TABLE OF CONTENTS
with Tom Martino
driver of the Century 21 Real Estate Corp.
Pro Stock Firebird
It's hard to believe we've already started the 1999 season because it doesn't seem like two months have passed since we last raced in Pomona. Some of that may be due to the Martino Racing team's having another eventful off-season. So find a comfortable seat, put your feet up, and let me bring you up to date.
The biggest news is that Century 21 Real Estate Corp. has come onboard as our primary sponsor for the next two years. This is their first venture into motorsports, and we feel fortunate that they chose NHRA and Martino Racing. We're going to do everything we can to show them they've made the right choice. In fact, I'm hoping to make the winner's circle one of their multiple listings in 1999.
But Century 21's involvement extends beyond the racetrack. They have designed a nationwide promotion around the racing program titled "Drive It Home," which will center around show car events at shopping malls in each race market during the week before a national event, beginning in Phoenix. People stopping by the Century 21 display will be invited to make a donation to Easter Seals, for which they will receive a game piece shaped like a house with a chance at winning a car. If they "open" the garage door on their ticket and see a key, they will receive one and be asked to return on Thursday before the race. That night, I'll make an appearance at the mall, and as part of a live radio show, the 21 winners will try their keys in a brand-new car. The lucky contestant whose key opens the car will get to drive it home!
We are also very happy to welcome back our associate sponsors. This includes Jesel Valvetrain Innovation, which has been a major supporter of this team from the start; Pontiac, whose Firebird is the car to have in Pro Stock; and CFE, whose parts help us make the horsepower. We're proud to have you all on our team.
Inside that fancy new hauler will be a couple new race cars. For the first time in our history, the Martino Racing team will have two race-ready Firebirds at its disposal. One is a Jerry Bickel car purchased late last year, and the other is a Rick Jones machine picked up just a few weeks ago. Each is painted with the dynamic new Century 21 design, which we unveiled in January. Although having two cars is a lot of work, we believe this will give us greater flexibility and allow us to choose the car we feel most comfortable with. It's all part of doing whatever it takes to develop the consistency necessary to compete with the top teams in Pro Stock.
As if that wasn't enough, Tom Kling and I spent countless hours working on our engines in our never-ending search for power and to assemble a healthy arsenal for the start of the season. It's hard to forecast what's going to happen, but we'd like to keep ahead of things in the motor department. Overall, I believe the package we will put on the track in 1999 will be our best ever.
A lot has been made of Pro Stock's going back to manual shifters. I must admit, sitting in the car, I get pretty excited about it because I've always done well shifting. It gives us more control and allows us to really race. Although it really shouldn't affect the top teams, I think it's going to provide extra excitement for the fans, and I'm looking forward to it.
By the time you read this, the season opener in Pomona will be behind us, and I hope we came out of the box strong. Our primary goal is to be consistent at every event, qualifying in the top half and winning rounds — no small task, but something we're realistically capable of. If we accomplish that, we will score wins and put ourselves solidly in the top five. Naturally, the Winston championship is our ultimate goal, but we're looking to build a solid, long-term program that contends for the title every year. We hope to see you at the races, and remember to watch for the distinctive Century 21 Pro Stock Firebird as we battle the most competitive quarter-milers on the planet.