While NHRA teams are focused on one of the most grueling stretches of races of their season, the Western Swing, teams leave their race shops – most of which are in the Midwest – and head west for Colorado, Washington, and California over a three-week stint, but for the Salinas family, the Western Swing offers a unique opportunity to step away from the daily rigors of business operations and take to the open road together on their motorcycles.
Top Fuel driver Mike Salinas and one of his daughters, Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Jianna Evaristo, along with brother and uncle Carl Salinas, departed their home in San Jose, Calif., early Monday morning to make their way unlimitedly to the first stop of the Western Swing: Bandimere Speedway in Colorado.
“This ride was something that we really wanted to do as a way to not focus on the business for a few weeks, but instead focus on our time together,” said Mike. “All we have is time, and we know our businesses are in good hands while we are enjoying time on the road. Monica [Salinas, wife] will join us for the ride from Denver to Seattle and then from Seattle to Sonoma, so that will be great as well. She had to stay back and handle some things this week but is looking forward to getting out here with us soon.”
The trio made their way to Las Vegas on Day One, departing Northern California at 4 a.m. to attempt to avoid riding in the hottest part of the day while the West Coast endures sweltering conditions. After some rest and relaxation, it was off to Utah on Day Two, where the temperatures exceeded the 100-degree mark for much of the ride, making it mandatory for the group to stop several times to hydrate. But venturing through the Zion National Park and into Moab, Utah, proved to be an unforgettable experience.
“We definitely battled the heat in Utah,” said Jianna. “It was hotter than I’ve experienced on a ride before. We’ve historically tried to schedule one big family ride each year, and this was a part of the country we hadn’t been able to visit before, and with the three races back-to-back, this was a great opportunity to see some beautiful parts of the country together. Of course, with the heat and the crazy time schedules, I’m definitely living on caffeine and sugar, so I’ll have to work on my detox after Sonoma!”
As the group made it into Colorado on Wednesday, the focus will shift to this weekend’s events at Bandimere Speedway, which will also mark the last time the series will compete in the historical NHRA Mile-High Nationals. Mike will continue his quest for his second Wally of the 2023 season, while Jianna will compete in this weekend’s Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge in Pro Stock Motorcycle after making it to the semifinal round in Norwalk three weeks ago.
“Bandimere Speedway is a really challenging racetrack for the crew chiefs and the tuners,” said Salinas. “All of the competitive teams bring equipment special to Bandimere because you need it for the elevation and the tuning we do for the weekend. We have different blowers and headers just to name a few, but so much rests on just making the right calls and for me as a driver, do what you can to get down the track clean without blowing anything up.
“It’s a shame that this is the last time we’ll race here as the Bandimere family has been wonderful to us all over the years, but we’re happy for them to enter the next chapter of their lives, and we know they’ll still come to see us all at races when they can,” continued Salinas. “All of us at Scrappers Racing would love to bring home a win at our last visit to this great facility.”