MARTIN, Mich.– The year was 2003.
Clay Millican was still king of the IHRA Top Fuel world and there was little anyone could do about it. Millican won 10 out of 12 races that year on his way to a runaway victory in the championship over Bruce Litton, his third of six titles in a row.
But buried among Millican’s gaudy stats and impressive accomplishments was another major feat by another, lesser funded team that would prove a turning point in the career of two brothers. That year Bobby and Dom Lagana eclipsed the two biggest barriers in the world of drag racing and they did it all at one race – the 2003 Northern Nationals at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.
For a struggling team barely able to make the field from one race to another, the four second barrier at 300 miles per hour was a bar that had eluded the severely underfunded team for some time. The Lagana brothers watched it happen race after race, year after year among their peers, but the numbers eluded them.
Then, in August 2003, the two brothers traveled to U.S. 131 Motorsports Park once again just hoping to make the field and what they came away with was a moment that still stands as the greatest moment in the nearly two decade-long career of older brother Bobby. Bobby Lagana went 300 miles per hour in less than five seconds.
“Out of all of the stuff we have accomplished, out of everything we have ever done in our careers, that was the greatest thing by far. When you reflect on the greatest times in our career, that was the moment that truly meant we had arrived,” Lagana said. “All of those years where we were half a second slower than everyone else and didn’t qualify, our dream was just to get to four seconds. We dreamed about it, we strived for it, but it is such a hard thing to accomplish. When we did it that weekend, it was a moment I will never forget. It was the pinnacle of everything we had ever done.”
For two brothers from New York, that moment meant they had arrived on the Top Fuel scene.
And while victory would elude the team for another three years, when Bobby finally did win his first Ironman trophy in 2006, he points to that moment at Martin, Michigan in 2003 as the turning point in his career.
“After eclipsing that barrier, it really opened a lot of doors for us. We started gradually improving, getting better equipment and getting a lot of help from the other teams including Clay’s team,” Lagana said. “After we hit that mark, it gave us new goals to strive for including getting to our first final and ultimately our first win.”
That first win came at the Grand Bend Motorplex in 2006 over none other than Clay Millican.