“Mean Dean” Marinis, long acknowledged as one of the top small tire competitors in drag racing, added another title to his collection when he won The Pilgrimage x275 event held during the NHRA New England Nationals. In a wild final round, Marinis, in his nitrous oxide equipped Mustang, near lane, drove to a 4.462 on the eighth-mile track after opponent Robert Baptista had to shut off after his Chevy Camaro launched into a series of giant wheelstands. For the win, Marinis received a special edition NHRA acrylic Wally trophy.
Marinis was the No. 2 qualifier in the special eight-car field with a 4.650 and later improved to a 4.541 in his round one win over Aaron Bates. Marinis reached the final following a 4.47 win against Rich Bruder.
Baptista, who races regularly at small tire events at New England Dragway and has often been the track record holder at the Epping facility, emerged from the No. 3 qualifying spot to reach the final following wins against Tommy DePriest and Mark Dykeman, who broke just off the starting line in his ProCharger equipped Camaro.
The Pilgrimage was a special invitational event featuring the best radial tire racers from across the Northeastern U.S. The race pitted competitors in the New England X275 vs. X275 in an eight-car grudge match. Drivers received one time trial run on Friday morning and pairings were established following a blind draw before the first round of eliminations.
Entries in the X275 class must be stock-bodied vehicles and they are limited to a single power-adder (nitrous oxide, supercharger or turborcharger) and must race on small 275 drag radial rear tires. With half-track wheelstands, 165-mph speeds, and a wide variety of vehicles, the Pilgrimage x275 event proved to be a big hit with the Epping fans.