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Straight Line Spotlight

Bruce Biegler Nov 20, 2018
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Long-Lasting High School Affair
Rick Mattioli has had a very long relationship with his Camaro. The racer of this Middlesex, New Jersey-based car acquired his 1967 model way back in 1980 and drove it to his high school graduation that year. After some rather humble beginnings racing at his then home track (Englishtown, New Jersey), Rick’s Camaro has remained in competition ever since. Fast forward to the current day, Rick’s impressively maintained car is a versatile piece active in both Super Pro bracket racing and NHRA’s Super Street 10.90 index class. It is powered by a 427ci big-block built by Ron Ross and Steve VanCraeynest. With that engine and without a throttle stop, Rick’s Camaro has a career best run of 9.12 at 146.22 mph. Mattioli receives valued support for his ongoing racing ventures from primary sponsor Liftec Forklifts, as well as from Todd at ProLine Body & Chassis, Dean at Nickerson Performance, and Jeff Stricker at Road Runner Race Fuels. Special thanks go to crew chief Steve VanCraeynest, Glenn Rutkoski, Dan Rutkoski, Bob Milardo, and his fiancée, Cynthia, for their unrelenting understanding and support.

002 1993 Chevy S10 Truck 2/4

A Fun Lovin’ Criminal?
It was LOL for us around that moniker for Pete Maduri Jr.’s name in drag racing, but it seems that quite often the competition is not laughing. Maduri, a second-generation drag racer, has been busy massaging and racing a very slick 1993 Chevy S-10. Pete confirmed that his truck was originally street driven up to about 1999 after which it was back-halved and purpose-built by Buffalo’s Jason Vitez for full racing within NHRA’s Super Street class. This S-10 is now a lightweight effort (2,850 pounds) that features a 565ci big-block rated at about 850 hp. That engine was built by reputed Western New Yorker, Mike Janis at Jan-Cen Racing Engines, whose facility is located close to Pete’s hometown of Clarence, New York. Pete enjoyed a banner highlight season with his Dynabrade-sponsored machine during 2018. He won his first career NHRA national event at the New England Nationals. Future plans for Pete and his dad (Pete Sr.) include a second car after acquiring a 1984 Camaro Stock Eliminator last summer.

003 1967 Chevelle 3/4

Two Crown Jewels!
Simply put, pride and joy oozes within the NMCA’s widely popular Nostalgia Super Stock class. And that is evident from the two close friends who have chosen very similar paths in drag racing: Dan Whitford and Kevin Gass, who both campaign remarkable Chevelles.

Danny Whitford (Paducah, Kentucky) and his girlfriend Marty Ryan race a stunning 1967 Malibu SS. Whitford, who did some drag racing as far back as the late ’70s, returned to the sport relatively recently when he found this car and purchased it in 2016. He went through the car completely during the winter off-season, rebuilding it from top to bottom and from front to back. Now with the finished project, he competes within the NSS/A class, which features a user-friendly 10.00-second index. The engine program features a very reliable 555ci Scott Shafiroff big-block, which makes about 850 hp. Danny’s car, which is certified to run 8.50 e.t.’s (should he choose to do that) and tips the scales at 3,420 pounds, also employs a Turbo 400 transmission, AFR heads, Hooker headers, and Weld wheels surrounded by M/T rubber.

004 1966 Chevelle 4/4

Quite often at racing events, Dan is pitted beside his pal Kevin Gass and his equally stunning 1966 Chevelle.

Gass, who is from Ledbetter, Kentucky, has owned his car since 1985 and began racing it in 1986. He runs the car usually as a C/FX with a self-built 565ci Dart big-block. Kevin uses an ATI Powerglide transmission, and his 12-bolt rearend assembly houses 4.56 gears. Since its debut, this car has been and remains a real player within NMCA racing, finishing in the Top 10 in final season points seven times. During the 2018 season, Gass claimed arguably one of the NMCA’s biggest prizes, too, when he won the Nostalgia Super Stock title during the circuit’s marquee event held near Chicago. A unique aspect to Gass’ Chevy is the great red paint, which Kevin revealed is the end result of work done at the Kentucky State Penitentiary as part of their rehab program. Kevin funds his racing operation from his own speed shop: Pro Gass Performance and receives support from KJR Motorsports and Mickey Thompson Tires. His crew is rounded out by his wife of 31 years, Kim.



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