NHRA Top Fuel racer Mike Salinas made history Saturday evening at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina, becoming the first driver of a wheel-driven vehicle to clock 300 mph in 660 feet. In the process, Salinas collected $30,000 from the folks at Phillips Connect, as part of the Phillips Connect 300 At The 1/8 program, which was launched last summer.
Salinas and his Rob Flynn-tuned Valley Services dragster went 300.80 mph in 2.936 seconds to the 660-foot mark, sailing through the 1,000-foot finish line blocks in 3.647 seconds at a booming 338.00 mph. His 60-foot time was .842, and he was 3.091 to 330 feet.
“This is surreal. Racers, we all dream about this. It’s just amazing,” Salinas said. “We’re inching up on things. This was not something we just stumbled on. The run itself, from half-track on, it was moving pretty good. I’m new to this stuff still, I’m learning, I’m not a veteran. To be able to do this and be the first at it, it’s amazing.”
Added crew chief Rob Flynn: “That’s absolutely incredible, and my hats off to our whole team. We’ve been struggling, but we’re not giving up. Mike says don’t give up, hit it as hard as you can. We fired everything we could think of that run and thank goodness it stuck. This winter we decided we wanted to shoot for that. To be the first one, that’s really special. It’s never going to happen again, and it was really incredible being on the starting line and everyone congratulating you and everything.”
NHRA and Phillips Connect partnered to create the unique program, rewarding the milestone feat of technology and engineering among the standout teams in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. The program is open to 10 total competitors; the next nine racers in the nitro categories to reach the 300 mph mark will also earn recognition and a bonus (The second driver will receive $13,000, the third gets $9,000, and the fourth through 10th drivers will each receive $3,000.) But Salinas is the first to do it, forever cementing himself in history.
“There can only be one first and Mike is always going to be remembered for being the first to go 300-mph in the 1/8-mile,” said Phillips Connect EVP Jim Epler, who enjoyed a standout career and was the first Funny Car driver to exceed the 300-mph mark in the quarter-mile. “This is a big accomplishment and it was fun to see. I’m super proud of Mike and his team. Rob Flynn and I worked together 20 years ago and I was real fortunate to work with him. I couldn’t be prouder of them and he will be known for this for the rest of his life.”
Brittany Force came close to the milestone number at last year’s NHRA U.S. Nationals with an 1/8-mile speed of 299.73 mph. Flynn and Mike Salinas have been clocked ever-faster speeds in recent memory, marketing themselves among the favorites for both the 300 mph barrier to the 1/8-mile, as well as the potential and still very likely eclipsing of the 340 mph mark.
It took the kings of the sport 11,509 days — 31 years, 6 months, and 3 days — since Kenny Bernstein first broke the 300 mph barrier to the 1/4-mile, on March 20, 1992, to cut the required distance to achieve the triple century speed mark in half.