Late start on drag racing circuit doesn't slow Sykesville driver


Drag racing has grown in popularity because it appeals to all levels. From the professional driver to the weekly bracket racer to the occasional hobbyist, everyone can enjoy their day at the track.

Local tracks like 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia provide the occasional competitor like Dano Passaretti of Sykesville a safe place to race with friends when time permits.

Until eight years ago, the 33-year-old Passaretti had never been to or thought about going to a race track. His boss, Jeff Doffmeyer of Mount Airy, and some other co-workers began bugging him to go the races with them. Not interested at first, Passaretti figured he should go at least once to please his boss.

Once Passaretti got around the cars at the drag strip, he couldn't help but become interested. He returned a few more times and before long, he was racing his own car, a 1969 Ford Mustang Fastback that he has been restoring.

"I guess I got involved because the guys at work were involved," said Passaretti. "We all go together several times a year to see who can go the fastest and who can beat who. We share a lot of information between us on new parts and things like that, but on race day we keep a few things to ourselves. It's a lot of fun; we are always kidding one another."

Although the Mustang started out as a restoration project, once the drag racing bug caught Passaretti, the car became a race car as well.

"I always liked the '69 Mustang Fastback," said Passaretti. "When I saw the car, it was only a shell. It was bare to the bone, but I had to have it. I knew there weren't many cars like it on the road and at first all I wanted to do was restore it and drive it.

"Along with my buddies Larry Bauer of Sykesville and Dwight Hoyles of Hampstead, we started the long task of restoring it," he said. "At first I had no intention of racing it. But once I started going to the track I had to see how fast it would go.

"I wanted to race it, but at the same time keep it street legal. I didn't want to go to the extreme and cut up the car like others have done to race. I wanted to keep it stock so I could drive the car on the road."

Passaretti and his co-workers race in Class II, for cars with elapsed times of 12 seconds or better. Finances and and lack of time prevents them from racing every week. Passaretti races several times a year, catching all the Ford events at 75-80, Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., and Capital Raceway in Crofton.

Ralph Mastantuono, his general manager at work, gives the guys support and sponsors Koons All Ford Day Show and Race at 75-80. Passaretti has been going over his car preparing for the first Koons Day on May 17. It will be the biggest Ford Day of the year with a special East Coast 5.0 Mustang Shootout.

Obviously, the group of employees all have Ford products and exchange a lot of information between them. When one finds an improvement with a new performance part or a change in set-up, he shares the information with another -- until it comes down to race day. Even Passaretti's boss doesn't get inside information on race day.

Starting with a high 13.0 second car, Passaretti has reduced his elapsed time to the lower 12s. He has experimented with the cylinder heads, intake manifold and changed the torque converter in the transmission. He has a stock 302 cubic-inch engine with a C-4 transmission. Not every change or new part works; there is a lot of trial and error. But that's the challenge that has attracted Passaretti to the sport.

Weekend results

In drag racing last weekend, Joe Mayne of Mount Airy won Class I over Steve Stambach of Mount Airy.

On the oval track, Jesse Wentz of Manchester was third in the super sprint feature at Lincoln Speedway. Dave Haight of Reisterstown was seventh. Bill Brown of Westminster was 10th in the thundercars.

Pub Date: 4/06/97

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