to crown the 2014 Engine Challenge Champion.
John Kilroy, producer of the PRI Trade Show, is happy that the PRI will host the Engine Challenge Championship once again. “Last year, the National Championship for the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge was one of highlights of the Show for me. The competition was a place to go and catch a glimpse of the future of the performance racing industry, and from what I saw, the future looks great!” said Kilroy. “I would encourage everyone attending the PRI Trade Show to stop by and catch some of the competition. You’ll be glad you did.”
Hot Rodders of Tomorrow teams have already been receiving much recognition, including scholarships to top automotive schools. Now, McLeod Racing has upped the ante even more for these ambitious high schoolers. Thanks to the generosity of McLeod Racing the top two teams from each Dual Championship will be awarded a NASCAR Racing Experience at the track of their choosing.
The top overall winning team from the National Championship will take part in a Practice Drive, in which they actually maneuver NASCAR race cars around a track for an eight minute timed racing session. The second top overall team will be awarded the Ride Along Experience – a three lap ride in a NASCAR race car. Those without driver’s licenses will automatically take part in the Ride Along.
The winning teams will be able to pick their track and date from the schedule listed on the NASCAR Racing Experience website.
Paul Lee, owner of McLeod Racing and NHRA Top Fuel Nitro Funny Car pilot, will present the winning teams with their NASCAR Racing Experiences.
IRG Sports + Entertainment™ (IRG) President & CEO, Jason Rittenberry, announced today that the company has launched the International Drag Bike League (IDBL), and has named MIROCK Superbike Series founder Jason Miller as the Promoter of the new series.
For 2015, the IDBL will be comprised of five events with four events at IRG owned Maryland International Raceway and one event at Atco Dragway. There are plans to expand the IDBL to additional tracks in the Northeast for 2016 and return to a seven or eight race schedule.
IDBL Promoter Jason Miller states, “I started the Mickey Thompson Tires MIROCK Superbike Series a little over a decade ago between Maryland International Raceway and Rockingham Dragway and it has always been my biggest passion. I have always done most of the leg work to grow the series into what it is today and I am very fortunate to have the support from our motorcycle racers, families, fans, sponsors, media, and staff. I want everyone to view this transition to the IDBL as an evolution of the MIROCK Superbike Series, and not a dissolution.”
“Two years ago I added Atco Dragway to the MIROCK schedule and the series grew from two tracks to three tracks. The MIROCK events at Maryland International Raceway and Atco Dragway have always thrived with bike counts in the 600-700 range at every event, and we have even seen as many as 800 bikes at an event.”
“I have enjoyed the personal relationship with Steve Earwood at Rockingham Dragway over the last decade, and I am very grateful for the support he has shown me over that time,” Miller continued. “I wish him all the best with his facility, but we are moving onwards and upwards with the motorcycle series. I have never been more excited about the future of our sport than I am right now.”
The IDBL will be the same racing program that the MIROCK racers, fans, and sponsors have come to enjoy. All payouts, entry fees, admission prices, and vendor pricing from the MIROCK structure will remain the same for the IDBL. The IDBL will host the following nine classes: Orient Express Pro Street, DME Racing Real Street, Louis Concrete 4.60 Index, FBR Shop 5.60 Index, Cycle Connection Crazy 8’s, Trac King Clutches Top Sportsman, Fast by Gast Pro E.T., Brock’s Performance Street E.T., and Psychobike.com Grudge. The IDBL will also honor Gold Cards from the 2014 MIROCK Champions.
In the coming weeks IRG will launch the new IDBL website at RaceIDBL.com with all the details along with a new logo and branding for the series. Stay tuned for more information and exciting news in forthcoming press releases during the off season.
We look forward to seeing all of our motorcycle drag racers, fans, families, sponsors, and media at the first IDBL event of the season at Maryland International Raceway on April 24-26, 2015.
2015 IDBL SCHEDULE
Fast by Gast Spring Nationals
April 24-26, 2015
Maryland International Raceway
Fast by Gast Summer Nationals
May 29-31, 2015
Maryland International Raceway
WPGC Bike Fest
July 24-26, 2015
Maryland International Raceway
Orient Express Motorcycle U.S. Nationals
September 11-13, 2015
Fast by Gast Fall Nationals
October 2-4, 2015
Maryland International Raceway
Power Automedia announced today plans to launch Turnology – a new digital magazine for enthusiasts of high performance driving. “If you’re into open track days, time attack, SCCA racing, autocross, or any kind of racing (amateur to professional), and you love the spirit of driving, Turnology is going to be published for you,” explained Power Automedia Vice President, Jason Snyder.
Turnology isn’t specific to any make or model of vehicle – it’s designed for those that appreciate the art of driving and pushing any car to its limits – regardless of cost. “This magazine will be about the art and technology of driving, plus we plan to target semi-professional and novice drivers that engage in frequent open track events, and have developed a lot of driving experience,” said Mark Gearhart, Editorial Director.
Turnology will deliver content enthusiasts crave, including:
● Technical content and how-to tech, with a focus on vehicle set-up, tire testing, and performance upgrades
● Performance driving tips and driver education
● Track information and event coverage
● The latest product information and technology from industry manufacturers
● Driving school reviews
● Car reviews of popular and new vehicles in the performance driving segment
Power Automedia currently publishes ten leading automotive performance magazines that reach over 1.3 million readers a month — each with fresh, unique content delivered daily.
Turnology will launch in Q4 2014 at www.turnology.com