Arnaldo Rodriguez had planned on being at the Drag Illustrated World Doorslammer Nationals, even if he had to purchase a ticket.
As it turned out, he provided one of the most memorable moments of the entire weekend at Orlando Speed World Dragway.
Driving the turbocharged Scion FRS “Venenum,” Rodriguez put together an unbelievable run of 5.678-seconds at a massive 261.17 mph during an exhibition pass in the 6-cylinder import with a 2JC engine from Lazcano Racing Engines. It drew a collective gasp from the huge Saturday crowd in Orlando, bringing a big smile to Rodriguez’s face in the process. They were greeted by a big crowd in their pits, celebrating what ended up being one of the largest thrills of the weekend.
“It’s pretty cool because that’s what we race for,” Rodriguez said. “Like everybody else, I’m a spectator and I love watching the Pro Mods. I enjoy watching the cars and when you pay a ticket, you want a great show. We were glad to help add to it. This has been great. The venue and the cars that are showcased, it’s just awesome.
“I was just going to come to watch and then they asked me to do some runs. I was all for it. It’s very exciting. Seeing all the Pro Stocks and Pro Mods, everyone is really accessible. You can talk to all of them and it’s really awesome as a spectator to have that kind of access. I’ve enjoyed it all.”
By the end of Saturday, Rodriguez and his team, led by tuner Jorge Juarbe, were a star attraction, though putting on a show is nothing new for this team.
They set the import record a year ago with an unreal pass of 5.557 last October in Maryland, and have big plans this year.
Rodriguez showed they are on the right path after their show-stealing performance in Orlando. It started with a 252 mph run on Friday under the lights, with the car taking off like a bullet after it struggled off the starting line.
That run gave the team hope something special was in store on Saturday.
“I had to back out, get on the two step and then left. It was pretty good because (Friday), we had some issues on the starting line,” Rodriguez said. “It didn’t go as fast as we wanted because we had to pull some boost out and it went a little sideways, but we just wanted to get down. We thought if we could get off the line a little quicker we could get 260.”
That happened, as Rodriguez and his team delivered something special.
The car was all over the left lane to start the run, but Rodriguez kept in it, found the groove and again delivered an incredible top-end run to set the mark. It left the crowd in shock, dropping jaws and stunning a good portion of fans.
Many couldn’t believe what they had just experienced, but that’s the reaction Rodriguez and his team aim for.
“It’s pretty awesome. We’re the quickest and fastest import and it was a chance to show people what we’re capable of,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a totally different combination, but it worked well and that feels pretty good. It’s really great when people appreciate your work.”
It’s even more impressive considering Rodriguez isn’t able to dedicate all of his time to racing. He’s an orthopedic surgeon in Puerto Rico – making him Dr. Arnaldo Rodriguez, M.D., to you – which understandably takes up most of his day. The trip to the World Doorslammer Nationals was only his third time racing in Orlando, but the team has a strong base and plenty of accomplishments under its belt.
After going 261.17 in Orlando, Rodriguez would like to see some big numbers out of the car this year, sticking close to his motto of “go for broke or go home.”
“We’re capable of running 5.50s again and our goal is to try do to 5.49. You need the right conditions and for all the planets to align, so we’ll see.
“It will either go faster or it won’t go.”
In Orlando, it definitely went fast.
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