A delayed flight caused Dean Marinis to miss the first qualifying session under the lights on Friday at Maryland International Raceway.
He made up for it by making history a night later.
Marinis delivered the first-ever nitrous Pro Mod run in the 5.50s, recording the quickest nitrous pass in history in the process with a monstrous blast of 5.572-seconds at 255.19 mph in the Harry Pappas-owned, Pat Musi Racing Engine-powered Camaro.
Marinis actually lost on a razor-thin holeshot during the race, but the record-breaking run took precedent as the veteran pieced together one of the most incredible runs in Pro Mod history.
“All the planets were aligning and I knew that was my chance right there,” Marinis said. “I went as shallow as I possibly could. I screwed up on the light, but I’ll take the result – the first to the 50s. That’s on another level.
“I knew we were going to go fast, but I couldn’t see what we ran. If you’re running 1/8-mile, you can see the scoreboard, but the guys came over the radio and said, ’57.’ I said, ‘What?’ and he had to tell me ‘57’ two or three times. I was in shock for a minute there.”
It was reality and Marinis carved out an impressive place in history along the way.
He had put together a strong run leading into the event, building into what he believed could be something big. A run in the 5.50s wasn’t expected, but Marinis liked where his program was at leading into the Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod race in Maryland.
He won the NEOPM race at Atco Raceway in the Jerry Bickel Race Cars Camaro in mid-August, making a series of runs in the 5.70s in warmer temperatures.
Marinis saw the potential there and followed it up by going 5.69 at 250 in the final round at Capitol Raceway last month. That put him close to Fredy Scriba’s record of 5.676, which took place earlier this spring at Maryland.
Marinis’ 5.69 with his 959 cubic-inch engine from Musi Racing Engines came in nearly 2,000 feet of air as well, leaving him anxious to see what could happen in ideal conditions.
“At the beginning of August, we were working on some new stuff and we saw some potential right away,” Marinis said. “This week watching the weather, I knew it was going to be fast.”
Outside forces almost prevented it from happening. His flight was delayed, and Marinis pulled into the track just as he saw a 5.65 pop up on the scoreboard on Friday. He couldn’t make the run that night, but Marinis didn’t waste any time getting down to business the next day.
He went 5.73 and 5.677 during qualifying in great conditions, and loaded up for a low 5.60s run in the first round of eliminations.
“I thought the track and the weather were coming in, and I crossed my fingers and took a shot at it,” Marinis said. “I threw everything at it.”
The results showed. Marinis had a stunning .930 60-foot, went 2.455 to the 330 and 3.662 at 205.07 to the eighth-mile, a mind-blowing number considering the quarter-mile setup.
That meant a remarkable 1.910 out the back, too, a number that even blew Marinis away. The only number he didn’t like was the reaction time in a first-round loss, but Marinis will always have history.
“It was pretty cool,” Marinis said. “When the conditions are there, you have to be ready to strike. You have to put everything together. All these guys and the great companies I work with, I couldn’t have done it without them.
“My crew has done a great job and it’s always more fun when you can win or set records. We saw improvements across the board, and it’s a lot more gratifying to doing this with a nitrous combo.”
Marinis thanked a group that includes Bickel, Musi, Neal Chance Race Converters, EFI Technologies, Precision Racing Suspension, Speedtech Nitrous and Proformance Transmission, as well as a team that includes car owner Pappas, Danny Hocevar and Steven Auglis.
As for those who may question the validity of the run, Marinis isn’t concerned.
“All of the numbers fall into place,” Marinis said. “The best part of the whole deal, we were two pairs behind (Top Fuel drivers) Clay Millican and Dom Lagana. If anyone has any questions, they could just ask them. I don’t know if there’s a better authority on numbers than those guys.”
Marinis will make sure to enjoy his name in the history books as the first nitrous racer in the 5.50s, but he won’t wait long to try and top the record-breaking run.
He finishes the NEOPM schedule in two weeks at Atco, and if conditions present themselves, Marinis will look to pounce.
That’s the nature of the beast, but with a historic mark now to his name, Marinis is always happy to oblige.
“We’re never done. The day we’re done trying to advance this thing, it’s time to hang up everything,” Marinis said. “If the weather and conditions are there (at Atco), we’ll try to improve on it.”