The NHRA teams are focused on one of the most grueling stretches of races of their season, the western swing. Teams leave their race shops – most of which are in the Midwest — and head west for Colorado, Washington and California over a three-week stint.
But for the Salinas family, the western swing offers a unique opportunity to step away from the daily rigors of business operations and take to the open road together on their motorcycles. Top Fuel driver Mike Salinas and one of his daughters, Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Jianna Evaristo along with brother and uncle Carl Salinas, departed their home in San Jose, California, early Monday morning to make their way ultimately to the first stop of the western swing – Bandimere Speedway in Colorado.
“This ride was something that we really wanted to do as a way to not focus on the business for a few weeks, but instead focus on our -me together,” said Mike Salinas. “All we have is me and we know our businesses are in good hands while we are enjoying -me on the road. Monica (Salinas) will join us for the ride from Denver to Seattle and then from Seattle to Sonoma so that will be great as well. She had to stay back and handle some things this week but is looking forward to getting out here with us soon.”
The trio made their way to Las Vegas on day one, departing northern California at 4:00 AM in order to attempt to avoid riding in the hottest part of the day while the west coast endures sweltering conditions. After some rest and relaxation, it was off to Utah on day two, where the temperatures exceeded the 100-degree mark for much of the ride, making it mandatory for the group to stop several -times to hydrate. But venturing through the Zion National Park and into Moab, Utah proved to be an unforgettable experience.
“We definitely battled the heat in Utah,” said Jianna Evaristo. “It was hotter than I’ve experienced on a ride before. We’ve historically tried to schedule one big family ride each year and this was a part of the country we hadn’t been able to visit before and with the three races back-to-back, this was a great opportunity to see some beautiful parts of the country together. Of course, with the heat and the crazy time schedules, I’m definitely living on caffeine and sugar so I’ll have to work on my detox after Sonoma!”
As the group made it into Colorado on Wednesday, the focus will shift to this weekend’s events at Bandimere Speedway, which will also mark the last time the series will compete in the historical Mile-High Nationals. Mike will continue his quest for his second Wally of the 2023 season while Jianna will compete in this weekend’s Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge in Pro Stock Motorcycle after making it to the semi-final round in Norwalk, Ohio three weeks ago.
“Bandimere Speedway is a really challenging racetrack for the crew chiefs and the tuners,” said Salinas. “All of the competitive teams bring equipment special to Bandimere because you need it for the elevation and the tuning we do for the weekend. We have different blowers and headers just to name a few, but so much rests on just making the right calls and for me as a driver, do what you can to get down the track clean without blowing anything up.”
“It’s a shame that this is the last time we’ll race here as the Bandimere family has been wonderful to us all over the years, but we’re happy for them to enter the next chapter of their lives and we know they’ll still come see us all at races when they can,” continued Salinas. “All of us at Scrappers Racing would love to bring home a win at our last visit to this great facility.”
Following this weekend’s events in Colorado, the Salinas family will be joined by Mom, Monica, to continue their motorcycle journey and head north to Pacific Raceways outside of Seattle, Washington. As Jasmine Salinas continues to be focused on getting licensed for Top Fuel competition for the 2024 season, she is also competing this weekend in her Top Alcohol car at the regional event in Columbus, Ohio.