Manzo scores milestone 100th win
Monday, October 08, 2012
by Brad Littlefield, National DRAGSTER Associate Editor
Top Alcohol Funny Car driver Frank Manzo became the second driver in NHRA history to reach the 100-win milestone when he picked up the victory at the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading.
All-time win leader John Force became the first driver to 100 wins when he scored in Houston on April 14, 2002, and the 100-win club finally has a second member in Manzo. Manzo has a combined 217 wins when his 117 wins at NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events are added to his 100 national event wins. He also has 21 Northeast Division titles.
In the process of driving his Al-Anabi Racing Monte Carlo to his 100th win, Manzo clinched the 16th championship of his illustrious career, breaking his tie with 15-time Funny Car champion Force for most championships in NHRA history. It is his seventh consecutive title and 14th in the last 16 seasons.
“As a young kid when I started racing Alcohol Funny Car, I dreamed about winning one or two national events, beating Dale Armstrong and Ken Veney and all the big guys,” recalled Manzo. “I never really thought about winning the championship. I just thought about winning a race. I would have never dreamed about 100 wins.”
Manzo scored his first national event win at the 1980 NHRA SPORTSnationals in Bowling Green, Ky., when he defeated Mike Kosky in the Pro Comp final (pictured). The Pro Comp classes were split into Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car in 1981, and Manzo became the first Top Alcohol Funny Car champion that year. Manzo won 99 events in the Top Alcohol Funny Car class in only 239 events, so he has won a whopping 41 percent of the races he has entered. He has won 18 percent of the 547 races at which the class has been contested while attending less than 44 percent of them.
Of all Manzo’s records, his active winning streak in national event final rounds is the least likely to ever be matched. His win against Paul Noakes in the Reading final brought his streak to 39 consecutive national event finals without a loss dating back to his win at the Atlanta event in 2006. To put that in perspective, only 25 drivers in NHRA history have even scored 39 wins. His last loss in a final round was at the season-opening event in Pomona in 2006, and his last final-round loss prior to that was at the Houston event in 2003. His career record in final rounds is 100-24 (.806).
It took Manzo 22 years to get from one to 50 wins, and it only took a decade for him to get his last 50 wins. His 50th victory was a memorable occasion because it occurred at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus on his 50th birthday in 2002.
Manzo has been a force to be reckoned with over the years due to his abilities at both driving and tuning along with a relentless work ethic that is difficult to match. Two constants throughout his career have been the help of his right-hand man, John Glade, and the support of his wife, Michele. His skilled team also includes Ed Hofmann, Fred Bauer, and Mike Giaffino.
Located in Morganville, N.J., for most of his career, he has a long history with Maple Grove Raceway. This is his 14th win at the Reading event. He swept an entire decade of racing by winning each of the 10 races contested between 2000 and 2009. It is one of four venues where he has double-digit national event wins, along with Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Atlanta Dragway, and Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.