We noticed Karl Martin's orange RX-7 in the staging lanes, making a mental note that it looked well sorted. The car came out and ran a 10 and we decided to follow it for possible "Spotlight Performer" status. And like Jeff Lockett's Neon in last month's spotlight, our selection went all the way to victory lane.
Martin qualified first in the Sport RWD class at the NHRA Mopar Mountain Madness Nationals at Bandimere Raceway with a 10.18 at 135 mph. He followed that up with 10.48- and 10.94-second efforts in eliminations as he advanced to the finals. The finals were anticlimactic as a freak occurrence left him alone in the burnout box for the money race.
In the semis, David Lee and his EVO VIII and Scott Pareso and his '92 Skyline GT-R were both DQ'd for leaving the line before the tree was activated. Martin made the most of his single, dropping a 10.77 on the crowd.
Martin's RX-7 is a good argument for simplicity as it sports only two internal mods- a street port and 3mm Apex seals-no lightened rotors or custom concentric shafts. Martin fabricated the effective intercooler treatment himself as well as the roll cage and other odds and ends throughout the car. He says the engine pumps out an impressive 808 whp with the aid of a 75-shot of nitrous. Martin reports that at the strip the nitrous system uses a pressure switch to act as a spool-up device. He admits that he has wired up an "Ari Button" that overrides the pressure switch and allows nitrous to flow at full boost. Referring to friend and fellow rotary racer Ari Yallon of Rotary Performance fame. However, his small tires cannot hold the GT42 turbo's max of 32 psi, never mind when the big squeeze is applied.
Martin attends races on a geographic basis-any race that's close, the sanctioning body doesn't matter so much. He's on pace to win a points championship at his home track in Salt Lake City, which is his season goal at this point but says he's one of the guys that races for the love of it. Hallelujah.