Drag Illustrated Issue 171, September / October 2021 - Page 72
DOM LAGANA was just a young kid when he saw the circus on wheels . Even at six or seven years old , he was perplexed at what his father , the late Bobby Lagana Sr ., was trying to accomplish . They were pulling a Top Fuel dragster on a Dodge Ram truck and one way or another , their father was going to make it work . ¶ “ We had to watch out for low bridges so you don ’ t hit the front end , and we definitely got some weird looks at the border when we would go through , let alone driving across the George Washington Bridge ,” Dom remembers . “ That was all survival mode , though , which is still instilled in us today .” ¶ It was race by any means necessary and Bobby Jr . and
Dom learned early on that things weren ’ t going to be easy .
Their dragster was rarely competitive from a race standpoint – sometimes going years without even qualifying in the class – but their passion for the sport only grew .
The means to the racing end was often unconventional , but there was something else established that was irreplaceable . It wasn ’ t about winning or numbers , it was simply about doing whatever it took to get to the next race .
That meant match race after match race just to get enough money to scrape together parts to make it to the next national event . It usually ended with an early loss , but the fire and passion for the sport was established – and it ’ s never left .
“ We still went to the next race with the same enthusiasm as the first race because there ’ s just something about that nitro car , something about that car rattling back and forth ,” Bobby says . “ To us , each run we made , even though we weren ’ t there to compete to even qualify , so to speak , each run and everything that we did mattered so much because we wanted to be able to go back in a month .
“ You just enjoy that horsepower , trying to blow you off the ground . It ’ s hard to explain to people that , this is what drives our life is that nitro car , that horsepower , that rear wing shaking , the rubber , the tire , just hooking up to the right track . And it just drives us crazy .”
Those early days are where Bobby and Dom learned the tuning ropes , knowing when to push forward and when to pull back when making a nice , easy clean run was everything , even if it was a half-second slower than the field .
They also learned about what it meant to receive a helping hand , something that shaped them to be so willing to give back .
These days , they ’ re part of the dominant force
“ I ’ VE SEEN IT BACKFIRE SO WHEN YOU GET INTO THIS POSITION YOU FALL BACK ON WHAT YOU KNOW AND DON ’ T BE HELL-BENT ON THE TECHNOLOGY END OF IT . I DON ’ T KNOW IF THIS IS GOING TO SAVE YOU . THERE ’ S A FINE LINE THERE ON HOW MUCH TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN USE .”
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