Q&A: Pat Musi
Decades of experience and hard work have helped Pat Musi become one of the go-to engine builders when it comes to nitrous-assisted power plants. Musi Racing Engines can be found in several of the top contending cars in PDRA Pro Nitrous, including the “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro of defending world champion Tommy Franklin and the “King Kong 6” ’15 Dodge Dart driven by Pat’s daughter, Musi Racing Engines president Lizzy Musi.
Musi recently clinched the Flatout Gaskets Nitrous Wars championship, a season-long program recognizing the engine builders who power the low qualifiers at each stop on the PDRA tour. With Franklin qualifying number one three times and Lizzy earning the top spot once, Musi Racing Engines secured the title for the fourth consecutive season.
Shortly after Musi Racing Engines was declared the winner of the prestigious award, DRAG ILLUSTRATED spoke with Musi to discuss the win, his excitement for Pro Nitrous racing, and what’s next for the nitrous-only, eighth-mile class.
You just secured your fourth PDRA Nitrous Wars Engine Builder of the Year award. What does that honor mean to you?
That really means a lot to me, honestly, because I work hard for that. That’s my end of things. I’m responsible for the engines. You’ll fumble a little bit, but we never worry when we get behind. We just work harder. I don’t go for the internet stuff, going back and forth online. See that thing down there? (Points towards the end of the track) That’s the scoreboard. Light that up and turn on the win lights, then I’ll respect you. I’m telling you, this award means a lot to me. I’ve won everything you can win. I’ve won in Pro Stock, Pro Modified – I was the first EFI Pro Modified to win an NHRA race – but this award is right up there.
There are several different classes throughout drag racing that use powerful nitrous-oxide-assisted engines. What is it about PDRA Pro Nitrous that attracts you and leads you to dedicate so much time and effort to the class?
Really, honestly, I come from Pro Stock, and I don’t like mixing power adders, period. Everybody knows that about me. They can call me a whiner or whatever; I just don’t want to run them. I want to run the same kind of cars so that if you beat me, I’ll shake your hand. That’s what attracts me to Pro Nitrous. I think this is what Pro Stock should be, honestly.
What is it about your engine program that has allowed you and your customers to have the success required to win four of these awards?
I ran Pro Stock for years and years – ran good. I have the Pro Stock mentality, but I had to learn in a hurry that these nitrous deals, it’s not all about power. Sometimes you have to sacrifice some power for the durability. You don’t see us pulling the (cylinder) heads off. We’ve finally developed our own engine and heads with Dart. We have Jesel on board with us doing our valve train exclusively. We have a ton of good people. We just work hard. Everybody knows that about me. Hell, I had quadruple bypass surgery (in 2016) and I went to Rockingham hobbling around and Rickie (Smith) crewed the car. I don’t stop. I don’t stop until the black car pulls up.
I’ve had to run a business, but now with Lizzy and all of the people helping us – Lucas Oil, AAP, Edelbrock, and Frank Brandao, who owns the car – we have enough people helping us where we can race and I can focus on the engines and tuning the car. I couldn’t ask for a better driver. I wouldn’t put anybody in that seat but her.
The elapsed times and speeds in Pro Nitrous have advanced significantly over the last couple years. What’s the next major milestone mark in Pro Nitrous?
Well, we’ve been as quick as 3.63. I know it was at a match race, but it was at legal weight. If the air comes to us…I’d say by next year we’ll be in the 3.5s.