The Lamattina family aren’t ones to rest on their laurels, be it on their carrot farm in Victoria or in their Top Fuel racing operation.
Last season saw the team add a second car on a more regular basis with youngest brother John doing the driving. While teams in America will often promote the benefits of a second car for gaining data, the truth of the matter is that getting a second car up and running leads to many hassles.
John will be racing for the first time in Western Australia this weekend at Washpod Nitro Max this Saturday and Sunday at Perth Motorplex.
“Initially the second car was a huge hindrance,” Phil said. “Long term, I knew that the things we needed to achieve with that second car were going to come.
“At the start we tried to treat them the same, but it is amazing how even with practically identical combinations they are not the same. Both cars need different things at different times in different areas, power wise, clutch settings, all that sort of stuff.”
It has been a decade since the Lamattina family burst on to the Top Fuel scene. Success came quickly, with the team earning a championship with Darren Morgan at the wheel in 2005 but since then, even by their own admission, they have not enjoyed the amount of championships they wanted.
2014 saw that turn around with Phil Lamattina grabbing the championship trophy. He makes no apologies for wanting more titles for the Fuchs-backed outfit and that chase begins with Washpod Nitro Max.
“I don’t think anybody ever goes to a race meeting or ever competes for a year to not win something,” he said.
“We really dug deep, and I’m not saying that because we didn’t dig deep other times, this time we learned from our mistakes over the years and were able to identify our weaknesses and rectify them.”
A late season move on the part of the team was to engage the services of NHRA tuner Mike Domagala who has spent time under the flags of several different teams.
Lamattina was happy enough with the service to engage Domagala for the coming season.
“We are going to get Mike out for the shortened season until the Fuchs Winternationals. He enjoyed his time out here and he wanted to come back and we were able to strike up a deal he was happy with, he’s all ready to go,” Lamattina said.
Lamattina is looking forward to getting out to Washpod Nitro Max and duking it out with the competition.
“I’m dying for it to step up,” he said. “Mark Sheehan is a tough customer to go over to the west and beat him on home turf. And we are just chomping at the bit to take up the battle again with the Rapisarda boys.”
Strangely enough though, Lamattina’s biggest threat may be the assassin of his own making – brother John, who has earned accolades for his driving as a rookie.
“With John driving for a full season he will have a decent tilt at the championship at well,” Phil said. “In fact he will probably be my biggest competition.
“A lot of people that have been racing a long time can’t believe his ability there. He’s not too shabby on the lights, it will be tough for a lot of people.
“He’s hungry, he’s new and fresh. That will be the same with Wayne Newby (who will be driving for Rapisarda Autosport International), even though he has been racing a long time that change to Top Fuel will suit him nicely I think.”
The Lamattina family team will be part of the six car Top Fuel dragster field in attendance for the opening round of the ANDRA series, taking on Rapisarda Autosport International rivals Damien Harris and Wayne Newby, Chemical Warfare pilot Anthony Begley and ‘Nitro Madman’ Mark Sheehan in his all new, state of the art canopy dragster straight out of the USA.
Washpod Nitro Max takes place over two massive nights, with each containing its own rounds of the ANDRA Top Fuel and ANDRA Top Fuel Motorcycle championships with their own qualifying, elimination round, final and winner.
Whichever night you choose, you will be awed by the literally ground shaking experience of nitro drag racing!
Image by Luke Nieuwhof.