MARTIN, Mich. – For the past seven years, Kevin Bealko has played second fiddle on his own race team.
After nearly a decade of success in the world of Pro Stock, just not in his own car, Bealko finally broke through with his first career Mountain Motor Pro Stock victory Saturday night in front of a jam-packed crowd at the IHRA Nitro Jam Northern Nationals at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.
Bealko bested No. 1 qualifier and the quickest man all weekend, Scott Hintz, to collect his first career Ironman trophy, doing so on a holeshot as the entire Black Diamond Motorsports team gathered on the starting line to witness the occasion. Joining Bealko in the winner’s circle on Saturday were Ron Maroney (Nitro Altered), Randal Andras (Nitro Harley), Marisha Falk (Jet Dragster) and Dom Lagana (Top Fuel) as the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series season winds down with only one race remaining on the tour.
“This means a heck of a lot to me. I have never been able to win a Pro Stock race in all these years of trying and to do it here today in this division, with these great racers, on the quarter-mile and right here in Michigan where John (DeFlorian) got his first win a few years back, is just tremendous,” Bealko said. “The whole gang has done a wonderful job for us, we are fortunate to have them. I just strap in and drive this thing; they deserve all the credit here.”
The Black Diamond Motorsports team, headed by Bealko, has enjoyed a great deal of success since it was founded in 2007. The team has won multiple races, set a number of world records and has been a force in the world of Pro Stock for the past several seasons. But a lot of that success has resided with Bealko’s teammate, Missouri native John DeFlorian, and not with Bealko himself.
On Saturday, however, Bealko had his own moment in the spotlight as the Bridgeport, W.Va. native drove the AMSOIL-sponsored Black Diamond Motorsports 2014 Chevrolet Camaro to the winner’s circle in dramatic fashion. Going up against top qualifier Scott Hintz in the final, Bealko got the jump on the line with a .039 reaction time to a .085 and used that narrow margin to edge his opponent with a 6.289-second pass at 222.13 mph. Hintz ran a 6.280 at 223.60 in the runner-up effort.
“There are just so many people to thank. My wife, she has put up with a lot these past few years, AMSOIL has been great to us and we think the world of their product and IHRA has just been magnificent. This has been the best drag racing experience I have ever had running with a great organization like IHRA,” Bealko said.
Bealko added wins over Pete Berner and Cary Goforth on his way to the victory.
“The car has been great lately. We had to tweak it a bit on day one when it was brand new, but slowly we have been getting the balance right on it,” Bealko said. “We have strived to win one of these with our second car for a while and now that we have done it, it is a pretty good feeling. The Lord has blessed us in a big way.”
Ron Maroney was Saturday’s other big winner as the driver of the “Blind Faith” Nitro Altered collected his third win of the year and, more importantly, locked up his second career Nitro Altered championship.