By Mary Lendzion
While Vinny Palazzolo was already a hot shot in X275, he came to NMRA VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw a few years ago, and has been hauling ever since.
With a plan to put power down at all six events on the NMRA schedule in 2019, he readied for racing his Gary Naughton Race Cars-built Mustang packing a 400 cubic-inch small-block Ford, billet Losito heads, 88mm Precision turbo, Turbo 400 transmission maintained by Gates Transmissions, ProTorque converter and Haltech engine management system.
Then, he set the pace in qualifying with a 4.47 and made it to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle with a 4.47 against Dom DiDonato at the 25th Annual Nitto NMRA Spring Break Shootout in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida. The following month, he qualified in the second spot with a 4.39 and finished as runner-up against Rob Goss with a 4.39 at the 11th Annual Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by Mahle Motorsport in April at Atlanta Dragway.
The Pennsylvania-based driver pushed to the lead in qualifying with a 4.44 and finished as runner-up with a 4.41 against Phil Hines at the Inaugural NMRA Ford Gateway Rumble presented by HPJ Performance in May at Gateway Motorsports Park in Illinois, and qualified in the second spot with a 4.61 and exited eliminations in the semifinal with a lifting 6.20 against Blake Copson at the 19th Annual NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals in June at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania.
Palazzolo had an unfortunate turn of events next, as he qualified in the sixth spot with a 4.52, exited eliminations in the first round with a 4.50 against Shawn Pevlor at the 14th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing in July at Route 66 Raceway in Illinois, and had an incident with his enclosed trailer on the way home, damaging his car as well as Brian Warcup’s car, which he was transporting.
“We were in an accident after leaving Joliet, and the cars were damaged pretty badly,” said Palazzolo, who was not injured. “Chris Hare of Fatal Finishes took my car in right after that, and got it completely put back together and ready to go within twenty days. They worked on it every single day, and I owe them a huge thank-you for that.”
Without missing a beat — or a race — Palazzolo qualified in the fourth spot with a 4.48 and exited in the semifinal round of eliminations with an off-the-throttle 5.35 against Hines at the 21st Annual Nitto NMRA All-Ford World Finals in September at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky, and with that, he claimed the 2019 NMRA VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw championship.
The NMRA community will celebrate Palazzolo and his fellow champions at the NMRA Muscle Car Nationals presented by E3 Spark Plugs Awards Ceremony presented by Aerospace Components, Dec. 13 at the Indiana Convention Center.
“The 2019 season was full of so many victories, new friendships and many, many struggles, but the championship is a dream come true,” said Palazzolo, who soon after set an X275 record with a 6.62 and 209 mph at the Import vs. Domestic — World Cup Finals at Maryland International Raceway. “To be able to stand on that stage and have my name next to all of the previous and current winners is something that since I was young I could only dream of. My team and I have worked very hard to get here and this championship (belongs to) not just me, but my entire team, including Nicky, Rich, Dave, Bridget, Rosalia, Sicilia, Kevin and Shane.”