New York's Melanie Salemi stunned the radial tire drag racing industry on Sunday with a win on debut in the Radial vs The World class at the World Street Nationals in Orlando, Florida.
Salemi's victory came with a stunning 3.583 to 3.585 win light against fellow Noonan Race Engineering customer Stevie 'Fast' Jackson, accompanied by a 0.007 to 0.047 holeshot.
It was an unbelievable performance for the new G Force Race Cars 2019 Camaro, built by Melanie's husband Jon and her brother-in-law Jim.
“I have zero experience driving on radials, Wednesday morning testing was the first time I had even done a burnout on radial tires,” Melanie said. “But the team has a whole have quite a bit of experience with radials. Jon has tuned some successful cars so we were definitely starting on the right foot; we weren't behind the eight ball at all.”
Melanie has hundreds of runs at the wheel of a traditional slick tire Pro Mod, and she said the switch to radial tires had her hyper-focused on the behaviour of the car.
“The car reacts differently but I grasped it pretty quickly,” she said. “I was feeling like I was way more attentive to what was going on with the car because I was trying to learn. I am super comfortable in my (Pro Mod) Firebird and have made so many runs that I know when something is not right, so when getting into a car that behaves differently I was more on the cautious side.”
The power of the Noonan Race Engineering billet Hemi, manufactured in South Carolina, was vital to the team being able to reach class-leading pace so quickly.
“We had a 100% trouble free weekend, the power was awesome, and the parts we get from Noonan are flawless,” Melanie said. “With the 3.58 on our first weekend on radials, we definitely have some power there. A huge thanks to Renee and Jamie for their support and we look forward to digging deeper yet.”
A fun fact about the event was that Jon Salemi had only just hopped off a long flight from down under, where he was tuning another Noonan Race Engineering combination in Australian Pro Slammer racer Kelvin Lyle's Ford Mustang.
“He flew right into Florida and we met him there,” Melanie said.
Noonan Race Engineering would like to congratulate the Salemi family on their incredible radial debut and wish them luck in their future events, including the US Street Nationals at Bradenton in January and Lights Out at South Georgia Motorsport Park in February.