Dean Marinis captured the 2020 Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association (NEOPMA) championship title, his second such achievement with the series.
Coming off an eight-month dry spell as the start of the season was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the first NEOPMA race of 2020 was held in June at Cecil County Dragway and was also the sanctioning body’s first-ever 1/8-mile format event.
“Mean Dean” Marinis, one of the most revered small-tire racers and the 2017 NEOPMA champion, took the wheel of his Jerry Bickel Race Cars-built ’69 Camaro. Running a 959 cubic-inch Pat Musi engine with six kits of Speedtech nitrous, along with a Proformance Turbo 400 lockup transmission and Neal Chance torque converter, Marinis expertly worked the tune-up and showed that he is a championship-caliber racer no matter the circumstances. In qualifying at Cecil, Marinis claimed the number one spot with his 3.66-second pass, then made it through to the final round of eliminations where he went 3.95 at 192 mph to win over Kevin McCurdy.
Marinis was once again the top qualifier at the NEOPMA race in August at Maryland International Raceway, putting down a 3.67-second pass to lead the field. True to form, he then earned a spot in the final round but was forced to lift and went home as the runner-up for the weekend instead.
Finally, at the last race of the NEOPMA season at Maryland International Raceway in October, Marinis’s 3.68 at 204 mph trip qualified him second. Two elimination round wins were added to Marinis’s résumé as the weekend progressed, but his semi-finals effort brought him to the stripe just a touch behind Matt Deitsch, who Marinis also tunes for.
Throughout it all, Marinis’s impressive performances added up to a championship year for the team. “It’s been such a crazy year for everyone, but to be able to close it out like this is really great,” said Marinis, who has certainly stayed busy throughout 2020 tuning for NEOPMA racers including Deitsch and Gary Courtier, as well as NHRA Pro Mod and Nitro Funny Car owner Chad Green, among many others. “We’re looking forward to a great 2021 season, as well.”
Special thanks go out to team co-owner Harry Pappas, as well as crewmen Danny Hocevar, Steve Tzanis, Arnold Auglis, and Steve Auglis of TheRacingVids.