Photography and Video Courtesy of Tiffany Martorella
“This deal started out with a phone call three years ago from a guy I raced with in NMRA,” explained Palm Beach Gardens, Florida’s Jeremy Martorella.
After three Fun Ford Weekend Street Warrior championships and numerous event wins and record-setting performances in other classes, Martorella stepped away from racing for all but the occasional wheelman duties. During the day, he’s the parts and service manger for Palm Beach RV.
The aforementioned phone call was from John Mingolelli, a fellow racer Martorella used to race with many years ago.
“He said he wanted to build a car to go racing,” Martorella explained. “I said that I don’t have much interest in or ability to do anything, but I still drive. I gave him a couple of names, and he called me back and said, ‘I want you to do it. You bring the car wherever you want and you pilot the ship.”
Martorella said the original plan was to campaign a Cobra Jet in the NHRA’s Factory Showdown category. Chassis Pro started construction of a car, MPR Racing Engines put together the powerplant, and Modern Racing completed the build.
During this time, Mingolelli and his trucking company and auto transport business called eCarMover.com, had signed on as a sponsor for NHRA Pro Stock racer Alan Prusiensky and his Dodge Dart.
Around the time the Cobra Jet was completed, Mingolelli decided to move up to NHRA’s Pro Stock class. Through a multi-car trade, Mingolelli parted with the Cobra Jet and came away with Deric Kramer’s 2012 Dodge Dart, a Jerry Haas-built chassis that was originally campaigned by NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin.
“I was very confident with the Cobra Jet—it was right up my alley,” Martorella told us. “Working with Billy Glidden for a few years, I knew it would work,” Martorella said of the new plan.
“John invited me out to the NHRA Virginia race in May to be a fly on the wall and get a view of what was going on. Alan [Prusiensky] and I hit it off. I didn’t work on the car, but listened in and watched. Alan and I kept in contact after the race,” Martorella said of his NHRA introduction. “With the schedule, I couldn’t do the western swing, but once the car came back from Brainerd, we could head to Maple Grove or Atco and get my license.”
Prusiensky brought Martorella out to the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals race in Brainerd, Minnesota, though, and put him to work on the car.
“He had me working on the back end of the car and by the end of the weekend, I had changed the rear gear three times and the engine three times—I went from watcher to full-blown crew member,” Martorella recalled.
After that race, the team went to New Jersey, where Martorella once again performed more gear and engine changes, and learned about the Dart’s clutch and how to maintain it. This past Sunday at Atco Raceway where the team was testing, Martorella would finally get behind the wheel to get licensed.
“It was a car show/test and tune with around 1,200 street cars—nothing you would ever run a Pro Stock car on,” Martorella told us.
As Mingolelli’s car wasn’t quite finished with its updates at Haas, Prusiensky put Martorella in his driver’s seat for the test.
“It almost came to putting phone books in the seat,” Martorella joked. “Alan is 6-foot tall and I’m 5’ 8 and 100 pounds lighter, so it required some work.”
During his time driving and tuning World Wide Racing’s Toyota Solara, a pro-import racecar that went as quick as 6.86 in the quarter-mile thanks to Martorella’s chassis tuning and driving prowess, Martorella became familiar with the speed and elapsed time that a Pro Stock racecar offered. He also spent many years powershifting his stock-bodied Mustang to great success in the Fun Ford Weekend sportsman ranks, but the Liberty transmission-equipped Pro Stock machine required a bit more attention.
“I’ve been on the phone with Billy [Glidden] daily for the past month. He’s been a big influence/mentor to me.” Martorella said Glidden called his burnouts “textbook.”
“I did a good job with that and became intimate with the clutch.” Martorella went on to perform a launch, a 330-foot hit, and a full quarter-mile pass of 6.82 at 203 mph.
“The difference between a 1.2-second 60-ft and a 1.0 is night and day. And you’re shifting four gears in four seconds! After the ¼ mile run, we took the engine out and made sure everything was fresh. I did the licensing in Alan’s personal car—he trusted me to do that, I can’t say enough about him.”
“In doing all of this, the only resources I could lean on were my comrades from the Mustang community, so Bart Tobener is going to be my main crewmember,” Martorella explained. His wife, Tiffany, will be along for the ride documenting the experience through photos and video and he’ll also be receiving some sponsorship assistance from Palm Beach RV, Ultimate Converter Concepts, Chris Little, Sudden Impact Collision, Biostem Technologies, Camco, Tony Alm, Alex Mendez, and Ozzy Moya.
The Great One, hockey player Wayne Gretzky, has been quoted as saying, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Martorella will take his shot this weekend at The Big Go. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, too, as he plans to live stream some GoPro action!