For Pat Musi, this race represents the last hurrah in New Jersey before he packs everything from his shop and home in nearby Carteret, N.J., and relocates to Mooresville, N.C. The outlaw-racing icon has immersed himself in the 10th edition of the SPEEDTECH Shakedown Nationals street-legal classic. His Pat Musi Performance business is the sponsor of the Top Sportsman class, but he will be consulting with his clients from a variety of categories. On top of that, Musi will be going for the $20,000 winner's share of the purse as he competes for the Pro Modified trophy.
The eight-time Pro Street class champion will drive his 2010 Dodge Stratus in the Pro Modified class, trying on Raceway Park's historic quarter-mile to qualify for the 32-car field. He said that in the process he'll use this opportunity to have a shakedown of his own, treating it as a test session for the American Drag Racing League finale Oct. 19-20 at the Texas Motorplex, near Dallas.
"We'll be trying some stuff," Musi, who's ranked No. 3 in the ADRL Pro Mod chase, said during Saturday's long delay. "Our motor needs going through, but we figured we'd make a few passes."
He used the first one to claim the No. 6 spot with a 6.109-second E.T. at 219.19 mph.
"I like the Shakedown deal," he said, adding that he's enthusiastic his schedule will permit him a chance to run once again at what he calls his home track. "I raced in The Shakedown one other time, but there always seemed to be a conflict. It should be a great race. I've raced at Raceway Park for about 40 years. I'm glad to be back."
Musi last competed at Raceway Park at the 2010 NHRA Supernationals, qualifying in the top half of the field and posting a quarterfinal finish. However, during the years, he has driven Pro Modifieds and Pro Street cars. "We did a lot of match-racing there, too," he said fondly.
In recent years, Musi has taken his brand of drag racing to the Caribbean island nation of Curacao, and he'll return there for events in November and December. So The Shakedown Nationals will serve as his special test against some of the sport's top names before he takes on an international field.
He said he's impressed with Shakedown Nationals founder / promoter Dave Hance and how he has built this event that bills itself as "a no-holds-barred feast of tire-shredding horsepower" but also has inherited a label of some curious blend of history and hysteria.
Said Musi, "Dave Hance is really trying hard, He's out there, working hard. And I've never heard him talk about anybody bad. So we'll try to support him and The Shakedown."
During the extraordinarily long afternoon wait in the staging lanes, he said, "I feel bad for Dave, but it's just one of those deals."
One of his more recent duties has become teaching 21-year-old daughter Lizzy Musi, a Top Sportsman racer and graduate of the Jr. Dragster ranks. With him racing in the ADRL Pro Mod class and her in Top Sportsman, they have dreamed about becoming drag racing's first father-daughter combo to win at the same ADRL race. The younger Musi will be lending support for her dad but isn't in the mix this weekend because her car is in Jacksonville, Fla., with its owner.
"It sucks that I'm not racing here," Lizzy Musi said. "This weather is really good. And the track looks really good."
She said since her attention-attracting accident at Bristol this year wasn't the way she had planned to let people know she was on the ADRL scene but that she is getting more and more comfortable in the machine that she has driven to a 4.06-second E.T.
"She learned a lot form that accident," her father said. "It's not a matter of IF you're going to crash but WHEN. We've all crashed. But she did exactly what we [longtime friend Rickie Smith and he] told her. We can feel it in the seat, but we can't explain exactly how it feels, how far you can push a car."
He said Robert Patrick, who's two weeks into his long recovery from that Norwalk, Ohio, wreck, is "a really, really good driver. So it's hard to explain that."
He added that he's teaching Lizzy not to be merely a passenger in her race car. "I always say we have drivers and passengers, and we've got a lot of passengers" in the sport.
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