Life is about learning from successes and mistakes. Through five years in sport compact racing, I've learned many valuable lessons. Through trial and error, listening to the wrong advice, and making new modifications, I've found myself in tough situations as I worked to help build the team Gardella Racing is today.
Drag racing is a great sport, filled with both speed and chance. When Gardella Racing started, the goal was to go fast, and the barrier to obtaining a low e.t. was a lack of knowledge and research to make the car come together. In the beginning, we had no idea what computer system to use, or which fuel system or fuel injectors. The list can go on for pages. The team dealt with many frustrations and was able to get back on track by thinking outside of the box.
The Hot Rod Class feels like it's falling apart. The field has diminished in the past years because many of the racers are making these similar mistakes. The Hot Rod Class has the potential to be the most exciting class in the eliminations. Hot Rods are uni-body and used to be actually driven on the street! It upsets me when I hear racers have given up at the track because they've listened to the wrong advice, had problems and lost money. I'd like to give advice to racers that will enable them to bypass some of the barriers and help the field to grow.
Racers need to be led in the right direction. There are very few experienced Honda tuners on the East Coast, for example; GR has worked successfully with DRT and JoTech. The good news is that drag racing is drag racing. Any racer can get good advice if they think outside the import box and look to the old dogs of the sport, especially the Mustang or Chevy guys. This is what Gardella Racing did-after the first few months of testing and headaches. The team connected with tuner Job Spetter of Turbo People, who overhauled the car. We've never looked back.
When looking for tuners, engineers, or chassis people, it's important to find out the number of years the company has been in business and the number of cars that have been built over those years. Turbo People is a well established business that constantly proves to be the lead tuning shop on the East Coast. Job has been tuning and racing Mustangs for years and is well known in the V8 industry. The successes that have come from looking outside of import racing has lead GR to enlist new modifications from past muscle car innovations. GR improved our car's performance using other successful V8 race businesses such as Kasper Fabrication and Machine, Wild Rides, and Wolfe Race Craft. Applying what has worked in other race circuits is constantly on our minds, as the team looks to be the national record holder.
Starting to build a racecar? There's no reason to reinvent the wheel. Ask the pro racers questions. Over the years, I've gotten great advice from Chris Rado, Stephan Papadakis and Craig Paisley. Currently, there is a pro racer for every model car, from Honda to Mazda. Take advantage of us; everyone is willing to help another racer. If you have any questions for me, I'm on Honda-tech and instant messenger every night. I answer questions and e-mails from racers starting out, or who are running into barriers. Racing is my passion and there's nothing more that I want but to see the sport grow. Remember, a successful racecar company knows what parts you need to get the car down the track; the run may not be perfect, but it'll be damn close.