A new milestone in drag racing has been reached: Mike Salinas is the first person in the National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) history to go 300 mph in the 1/8th mile. Drivers have gotten within one mph of the record before, but Salinas definitively broke it with a 300.80 mph run at 660 feet during qualifying at the NHRA Carolina Nationals.
The race to reach 300 mph in the 1/8th mile has been something of a drag racing white whale. Since the NHRA reduced Top Fuel race lengths from a quarter mile to 1,000 ft following Scott Kalitta’s death in 2008, top speed has become less of a priority. Racers have focused even more intensely on developing cars to accelerate rapidly, which led to a decade-plus campaign to break acceleration records. Top Fuel has since reached the same top speeds in 1,000 ft that 2007-era cars reached in the quarter mile, which marks the stunning rate of development at the top-flight class of drag racing.
Salinas has been in exceptional form since hiring experienced Top Fuel crew chief Rob Flynn in 2022. Since then, Salinas has achieved five of his eight career Top Fuel victories in a career that started full-time in 2018. He got his Top Fuel license in 2009, but only competed sporadically until he could finally commit to a racing season.
What makes Salinas unique in Top Fuel is that he owns and operates Scrappers Racing without a major full-time sponsorship. The name Scrappers comes from his career as an owner of a San Jose, California recycling business called Valley Services. For the most part, Salinas personally funds his Top Fuel operation, along with a Top Alcohol and Pro Stock motorcycle operation that two of his daughters, Jasmine Salinas and Jianna Evaristo, compete in. Jasmine recently gained her Top Fuel license and will compete alongside her father.
Max Verstappen's dominant 2023 notwithstanding, it’s rare to see racing history being written in real-time. As the first member of the "Phillips Connect 300 to the 1/8" club, Salinas will receive a $30,000 prize and a sure spot in the history of drag racing.
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