MDIR finished 2018 with plenty of champions
Smith led new class at track
A new class at Maryland International Raceway meant success for more drivers in 2018.
Winners for 2018 included first-time champion and two-year runner-up in Top ET Robbie Parlett, Mod ET second-year champion Tony Mattera, Junior Dragster winner Jordan Denny, Speed Unlimited Midnight Madness first-ever Diesel class champion Brendan Quade and Midnight Madness motorcycle champion Deshaye Mahoney.
New this year to MDIR was winner Clinton Smith, who raced this year in track’s newest class, the Ray’s Siding No Clock Street List.
On the final night of the season, Smith lost a spot and fell to number two, but took the top position back quickly to get his first-ever championship.
“This was my first year doing no clock street,” Smith said. “It’s more for a street car, thousandth flick, no time deal, grudge racing event. A list of top 10 cars that go against each other all and they have a shootout every night, so that when people win the shootout, they can go against each other. You get to make a test pass and we beat each other up for three rounds to find a winner.”
Smith races a soupedup Ford Mustang, in contrast to some of the more classic cars racing in the Mod ET class that MDIR has built its brand around.
“I had a couple competitors, but the biggest competition was the shootout we did down in Richmond. I got knocked out in the semifinals. I was fighting some gremlins on the car,” he said.
According to MDIR, Smith held the top spot in his class for most of the year.
“My hardest competitors were Dominic Emilio at number three. And David Gates who’s number
two. Us three have been the ones beating each other,” Smith said. “It’s a thousand-foot drag race. We had to make the class between nitro and turbo cars. They made it at the thousand foot to be in between the two.”
Winning for Smith took a lot of hard work and even more helping hands.
“I would like to thank Tim Essick. He’s our tuner,” he said. “I would contribute the success of the build of the car to friends and family. Special shoutouts would be to David Smith, my wife Jenna Smith, for supporting me and being there for me. And a couple friends, John Barnes for the turbo work, Tony Scoop for the cage work, Daniel Buckler for all the mechanical help and track sup- port, and Stephen Cross.”
MDIR recently announced what it says is its most jampacked schedule ever in 2019 and Smith hopes to hold on to his top spot.
“I’d like to hang onto that number one spot by the end of next year, to win some new shootouts,” Smith said. “I would like to continue racing in this class. I’m doing a turbo upgrade, the power of Turbonetiks helped keep out front this year and the power of precision will help us continue into next year.”
In addition to upgrading the car in the off time, Smith stands by the fact that he is a Ford guy.
“I love Ford, I’ve always been a Mustang guy my whole life. The new motor is called a Coyote motor, and it’s unstoppable,” he said.
There are people at the track who choose to stick to their classic car roots. That includes Tony Mattera, who has been racing his 1968 Chevy Camaro since he was a teenager.
Now, at 43 years old, Mattera — whose son and daughter compete in Junior Dragster while brother Bobby Mattera also races at the track — won the Mod ET class for a second year running, and is looking to defend his championship title.
“Mod ET is a stock racing class,” Tony Mattera said. “There’s no electronics. It’s a footbrake class. There’s more race cars than anything in the class. I started racing about 27 years ago, since I could drive, and have been racing in the whole class the whole time. We upgraded the car, but it’s the same one I used to deliver pizzas in. It’s a 1968 Camaro and the first car I bought.”
Some racers prefer to keep it classic, like Mattera, and MDIR has races for every type of racer, no matter what kind of car they have.
“My car has a big block Chevy motor,” Mattera said. “It’s pretty stock for a race car. It doesn’t get driven on the street anymore. I bought it when I was 15 and I would race it on the weekend.”
Mattera’s class is controlled by footbrake, meaning that the cars aren’t triggered by a button, but rather by the driver’s feet when the light on the raceway turns green.
“It’s a footbrake class,” Mattera said. “It’s when you would send your car, with one foot on the brake and one on the gas, let go of the brake and stomp on the gas. “Top ET has electronics and they use a button, so it’s a little more hand-eye coordination. It’s kind of like your daily driver class.”
This year’s championship did not come easily for Mattera.
“We were kind of fighting back and forth for the points lead, it got down to two, me and another guy,” he said. “He led the points most of the year. I took the points lead towards the end of the year, but I won two races out of the year and just got a bunch of rounds.”
Mattera added: “Actually last year I won the championship, so I won it again this year. Last year was my first, so it felt good again. I’ve been racing since I could drive. And I’ve been trying to get wins, and trying to get a championship coming in second place three or four times was tough. My son won in the Junior Dragster class, but I didn’t win, so I got that one last year and it felt really good.”
Mattera has a lot to look forward to this year at the race track.
“I just want to defend the championship again, and make it three in a row,” he said. “My daughter wants to win in Junior Dragster. She just turned 12, this will be her fifth year racing.”
Tony Mattera hits gas and revs toward the finish at the Maryland International Raceway earlier this year. Mattera won the Mod ET class championship title for his second year in a row. His son and daughter have participated in the Junior Dragster class in the past.