Drag Illustrated Issue 175, March / April 2022 - Page 34


The Kings of Queens

Dean Marinis , Harry Pappas find the magic recipe in Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod By Dennis Quitoni

You may not associate fast cars with a city of nine million people , and you may not associate one of the quickest nitrous cars in the country with New York City . But you might , if you know nitrous racers Harry Pappas and Dean Marinis . Queens , the second largest borough in New York City ( with more than 2.4 million residents ) is home base for Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod tuner / driver Dean Marinis and the childhood stomping grounds for Harry Pappas .

Competing in local bracket races just didn ’ t have that excitement that heads-up , all-out , full power drag racing has to offer , so in 2012 Pappas met Marinis and they teamed up to enter the world of Pro Mod drag racing . If there ’ s a magic recipe to operating a top flight Pro Mod car , it most certainly includes a top tuner , a great driver , a meticulously prepared car , and a well thought out game plan . The boys from Queens , New York , possess all the above .
Pappas and Marinis look at their Pro Mod as something that is constantly evolving . Each new car gets the benefit of their forward thinking . Sometimes it ’ s only the placement of a bracket or the movement of a component that benefits the balance of weight .
Working with Jerry Bickel Race Cars very closely on the construction and fitment of each new car , Pappas and Marinis incorporate what they learned at the track as well as what they come up with in the garage .
This is not one of the larger , high-dollar teams that you see sprinkled throughout the Pro Mod pits , but this is a highly resourceful small team . When Marinis is not in the staging beams , he ’ s sitting in the trailer studying the computer . Pappas is behind the car on the starting line for every pass . His watchful eyes absorb the car ’ s every movement as Marinis guides their Pat Musi 959ci-powered missile to the finish line . Back at the pit area , Pappas oversees a volunteer crew of friends , including Danny Hocevar , Steve Tzanis , Arnold and Steven Auglis , and John Karayanis . Although they check the car from front to back when it returns , this team keeps the car so well prepped , and the motor runs so clean , that you hardly ever see them taking anything apart .
There ’ s also something else about the Pappas / Marinis operation that makes it stand out from most of the other cars in the pits : no lettering , no decals and no multi-color trick scrolls or flames . But one look and you will see a striking blue paint job . It ’ s “ Maliblue ,” a paint from the House of
Kolor but with special mixing and blending to create this striking and smooth finish .
There ’ s no tractor trailer , no 5-10-thousandsquare-foot race car shop , just a 34-foot tagalong trailer and a two-car garage . When Pappas unloads after the races , it ’ s him and one more crew member , his wife , Dianne . She may not come to many races , but she makes all the travel and hotel arrangements , takes care of the operational expenses , and one more thing , it ’ s Dianne who ’ s backing Harry onto the driveway and it ’ s her helping to unload . In fact , she is not afraid to assist when a motor or a transmission needs to come out .
As one of the sport ’ s top tuners , the storied career of Dean Marinis has been well documented
right here on the pages of Drag
IllustrateD . What seems like quiet and standoffish at the track is really him in thinking mode . Marinis is always thinking , and that ’ s why the Pappas / Marinis team has put two NEOPMA championship trophies on the mantle . Their last car has traveled the eighth mile in 3.61 seconds at 206 mph , with an incredible quarter-mile record of 5.57 at 255 mph .
Sadly , the car was lost in a high-speed crash at the PDRA American Doorslammer Challenge at Summit Motorsports Park last spring . But there ’ s no quit or backing down with these guys , so after removing the motor , transmission , and whatever else they could salvage , a new 1969 Camaro was ordered from Jerry Bickel Race Cars within two weeks after taking the crashed car back to Pappas ’ garage .
Another element in that magic recipe is never being satisfied with the way things are . Because he ’ s been tuning Pro Mods for so many years , often two or more at the same time , Marinis has a great understanding of every component in a car , and an in-depth book of just what it takes to get one down the track .
When Pappas is not working at his produce restaurant supply warehouse and trucking business , he ’ s on the phone keeping his sponsors up to date . Pappas and Marinis stay in contact with their supporters after each race to offer feedback to the companies that provide them with parts and service , including Jerry Bickel Race Cars , Pat Musi Racing Engines , Neal Chance Convertors , Speedtech , Performance Transmissions , Moroso , and VP Racing Fuels .
The truth is that magic recipe is really just hard work , attention to detail , and great preparation . DI
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