It’s been a year since Hurricane Ian forced John Mazzorana and the Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association (NEOPMA) to cancel their 30th anniversary race at Maryland International Raceway’s Superchargers Showdown. Rain intervened yet again when the club tried to start the 2023 season with a 31st anniversary celebration. Rather than give up on the idea, Mazzorana and his team are forging ahead with a $31,000-to-win extravaganza to close out the season at the Superchargers Showdown.
NEOPMA has grown and evolved over the years as trends in racing have come and gone. The group switched from its longstanding status as a quarter-mile organization to an eighth-mile format a few years ago. Mazzorana, the club founder and president, has led the charge, working with a dedicated group of series officials, as well as loyal members and track operators.
“Thirty-one years is a major accomplishment for us, and we’re looking forward to celebrating that,” said Mazzorana, a retired banking executive. “We’re the oldest surviving club of this type. We’ve outlived several other associations in the Pro Mod space. So when I think of that, I give credit to my team and obviously the racers. We’ve outlived them all, and we’ve done it on a shoestring, which I think is pretty amazing. We provide real value for the racer, as well as for the track. We’re a very friendly club, very family-friendly and hospitable. A lot of racers tell me that’s a big reason why they race with us.”
As the series prepares for the 31st anniversary race during the Superchargers Showdown, Oct. 6-8, at Maryland International Raceway, Mazzorana sat down with Drag Illustrated for an interview about the event and what fans and racers can expect.
After having to cancel due to weather last fall and again in the spring, how excited are you for this 31st anniversary race?
Very excited and nervous about the weather, obviously. We’re hoping that we have decent weather. We were expecting well over 30 cars for our 31st anniversary celebration in the spring. We probably won’t have quite that many next weekend because it’s in conflict with a couple other major races, but we’re still going to have plenty of very fast cars.
How will this race be different than your usual events for racers and fans?
It’s a pretty exciting time. We’re paying a lot more money than usual. We’re paying a total payout of $45,000, and we’re paying down to the 16th car. Even the 16th car gets $600. The winner gets $31,000. The No. 1 qualifier gets $1,000. So, the payout is much, much bigger.
We’re also giving out small American flags to the first 200 fans through the gates. We’re shooting out t-shirts into the stands, at least 31 t-shirts for our 31st anniversary.
We’re having a member barbecue as we always do, but this one will be more elaborate. We’ll have even more food than ever. We have special banners that we’ve made up for the winner, the runner-up, and the No. 1 qualifier that commemorate the date. We’re having special trophies and all kinds of stuff like that – whatever it takes to make this race a big deal.
What does it take your team to put on an event like this?
It takes dedication and love. These guys are amazing. They come for practically nothing. It’s a labor of love for this group. They love the club and they love the class and they love drag racing. I think that’s one of the differentiators as well.
Plus, our racers are very dedicated – both to the club and drag racing itself. I sat down and took a membership count the other day. We have somewhere between 38 and 42 dues-paying members. That’s not bad for a little local club, having that kind of member base. We might not have quite the cache that other organizations have, but I’m proud of having that many members that are loyal to the club. It’s pretty impressive to me.
What about this race are you most looking forward to?
First of all, a great race. I hope everybody drives safely. I’m looking for guys to go very fast. If the weather’s good and the air’s good, I expect to see several cars going 3.59 or better. I expect to see the competition being really pretty good. We don’t know if we’re going to have 25 cars, 20 cars, or 32 cars. A lot of things can happen before race day, so I don’t know if we’ll have an all-run field or a 16-car field plus a consolation race. My intention is to have a real, major show so this will be a race to remember for spectators, the track, the racers, and the sponsors.