By trade, Tommy Delago is a world champion NHRA nitro Funny Car crew chief.

By nature, he’s a very competitive person.

Although he thoroughly enjoys being a tuner, he does enjoy getting behind wheel and race himself – when time permits.

With that in mind, Delago will drive his 1967 Nova in the Boninfante Racing NA 10.5 class at the 16th Annual National Muscle Car Association Muscle Car Mayhem, March 8-11 at Bradenton (Fla.) Motorsports Park in Fla.

“My car fits really well with the NMCA NA 10.5 class,” Delago said. “I also got to meet the people who run that organization and it is just a really great group of racers and I enjoy being a part of it. Through talks and this and that I decided that car will campaign every race this year. This quenches my thirst for competition.”

Following his appearance in Bradenton, will then put his longtime friend and Benicia (Calif.) High School classmate Frank Cervelli in the driver’s seat of his Nova in the next five NMCA races so Delago can concentrate on his role as co-crew of the nitro Funny Car driven by Shawn Langdon for Kalitta Motorsports.

“It’s like ‘hey we’re going to win the championship this,’” said Delago, who graduated from Benicia High School in 1987 with Cervelli. “It’s going to be tough and this is our first try it. We’ve only raced basically one NMCA race for the last three years. We’re still trying to figure out our actual combination. We do it a little different than most guys the way we want to run it with gear ratios and how we want to run the clutch and stuff like that, and we are doing it different because that’s what is fun for us.”

The Nova Delago is campaigning is a car he has had since high school, and it has gone through some changes over the years.

“It wasn’t a race car when I had it in high school, but I back-halved the car, I want to say 1991, to make it a bracket car and I used to bracket race it when I was younger,” Delago said. “In 2013 when I came back up here to Michigan to work at Kalitta’s I went to Milan, Mich., I saw a class they had there called all-motor and that made me want to switch the car over and put small tire on it and do some cage upgrades and some other stuff and put a stick in it and a clutch and made it fun.

I don’t have enough time to bracket race. To be a really, really good bracket racer you have to do it a lot. It’s like welding, you’re not a good welder unless you do it every day.”

In addition to Cervelli, Delago has some other friends helping him in this venture.

“Ian Landies of Mid-South Racing Engines he does a lot of the tuning on the car and he builds the engines and manifolds and builds the carburetors and his father-in-law races in Comp also and he builds Cervelli’s Comp engine and we all get along,” Delago said. “There are a few of us who like doing and it’s just a nice group of people that when I can I like hanging out with and racing with. For me, it’s a nice break to get back to the grassroots of why I race. I didn’t start doing this for a living. I started doing it because this is my passion and it still has always been my passion.”