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DI 30 Under 30 2023: Sal DiDomenico

At one point, former Jr. Dragster racer Sal DiDomenico thought he would continue pursuing a driving career as a teammate to his father, Mike, who was racing in Outlaw Dragster at the time. But the twists and turns that inevitably happen in racing sent DiDomenico in another direction, and he’s now thriving as the crew chief on his father’s screw-blown Pro Mod ’68 Camaro. 

[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #185, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in Nov/Dec of 2023.]

When Sal was growing up, the elder DiDomenico competed in IHRA Top Dragster for quite some time before focusing on the Outlaw Dragster programs that were popular at the tracks around the father-son’s home base outside Cleveland, Ohio. When those programs were slowing down, the duo realized there were limited opportunities to continue racing in a heads-up format. Mike sold off his dragsters and bought a Pro Mod in 2017, spending the better part of a year to get ready for the 2018 season. 

Sal was always involved with his father’s racing program, doing anything from setting tire pressure and checking the wheelie bars to recording passes and helping with between-round maintenance. After a couple seasons with the Pro Mod, and under the tutelage of Rage Fuel Systems’ Mike Kopchick, Sal started getting into the tuning side. 

“I had interest in [tuning] prior to that, even with the Outlaw Dragster stuff,” starts DiDomenico. “But our electrical guy, Gary Lucas, always did the tuning with that car and he was the crew chief for that. The beginning stages of the Pro Mod stuff was so hard. We struggled with everything. We had every new car bug you could imagine. 

“That took its toll on Gary and eventually he stepped down from crew chiefing,” he continues. “That’s when I inserted myself into that role. I wanted to take over crew chief duties and tuning duties. I was lucky to have Kopchick there on our program at that time. He had taken me in and set me on this road that led me into the path that I eventually ended up taking to where I am now.”

That path has recently also included a side quest into designing and producing connecting rods. Sal runs the family’s CNC shop, CNC Performance Products, where Mike used to produce rods that he ran in the dragsters. Parts shortages in the post-pandemic world, as well as a desire to develop high-performance parts for the motorsports world, led Sal to start producing rods yet again. 

“I’ve learned so much over the years as far as machining aspects,” says DiDomenico, who turned 30 in September. “We bought a brand-new machine, top of the line. I had some design features that I wanted to incorporate into the whole thing. We just finished the first set, and I’m hoping to get them in the motor and test it over the winter.”

The DiDomenicos started out in Pro Mod with a roots-blown combination, which powered Mike to a Pro Boost win at the PDRA World Finals in 2019. The team switched to a screw-blown setup for a run at the 2023 NMCA Xtreme Pro Mod championship. While it fought them at first, the combination quickly proved to be a winner. DiDomenico reached the final round at two of the last three races of the six-race season to finish second in points behind 2016 30 Under 30 honoree Ty Tutterow. 

“We had a strong run at the end of the season,” says DiDomenico, who offered up thanks to his father and Kopchick, as well as wife Brittany and the crew. “It just mitigates all the bad races you have when you start to see progress and you start making a run towards your goal. The end of the season was quite a driving factor to continue to run for that championship next year.”

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The father-son team is doubling down as they get ready for 2024. They recently acquired a 2018 Corvette previously campaigned by 2019 30 Under 30 honoree Justin Jones, and the new-to-them car will be outfitted with DiDomenico’s powerplant and parts. Though they missed the car’s targeted debut at the Snowbird Outlaw Nationals, the team plans to hit the track over the winter to test for their next championship bid. “Look out for us in ’24,” DiDomenico says. “I’m coming for that trophy.”

This story was originally published on February 21, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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