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'Mr. Explosive' Mark Sanders gearing up for one wild ride

Friday, 14 February 2014

He is one of the boldest, loudest and most exciting drivers in the game today. His car name, “Mr. Explosive,” has become more recognized than his actual name. And his talent as a racecar driver speaks for itself. He is Mark Sanders, and he is one of the top contenders on the newly reformatted Nitro Funny Car circuit with the IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series.

Sanders, from Maple Valley, Washington, has become a major player on the nostalgia scene over the past few years, piloting the immediately recognizable and extremely memorable “Mr. Explosive” machine, primarily on the west coast. Now Sanders will take his talents on tour with the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series in a new Mustang-bodied ride and he is looking to bring his own trophy – just like his beloved Seahawks – back to the northwest.

So what lies in store for the outspoken 52-year-old veteran pilot? We asked him that and a whole lot more as he gears up to make a run at the 2014 IHRA Nitro Funny Car championship alongside some of the most talented Funny Car pilots in North America.

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Q: So what has Mr. Explosive been into this offseason?

Mark Sanders: Work, work and more work with a little bit of Hot Yoga! I have a small concrete construction company up here just outside of Seattle and we do all retro fit work to commercial buildings and man are we busy. We are so busy that I had to hire my son Jake six days a week over the last couple of months to get our entire race operation ready for the 2014 IHRA Nitro Jam tour. I am also in the process of retro fitting our old fire station of 40 years I purchased last year into the new home for Security Race Products. I will be pouring concrete and pounding nails for that project before and after every Nitro Jam race, keeping me and the family up on the tire.

Q: How is the car running?

MS: The car has been performing very well lately; well, at least during the 2013 season. We don’t get much testing time up here in the Great Northwest so it makes for a lot of preparation in the shop.

Q: Any major changes to the car or to the team?

MS: No huge changes to the hot rod, but if you know Jake he is not sitting idle, so there are lots of small changes. I can’t wait to get to the track and see what he has been up to. The ‘Mr. Explosive’ team is pretty much the same great group, my merry band of Jody, Jake, Jaclyn, Nick, Keith, Steve, Jim and Evlyn. Yeah, that’s right. We have three females on our team. Yes you gals can do it to, so come by and say hi this season.

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Q: I hear your son has been getting more and more involved in racing, tell us how he is doing?

MS: More involved in racing is a bit of an understatement. Jake, now 24, has been around racing since he was born. Jake jumps into every aspect of racing. He builds everything and tunes the ‘Mr. Explosive’ Funny Car, flows other racers fuel pumps, helps on the injected nitro cars, tunes an 8,000 horsepower Top Fuel sand dragster. Really folks, he is living everyone’s dream right now. I am going to say he is doing very well and we will all see what he is capable of this year at a race track near you! By the way, Jake also got his license in a nitro-injected dragster. He wants to pilot the ‘Mr. Explosive’ funny car, but I tell him he is just about $225,000 short of that seat. Always next year son.

Q: What was your first thought when you heard about this deal IHRA put together for the Funny Cars?

MS: The IHRA Funny Car Program they put together with the purse money and the year end points championship is top notch. And now that I hear MAV TV is going to put on a TV series, how huge is that for all of us involved and for our sponsors. I just hope it keeps on growing, a tip of my hat to the entire IHRA team!

Q: Are you looking forward to competing this season against such a tough group of competitors?

MS: Tough group of competitors is right! Wow, it is going to be a lot of work, focus, scheduling, and a ton of fun! Getting to travel across the entire country, go to and race at places you only dream of growing up. The competition will be intense every night, every round win and every point. I say start your engines and lets get this show on the road, about 20,000 miles worth for us.

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Q: Obviously the nostalgia Funny Car deal is really taking off around the country, why do you think that is?

MS: Nostalgia Funny Car bodies are the real deal, just as they were 30 years ago. Everybody either had one, sat in one or would love to restore one, so if you are into any type of cars you can relate to, these body styles are for you. And then, of course, you bolt on a 3,000 horsepower blown nitro engine, shut the body and ship it down Broadway in under six seconds at over 250 miles an hour. When you throw in an every day working person in the driver’s seat and you get the real deal package that everyone can relate too, and if you have the drive and the need for speed, you just may be in the lane next to me.

Q: What is your favorite thing about this class and these cars?

MS: My Favorite thing would be being around my family and friends. I am from a family of nine; six brothers, one sister, mom and dad and more than 30 nieces and nephews and 902 friends across the country. The cars take on so much old school character, the different looks, the different body styles, engine combos, tow vehicles. So you go out to your driveway, jump start one of your old rolling stock and head to a Nitro Jam near you!

Q: Anything you want to say to the Mr. Explosive fans out there entering the 2014 season?

MS: The 2014 season is going to be full of record setting mile-per-hour runs, elapsed times and intense between-round action and it is our plan to roll to the south, head to the east, sweep to the north and bring the world championship trophy back to Seattle just like the Seahawks did! Can you imagine shutting down the streets of Seattle again in October when we return, I can!

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Last modified on Friday, 14 February 2014
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