Top Alcohol Dragster driver Karen Stalba and her AA Auto Salvage team have been busy over the offseason, doing everything they can to bring home another regional championship. Karen has been securing new additional marketing partners, while her team has been working over every aspect of her nitro-burning A/Fuel Dragster. The New Jersey-based group hopes their efforts will bring the car back to its race-winning ways of 2011.
Stalba, who won the 2011 Division 1 TAD championship, struggled to perform over the last two years, winning just once last year. Karen believes her team’s work over the winter, as well as the introduction of new A/Fuel rules, will help bring a higher level of performance to the program.
“We found a lot of problems and inaccuracies over the winter. We had a few ‘aha moments’. The team has looked over everything, making sure we have a good tune-up and the right components to start with this season. As far as the new rules, I think the added percentage of nitro will help, especially in the hot weather. Before we start playing with the new rules, we need to get our tune-up from last year sorted out,” said the mother of two.
The new rules, introduced to the TAD class in December 2013, are meant to benefit the nitro-injected A/Fuel dragsters. A/Fuel teams are allowed to use 95% nitromethane fuel, up one percent, chilled ten degrees cooler than last year’s minimum temperature, running through an insulated main fuel line.
“We’ll have the same crew back again this season,” Karen said. “My dad, Tom Benkovich, and Erick Cindrich, are the co-crew chiefs. They tune the car and maintain it. Larry Bucher will also be back with us. My mom, Margaret, and Erick’s wife, Donna, also come out and help us. It’s a great family operation.”
Husband Tom Stalba also helps when he can, but he will be doing double duty this year, racing in many events and several classes, including Comp Eliminator, Super Comp and Super Gas.
Stalba and the AA Auto Salvage A/Fuel Dragster team plan on attending at least seven regional events and six NHRA Mello Yello series national events. They will start their season at the first East Region event of the year at Virginia Motorsports Park, April 4-5. (Richard Muir photo)