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Nitrous-Fueled Family—Bound by drag racing, this team became a family on and off the track

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Written By Steve Baur
Photography By Kevin DiOssi

One of the great things about racing is that despite the competitive nature of racers in general, they often share a camaraderie that can lead to long-term partnerships and friendships. Such is the case with Rob Orofiamma and Anthony, Domenic, and Frank DiRienzo who together compete in the ARP Nitrous Pro Street class with the Fox Mustang you see here.

For Rob Orofiamma, drag racing became part of his life as a teenager when his father started him off in Junior Dragsters around 14 years of age. When he got a little older, he bought his first Mustang, a Fox, that he began building, but sold before it was finished.

“I’m a Fox-body Mustang guy. I always loved watching Billy Glidden and that’s pretty much why I got into it,” Orofiamma recalled. “Glidden came up to run Super Street, and a good friend of the brothers used to run that, so they came across the car that way,” Orofiamma said of the impact Glidden had on all of them.

With a full-throttle passion for drag racing, Orofiamma took an apprenticeship mechanic at a performance shop and built his second Fox Mustang, which he eventually raced. It was during his time working there that he met the DiRienzo brothers, and started a relationship that would grow well beyond the over-the-counter experience.

After being spectators of drag racing for a long time, often relying on good friend Sam Iaboni for their drag racing news away from the track, the DiRienzo brothers leapt from the stands to the pits and purchased a race car. They put the word out and their friends Steve and Joey Lazzaro contacted them about a car that they knew was for sale. The DiRienzos took ownership of the 1990 Mustang and with help from Marco Campoli and the race car’s new sponsor, Dircam Electric, stripped it down for a mechanical makeover.

Over the next few years, the car’s rebuild progressed. Orofiamma and his brother, Tony, continued advising the DiRienzo brothers while they were out racing their own car. When it came time to put the car on track, the brothers asked Orofiamma to be the wheelman.

“Rob’s results as a driver, and his performance and passion toward racing leaves me speechless,” noted Frank DiRienzo. “The many nights working on the car in the garage with Rob and his brother Tony shows our dedication to the sport and we strive to be a strong competitor out there.”

This combined team built the Mustang for the EZ Street class that previously ran in the Ontario Street Car Association, but the series moved away from class racing and toward the grudge/no-prep scene. The quarter-mile EZ Street class continued to run at other local tracks and events.

To run the 7.80s that the Mustang has clocked in class trim, the team relied upon a 525ci/nitrous combo, but they made some changes to take it to the next level.

“We hooked up with Monte Smith, and he switched us to EFI two years ago,” Orofiamma told us. “He wired the car and installed the EFI. We had issues with the engine, and he hooked us up with the 565.”

That 565ci engine is a high-quality piece built by race- and award-winning Oakley Motorsports Competition Engines in Kentucky. With help from Phillip Oakley, Tony Orofiamma took over the tuning duties of the nitrous-injected machine.

“He’s always loved the tuning aspect; he’s pretty good with the suspension, too,” Rob said of his older brother.

With limited events and few good racetracks to run at, the Ontario, Canada-based team started looking for other places to stretch their Mustang’s legs and took notice of the NMCA and its Nitrous Pro Street class.

“It was the only class our car really fit in, so we ran it last year (2019) at Norwalk, and then decided to run the 2020 NMCA schedule,” Orofiamma explained. At the Norwalk event, Orofiamma qualified the car in sixth with a 4.86 and despite taking the starting-line advantage over Don Baskin in the first round of eliminations, his 4.85 would not be enough to stay ahead of Baskin and his 4.53.

Going into the 2020 season, they made more changes to the Mustang, which included changes to the engine, the transmission gearing, the rear gearing, and the addition of Menscer Motorsports shocks.

“We’re still creeping up on the car’s potential, we’ve been 4.67 in testing, said Orofiamma. “There was a lot more nitrous in the old setup, and we have better reliability now.”

At the 2020 NMCA season opener in Bradenton, Florida, Orofiamma drove to a 4.83 to qualify fourth, but faced tough competition from NPS newcomers Vince Khoury, Kyle Salminen, and Craig Cerniglia.

Orofiamma drew Cerniglia in the first round of eliminations, and did his job on the tree with a .010 reaction time to Cerniglia’s .085. Unfortunately, Cerniglia’s Chevelle powered past the Mustang at the finish line for the round win.

Having run a 4.67 in testing, the DiRienzo/Orofiamma crew knows it has the power to go rounds, but they’ve already begun thinking about what it would take to go quicker.

“The plan is to run a 632, and that will also allow us run NPS and Outlaw 632,” Orofiamma explained.

With new plans come new challenges, but with a strong friendship and finely honed racecraft, the DiRienzo/Orofiamma team will be well prepared for what lies ahead.

The Details
Owner/Driver
Owner: DiRienzo Brothers
Driver: Rob Orofiamma
Hometown: Bolton, Ontario, Canada
Occupation: Diesel mechanic
Class: ARP Nitrous Pro Street
Crew: Crew chief-Frank DiRienzo, tuners-Tony Orofiamma, Phillip Oakley, Crew-Domenic DiRienzo, Anthony DiRienzo, Sam Iaboni, Julio Ricci, and Frank Russo
Powertrain
Engine: Big-block Chevrolet
Engine builder: Oakley Motorsports
Displacement: 565 cubic inches
Block: World Products
Bore: 4.600 inches
Stroke: 4.250 inches
Crank: Callies
Rods: MGP
Pistons: Diamond
Cylinder heads: Profiler Performance Products 174X
Valvetrain: T&D
Camshaft: Oakley Motorsports custom ground by Erson Camshafts
Carburetor or EFI system: Holley EFI
Power-adder: Monte Smith direct port nitrous oxide
Fuel brand and type: VP Racing Fuels C-25
Spark plug brand: NGK
Headers and exhaust: Innovative Racecraft
Transmission: Powerglide
Transmission Builder: Hutch’s Transmission
Clutch/shifter/torque converter: Abruzzi Racing torque converter
Rearend: LE Chassis Engineering
Differential: Strange Engineering 40-spline axles and spool
Chassis
Body and/or chassis builder: LE Chassis Engineering, Woodbridge, Ontario
Suspension (Front): Menscer Motorsports
Suspension (Rear): Menscer Motorsports
Brakes (Front) Brand: Wilwood Engineering
Disc/Drum: Disc
Brakes (Rear) Brand: Wilwood Engineering
Disc/Drum: Disc
Wheels (front) Brand: Weld Racing
Wheels (Rear) Brand: Weld Racing
Tires (Front) Brand: Moroso
Size: DS2
Tires (Rear) Brand: Mickey Thompson
Size: 29.5X10.5
Body modifications: Fiberglass upgrades
Fiberglass/Carbon body components: Hood /front bumper
Safety equipment: Impact Racing
Performance
Vehicle weight: 3,000 pounds
Quickest ET: 4.67 seconds (eighth-mile)
Best 60-foot: 1.13 seconds
Fastest mph: 152 mph
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