Page 75 - AZ Extreme - AEM Volume 8 Issue 3
P. 75

 Story by Hal Sanguinetti
Pretty much everyone has a dream for their future, one way or the other. I believe racers – regardless
of what they race – have a more intense and specific dream. For some it’s to become a successful and winning racer in their chosen field, for others it’s to have their kids do well in racing. For others like me, it’s to restore and own
a famous race car from the past, and I’ve been very fortunate to be able to fulfill that dream with the Walton-Cerny- Moody Top Fuel car from 1972. But others dream even higher. For 50-year old native Phoenician Jim Maroney, his dream came to fruition this summer – since he was a little kid, Jim wanted to drive a modern ‘Big Show’ Top Fuel dragster in competition. His dream has come true.
Jim is the crew chief on my dragster, he’s the one who made it happen for me to drive a front-engine car deep into the 8’s at over 155mph. Without his help, I’d be floundering out there, I’m sure. But Jim has had a great deal of success in drag racing fuel cars, not only his AA Fuel Altered “Family Legacy” (6.42@230mph), but as a hired shoe
in the Candies & Hughes Nostalgia
Fuel funny car (5.81@247mph) and the Candies & Hughes Nostalgia rear-engine Top Fueler (5.73@258mph). He’s also a two-time Champion of the Western Fuel
Altereds. Pretty impressive resume, don’t you think?
But Jim wasn’t satisfied - the dream kept coming back, and this summer he was able to make it happen. Jim owns
a very successful Arizona Engineering consulting firm named American Flowtech. Through a strange set of circumstances, he ended up sponsoring
a Temple, Texas top fueler belonging to Terry Haddock, who is well known in the fuel ranks as the guy to send your broken aluminum engine blocks to for repair (Lone Star Aluminum Block Repair.) That’s been an ongoing deal for awhile, but this summer Jim was able to finally get in the car. He upgraded the license
at Norwalk, OH under the watchful eye of Jack Beckman, who told NHRA that Jim only needed the one run, he was fully qualified to handle the car (quite a recommendation!)
Epping New Hampshire was Jim’s first outing. The team is definitely low budget and has to be very careful about using parts, so they usually make only one qualifying run. Jim got in the field and drew – you guessed it – Tony Schumaker, the eight-time Top Fuel Champ. When the tree came down, Jim left on Tony and had better numbers
till about half track, when a miscue between the crew guys setting the rear tire pressure caused them to break
loose. “We had [Tony] Schumacher
[in the first round] and I just wanted to go up and make a good, clean run. I want everything to go smooth and give anyone any reason to complain about us. I just didn’t want to be That Guy. I left on him and we had better numbers until it smoked the tires, but those [rear] tires had 15 runs on them, so I just bought brand-new tires for this race.”
Next stop was the first race of the Western Swing in Denver, CO at Bandimere Speedway. After qualifying 15, Jim drew the current World Champion Brittany Force in the first round. Again, he left on the champ .059 to .099 and when Force hazed the tires, Jim took his first-ever Big Show round win. His emotion-filled top end interview make it clear that this moment was the highlight of his long career. In the second round, he faced perennial hard-charger Doug Kalitta, one of the best leavers in the sport. But in keeping with his plan, Jim left on Kalitta .055 to .075, but Kalitta kept it stuck the the ground and took the win.
In Sonoma, CA, Jim qualified with his best run so far, a 4.005 and faced the three-time champ Antron Brown in the first round. The reaction-time fate continued for Maroney as he left on the former Champ .033 to .066, and while he lost the race, he ran his career
et and speed, a 3.879 at 302.96 while dropping cylinders at the end. Elated did not describe Maroney, as now three of his dreams had been realized: drive a Big Show TF car, run in the 3’s and over 300mph.
Next it was on to Seattle and the Catspot Northwest Nationals, another sea-leverl track. Maroney ran well to qualify 14th with another 3, a 3.932 @ 283.13. This time his first round opponent would be the #3 Qualifier, Clay Millican, the current Top Fuel record holder. Once more, Jim proved his starting line prowess with a huge holeshot, .061 to .102 but the car smoked the tires at 330’ and clicked it off. His dream had ended . . . for now.
Maroney’s performance during his first four races ever in a Top Fuel car are amazing: he holeshot every single driver he faced, including three current and former champions . . . definitely
not an easy thing to do. Unfortunately, that elephant in the fuel racing room – lack of funding – ended his ride, for the time being. But Jim has been noticed, and I’d be willing to bet he’ll be back
in the cockpit of a car, some car, in the very near future. His talent & skill are obvious, and he dream has come true. Now we’ll see if he can tune my new car into the 7’s this next Saturday night! v
         Jim Maroney’s First Round Win in Top Fuel - Holeshotting and beating World Champ Brittany Force! Photo by Auto Imagry
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