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Meet Mark Mullen, IHRA's hottest sportsman racer

Monday, 06 May 2013

Ever since Mark Mullen’s granddaughter was born a little over a year ago the Bradenton, Florida native has been on one incredible ride.

Considered his “lucky charm” in life, Mullen has had an incredible run behind the wheel of his treasured ’66 Chevelle since his other treasure in life was born including an unprecedented start on the Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL. A newbie to IHRA’s divisional series, Mullen has started the year with four consecutive finals, three wins and a 20-1 round record on the tour racing out of Division 2.

Not too bad for the 30-year bracket racer turned Hot Rod superstar.

“I can’t really describe how well the car has been performing lately. I have such a great group of people supporting me, from my wife Mary to my kids and of course my granddaughter,” Mullen said. “Since she was born we have had a horseshoe in the pits. She is a little over a year old and we have had the best year of our life as far as racing and it has been great.”

Included in Mullen’s incredible run in Hot Rod is a weekend sweep at the Bradenton Nitro Jam just last month where Mullen took home two more Ironman trophies for his collection. Of course the standout win from that weekend was his win Saturday night in front of the jam-packed Nitro Jam crowd as the Bradenton native went five rounds ending with a win over Vinny Laudicina in the final.

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Coming off of two great runs, Mullen outdid his opponent on the tree with a .038 light to Laudicina’s .094 reaction time which proved the difference at the other end as Mullen ran a 7.052 second lap at 91.05 miles per hour in the 7.00 class while Laudicina ran a 7.028, 105.77 in the runner-up effort.

Mullen also had a win and a runner-up finish at Immokalee Regional Raceway in February, setting up Mullen’s improbable stretch.

“I had a busy week leading up to Bradenton. It started the day before where I attended the Ford AAA Troubleshooting contest as an instructor and we finished second and fourth with my kids. Meanwhile my daughter and son-in-law brought my car out here and did all of the work. When I showed up I just jumped in the seat and ran seven flat,” Mullen said. “During the day I got a couple of lucky rounds and we had a couple of good rounds and one thing lead to another and now here I am holding another one of these guys.”

Mullen also recorded wins over Tim Andersen, Sam Pagano, Larry Flynn and Tom Devito on his way to Saturday’s win in Bradenton and added five more round wins on Sunday including an odd solo pass in the final. The solo run was setup when semifinalists Ken Buckner and Charles Aldrich Jr. both left before the tree was activated, automatically disqualifying both racers and leaving Mullen with his third career Ironman trophy.

 “We bracket race all of the time and flat out my car runs 6.90s so going Hot Rod racing really hasn’t been that big of a stretch for me,” Mullen said. “It is awesome because there isn’t a whole lot of change for what I have to do setup to setup. I roll a second out of the delay box and make small adjustments to the car as far as weight and we go to work. Hard work, dedication, a wife that loves me, students that work on my cars and a great support system is what allows me to be standing here now. It really is awesome.

“I also want to give a special thanks to BLP Products. They dropped everything to build be a carburetor to speed the car up because, with the weather, I wasn’t sure if I could run seven flat. Mark, Mike and Tony built it for me, told me not to touch it and get to work. I did not touch it, put it in and it is just repeating like you wouldn’t believe. The car has been phenomenal and this run has been amazing.”

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Thanks to that start, Mullen holds an amazing 153 point lead over second place Ralph Hester in the Division 2 Hot Rod standings after just four races. Mullen has accumulated 430 points in those four events, ahead of Hester’s 277 and William Stepp who has 264.

The top three in each Summit Pro-Am Division automatically qualify for the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL to race for an IHRA World Championship and as it stands right now, Mullen is in the perfect position to lead the field entering the event at Memphis International Raceway in October.

“This whole journey has been amazing. About two months ago my buddies said they were going down to Immokalee for the races down there and said that I should go with them and run Hot Rod. Of course I told them ‘I don’t think so’, but ended up making the trip anyway,” Mullen said. “We went down there, won the first day, was runner-up on day two and then we come to Bradenton and win two more. Let’s just say I am pretty sure we are going to Jackson in June and I am very excited to see where this ride takes us.” 
Last modified on Thursday, 23 May 2013

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