Mark “The Shark” Mariani has been working overtime setting up a return to Top Fuel with his own operation.
Since picking the car up off Darren Morgan Racing (DMR), Mariani has had a spare part arrangement allowing DMR to use his parts until a new shipment arrived supplying both teams sufficiently so unfortunately has had no chance to breath life into the beast as yet.
In the mean time the car has been painted in a tribute scheme.
“We decided to colour it in the old school style of my dad’s old car and to put it lightly, he was awesomely surprised,” said Mariani
“A huge thank you to my friends at Pro Signs – Wetherill Park for making this beast look the part. I think it loans a new age feel to an old skool touch. Just like the legend of funny car drag racing in Australia Bob Dun did for my dad’s car about 30 years ago.”
“Dad wanted a black car with gold lettering but when it was finished he thought it was just not right. And Bob came up with the livery that dad had then and this is exactly what the Pro Signs Boys have tried to replicate today,” he said.
With the car looking trick and still waiting on parts work had to start on the rest of operation, this being a trailer and any Top Fuel operation needs a dedicated and specialised workshop for all that maintenance.
“Once we got the car back to our temporary stable (My workshop in Wetherill Park), the team got to work on building “The Team”. We have a great group of guys that have committed to building this team to become something special and they are doing a great job, I tell you that!,” emphasised Mariani
As work commences on refitting the trailer with a load of custom options, the team also set about finishing the workshop in preparation to move in permanently.
“The only thing to do now is seal the concrete driveway and then we move in. we are getting there bit by bit,” Mariani said.
“Over the last few weeks the boys have been getting stuck into building the benches for the workshop and a really cool, huge roller bench for the shop that we can use for a multitude of functions. A huge thank you to Ezi Metal – Wetherill Park for their help in supplying product here, its great that a lot of companies are willing to help with our new program.”
“We finished off the roller bench, we also finalised the benches in the shop. They look great! Bench tops are on (Thanks to Ply Master Smithfield) and we are now ready to get stuck back into the trailer.
Now that the background of the operation is coming together nicely, it was time to turn attention back to the car and source contacts.
“Mum and Dad decided to go to the USA for a couple of weeks over the Western Swing and caught the first two races. They met up with some good contacts and we are hoping to seal a deal in the next week or so to purchase a lot of the specialist tools and equipment that is required to run a Top Fuel Team,” Mariani stated.
“Setting up is one of the hardest parts of Top Fuel drag racing, there is an awesome amount of stuff we need to manufacture to do the job we need to do properly.”
“Hopefully we can have a bit of luck and turn out to have our contacts be in the right place at the right time,” he said.
The critical phase of having to fund a new Top Fuel operation needs to be addressed, and without the help of sponsors it is an almost impossible challenge.
“I have finally decided to bite the bullet and look into a professional company to look after our sponsorship proposal needs. I have tried to do this myself in the past but I decided it was time to seek some professional assistance,” said Mariani
“After numerous discussions with various companies we have come to a deal with Jigsaw Communications their professionalism and directness is something that I admire.”
“If you are going to do something, do it right and when it comes to business I believe in surrounding ourselves with people that portray the same business sense that you do and Jigsaw Communications have come to the party with exactly this.”
“Thus I am proud to say that in less than a months time we will have professional sponsorship proposals available to really go out there and chase down the companies that we need to help support us to achieve our dream, an Australian Top Fuel Championship.”
“Adrenaline Video has also decided to assist MFM with making a really cool video that portrays the look and feel of the new team and help us show people exactly what the sport of Top Fuel drag racing and the Mariani Family Motorsport Team is really about,” he said.
The team have already found some support already.
“We have also got a partner for the supply of all our standard tools, It is a company that is breaking into the NSW market in a big way and the deal is almost finalised. Delivery of the new tools should be in the next couple of weeks,” said Mariani.
It has taken four months since the decision to return racing was made and the debut at the Australian Nationals is closing in at a drastic rate with still plenty to accomplish between now and November.
The final move to the workshop will be completed and delivery of all the go fast bits are due to arrive any day soon so the team can fire the dragster into life and go testing.
“We will be looking at making the first shakedown pass at the end of September if we can step up the pace a little as we are slightly concerned about our time line at the moment,” said Mariani.
“A couple of private test sessions are in order to be able to have the team ready for the Nationals in November at Sydney Dragway. It is a lot to do in such a short time and we are lucky to have such a passionate crew with us to help out. Everyone is biting at the bit to go racing and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts for the hard work and commitment they have given us, this is a sport of love and we are not only building a workshop and a trailer and the tools and equipment we need to do the job right, we are also building “A Team” a group of guys that have a passion to achieve the same goals and be that little bit special together. It will happen eventually.
“If we cannot be there for the Nationals then it is because we believe in doing it right or not at all. Everyone has a goal to strive towards and that is ours but if its not right then its not right and we will be there for the next one or maybe even sooner. So lets see what pans out.
Photo Credit: Mark Mariani & Mick Holgate