After one of the worst winters in many years to strike the northeastern part of the U.S., New York native Peter Biondo was more than elated to start his race season early in Florida.
Peter Bionda drove Anthony Bertozzi's 1963 Corvette Roadster with a PAR 565 BBC.
NHRA Super Stock, Super Gas and Division 7 Racer Peter Biondo
Biondo recently competed at the NHRA Division 2 opener at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton, Florida, where there were many racers in Super Stock and Super Gas who wish he was still digging out from a big pile of snow.
While there aren't many classes that he hasn't competed in, Super Gas isn't quite the norm for Biondo as folks as more accustomed to seeing him in the Stock, Super Stock classes.
"Basically I ran a little Super Comp and Super Street back in the day let's say," said Biondo of the class change to Super Gas. "Late last year I decided to try Super Gas a little bit here and there, just to change it up a little. I plan on doing more this year, I'm not going to say that I will run it full-time. Stock and Super Stock lately, especially in Stock in the faster classes, which are the A, B and C classes, there are more heads up runs and you really have to work your tail off for those. So, I just want to jump in and do some Super Gas races here and there."
After his first weekend out, he might want to rethink that strategy.
"The Super Gas car is actually Anthony Bertozzi's 1963 Corvette Roadster with a PAR 565 BBC in it fully protected by K&N filter products," noted Biondo. "With my tight schedule, I just don't have time for actual testing. I do my testing during time runs. So on Friday, I got the throttle stop ratio figured out and made some adjustments to the stop RPM and then on Saturday I got a little closer [to the 9.90 index], started to get zoned in on the numbers and we just took it from there."
Biondo was also competing in Super Stock for the Bradenton Division race and while the starting line procedure between the two classes are quite a bit different, it certainly did not affect him.
"Believe it or not, I really believe it helps me rather than hurts," he explained. "A lot of people may think the opposite. The hardest part of a Super Stock or full-tree is to react to the flash of the bottom bulb, which it exactly the same to reacting to the flash of the pro-tree. So when I go back and forth, it kinda keeps me in that sharp mindset of really just reacting to the flash of the bottom bulb and not anticipating it."
While some folks may think that getting to compete in two cars during the same event is an advantage, Biondo describes it as "absolute mayhem".
"It is an advantage in the first and maybe in the second rounds, when the rounds are really spread out and you have the time to focus on each one individually," he pointed out. "Overall, it actually hinders my program sometimes. Like this race, you get down to the semi's in both [classes] and it's absolute mayhem with the round-robin rounds. You barely have time to hook the battery charger up and even look at what the car is really running or hardly study the weather."
"Like when I was going up for the semi-final in Super Stock, the air was changing like crazy and the only time I had to decide what dial-in I was going to put on the car was driving up to the staging lanes," he noted. "And then the moment you get up there, they are pulling you right out for the run."
Being the top-notch driver that he is, Biondo was making all look like a piece of cake even when the Super Stock car he was driving gave him a fairly scary pass during the earlier elimination rounds.
"The Super Gas car was eventful," reflected Biondo. "The Super Stock car threw me a curve ball in the second round. It went very high in the air [on the launch] and when it slammed down it broke the steering. I knew the guys I was running was a tenth or two slower than the index, so while all this is happening I am telling myself, ‘If I can stay in this, I can win this round easily.' But it had landed and made a move toward the wall."
Thanks to the bright Florida sun, Biondo was totally unaware that he already had won this round, thanks to his opponent's redlight, but couldn't see that his win light was on.
"I had straightened the car out, but the wheel was well, let's put it this way, instead of your hands being at ten and two, it was more like seven and one," he confessed. "It wasn't the most pleasant feeling going down the track like that, but I made it to about eight-hundred feet and then lifted."
"So when I got back to the pit, I had about three or four guys come over, including Nick Folk, who came over with a welder to get it back together," he continued. "So I've got to get back up to the lanes to run Super Gas and they are back there banging on stuff, welding and lots of thrashing going on."
The Super Stock car was definitely fixed as Biondo went on to the semi-finals before bowing out to Jeff Strickland.
"I just lost a good race to a good driver," said Biondo. "I just didn't have my target reaction time, which I would have liked to have has a low-teen light. The conditions were changing, it was getting dark and call it being gun shy, I only had a .030."
"When I lost in Super Stock, I felt my chances were better in Super Gas," he continued. "It gave me a little more time to focus."
Biondo, who averaged a little better on the tree than his final round opponent throughout the event, still saved his best reaction time of eliminations, more than doubling up on Vince Costa Jr. in the final and carrying that through to the stripe to push Costa out for a 9.910 to 9.888 victory.
Both the Super Stock and Super Gas entries Biondo wheeled through numerous rounds during the event are fully equipped with both K&N Oil and Air Filters.
"There is way too much invested both time and money these days to take any chances on the race track with any sort of sub-par parts," explained Biondo. "I've been using K&N products for several years and I have never had any sort of failures. Besides the way K&N makes it easy for you to change the oil filters with the nut on the bottom of the filter, I have very little engine problems and I'm sure the K&N filter has something to do with that."
Biondo only has a few days to enjoy his season opener victory, before it's time to give it his all again, this time at the NHRA Division 2 event held at Gainesville Raceway and needless to say, he's feeling pretty good.
"You know first race of the season, you always have question marks in your head and I don't care how experienced you are or how many wins you have," he said. "You always have those question marks in your head because you haven't raced for several months. You are wondering if you are going to be rusty or this may sound funny, but little things go through your head like, do I still have it, am I going to be able to race at the level of expectations I have for myself and after the first win light, or two or three, that all gets erased."
"I am very confident of myself right now in both cars," he said of heading to Gainesville Divisional. "I'm ready and Gainesville is on my list of tracks that I fair better than some other tracks. I typically do pretty well there."
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