Top Fuel racer Mike Salinas has been competing on a limited basis in the NHRA since 2011.
When Salinas made his Top Fuel debut in 2011 at Sonoma, Calif., he was remembered more for the look of his pumpkin-orange, show car-quality Scrappers Racing Top Fuel dragster than for its performance.
Salinas will be competing in that same flashy dragster this weekend at the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and he is hoping to impress this time with his on-track results.
This season, Salinas has competed in five races – Topeka, Kan., Bristol, Tenn., Norwalk, Ohio, Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle – highlighted by his first-round win over U.S. Nationals runner-up Kebin Kinsley at Bristol, Tenn., on a holeshot and then his defeat of former world champion Shawn Langdon at Seattle in round one, thanks to his .028 reaction time.
Salinas has lofty expectations for Vegas as he has veteran crew chief Doug Kuch as well as legendary Alan Johnson as a tuning consultant in his team’s fold.
This weekend, Salinas is playing the role of the spoiler as Top Fuel teams fight for a world championship with just two races remaining in the 2017 season, the last one being at Pomona, Calif., (Nov. 9-12).
Next year, Salinas plans on competing fulltime in NHRA’s Top Fuel class.
It has taken the San Jose, Calif., native and 54-year-old businessman seven years to put together all the elements necessary to contend at the top level of the Top Fuel class.  He has worked meticulously to assemble a group of individuals who understand that at Scrappers there are parameters in place to insure success.
Crew members work at one job until they have perfected it and then they move on to master another and at the core of the Salinas Way, there is an uncommon attention to detail that includes artwork over orange paint on tools and workbenches throughout the pit area.
Salinas believes that if you provide a dynamic workplace in which crew members can take pride, it will be reflected in their mechanical contributions. That’s why everything in the Scrappers pit is either painted, polished, anodized or powder-coated.
The father of four daughters, Salinas was an American success story before he bought his first race car. While still in high school, he purchased an admittedly “beat up” 1956 Kenworth in which he used to haul junk to scrapyards in the evenings after completing his classes.
Ultimately, he and his wife, Monica founded Valley Recycling, which began as a scrap metal business before morphing into garbage hauling.  It wasn’t until Salinas handed over the day-to-day responsibilities of the business to a general manager that he had time to consider a racing career.
Now, he’s looking to have his drag racing career take the next step with a breakout weekend in Las Vegas.