Brothers Bobby and Dom Lagana are from New York. They talk like New Yorkers talk and they act like New Yorkers act. But when you ask either one where their home is on the racetrack, both will point to one place - the tiny town of Martin, Michigan.
For nearly two decades, US 131 Motorsports Park in western Michigan has acted as the official home track of the Lagana brothers, serving as the location of some of the team's greatest motorsports accomplishments. Bobby's first four-second pass and first 300 mph run? Both took place at US 131. Dom's professional drag racing debut? That too took place in Martin.
But of all of the accomplishments the team has enjoyed, perhaps their most noteworthy came at US 131 Motorsports Park just last year.
Seeking their quickest and fastest lap ever as a team, the Lagana brothers traveled to IHRA's annual Northern Nationals in 2013 hoping to make team history. Instead, the team skipped right past team history and right into the stratosphere of IHRA history.
After a couple of noteworthy runs on Friday night at last year's Northern Nationals, Dom and his team kicked things into overdrive and left it all on the track in front of a packed house the following evening, making the single fastest lap in IHRA and US 131 Motorsports history in the "Nitro Ninja" Top Fuel Dragster.
With the header flames burning bright right through the finish line, the numbers popped up on the scoreboard - 4.663 seconds at 330.79 miles per hour. Others had been quicker, others had been faster in the sport, but none had been faster in annals of the International Hot Rod Association, the place where the Lagana brothers cut their teeth and learned the world's fastest sport.
Now the Lagana brothers, and four of IHRA's most exciting professional classes, return to Michigan this Friday and Saturday for the annual IHRA Nitro Jam Northern Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park.
"Looking back, that was an amazing night. We traveled to Michigan last year hoping to make our quickest pass ever in a Top Fuel car, but what we accomplished was our fastest pass ever and the fastest pass ever in IHRA," Dom said. "It was such a cool feeling to put our names up there with so many legends that we have raced with in IHRA. To be listed with guys like Clay Millican, Bruce Litton, Shirley Muldowney, Doug Herbert - all drag racing legends - is amazing."
Now, just one year removed from that historical pass, Dom and his brother Bobby return to US 131 Motorsports Park for another go at the IHRA Nitro Jam Northern Nationals this Friday and Saturday. And this time, the eldest of the two brothers and one of IHRA's most decorated racers, Bobby, will return to the cockpit of a Top Fuel machine alongside his brother in a Lagana family showdown at over 300 mph.
On the agenda this time - the 4.5 second quarter-mile barrier - one of the toughest obstacles in Top Fuel racing.
"We love going to US 131. We go there a couple times a year and we really enjoy racing on that track. When we get there, we will make some hits and get it dialed in, but if the conditions are right, we will try for the homerun," Bobby said.
If Bobby or Dom Lagana can get it done, it will be among the best passes in IHRA history. The current IHRA quarter-mile Top Fuel record is held by six-time IHRA champion Clay Millican at 4.484 seconds set at Rockingham Dragway in October of 2005. The speed record still stands with Millican at 328.14 mph, as Dom was not able to back up his run last year.
And that might not be the only history made this weekend.
IHRA will also welcome back Mountain Motor Pro Stock to the quarter-mile this weekend at one of the fastest tracks in the country. All season long the Pro Stock teams have pushed the records in the class to new heights, with Missouri native John DeFlorian and the Black Diamond Motorsports team currently holding the record at 6.224 seconds at 226.70 mph set in April. In Martin, DeFlorian will be joined by a season-high car count as nearly a dozen teams look to secure a spot in the eight-car field with only two races remaining in 2014. DeFlorian currently sits second in the standings behind Goforth Racing's Cary Goforth in his bright orange 2014 Chevrolet Camaro.
Rounding out the Northern Nationals professional field will be the nitro classes of Nitro Harley and Nitro Altered, along with the US 131 Motorsports Park debut of the Larsen Motorsports all-female jet team.
In Nitro Harley, Canadian Mike Scott leads the bike field in a close, four-rider race. Louisiana native Randal Andras is second, followed by Jay Turner and Mark Cox. In Nitro Altered, Ron Maroney in the "Blind Faith" entry holds a commanding lead over Don Blackshear. Finally, in Jet Dragster Elaine Larsen can close the deal on her first IHRA championship this weekend as she holds a firm lead over Dawn Perdue and Marisha Falk.
The 2014 IHRA Northern Nationals will take place this Friday and Saturday at US 131 Motorsports Park. For more information on the event, visit www.nitrojam.com or call US 131 Motorsports Park at (269) 672-7800.