DRO: You mentioned that last season you had to run Top Sportsman instead of Pro Mod, why was that?
MJ: Last year was a whole new ball game to me, my crew chief Jerry Highway, and my team. We had been running nitrous motors in for the last 10 or 12 years or so, then I was talked into switching to a Blown Alky Motor. So when I did decide to switch, I had some people help me out. They really did their homework. I decided the best basis for the motor would be an Alan Johnson 481x set up. When I ordered my parts there were no cast heads available, plus the rulebook said only billet Hemi heads were outlawed. It said nothing about wedge style. So, I went with the billet heads. They hold up better and are easier to repair if hurt. Then when we made it to Grand Bend, which was our first race last season, we caught some shit. I don't know how the tech guys knew the heads were billet, someone had to say something. No one saw the car with the front end off. We didn't qualify there. We had some fuel system problems that you could say were self-inflicted. Anyway, later that week I received a call telling me that all billet heads were outlawed. So the only thing left for me to run was Top Sportsman. So we did.
DRO: How was the learning curve switching from nitrous to a blower?
MJ: Like I said I was kinda talked into it. Plus I always saw in the pits how the fans were drawn to the noise of the blown cars. Rich Kozak and his kids bugged me for years. Rich used to run a Jan-Cen engine years ago and he was one of the best blown car tuners in Western New York from the late sixties to the early eighties. Finally they twisted my arm enough and I went for it.
When I decided on the Alan Johnson motor, Rich got the idea to call Walt Austin. At the time Pat Austin had the quickest FM/FC and was running the Alan Johnson setup. Rich and Walt became friends. So we got Walt to do our fuel system and he helped us out with our engine combination as well. So as far as building the engine, I've built blower motors before but when it came to this I studied the best I could and got some real good help. Now, I can honestly say I could put one of these motors together easier than any of my nitrous engines.
DRO: Last season you also had Richard Hartman help you at an independent race. Could you tell us about that?
MJ: Yeah, Walt put us in the ballpark, but heading in to the
Empire Nationals, my home track. I needed to hit a home run. One of
my crew approached Richard and asked about his fuel systems. Richard
specializes in lean out and enrichment devices as well as clutch management
systems. Richard talked to Walt Austin and together they figured out
what would help me best. Then Richard flew in a few days before the
Empire Nat's and helped me out at a local independent race, the ECW
Nationals. There were some top Pro Mod guys there, including this season's
standout Alan Pittman. We were lucky enough to take the win there as
well as at the Empire Nat's later that week.
Copyright 2000, Drag Racing Online and Racing Net Source