It was October 2011, Sal and Peter Biondo were about to engrave their mark in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) history on the way to an unprecedented three National Championships captured by one family during the same season.
The year 2011 started off a bit slow, but during the summer, the brothers accumulated massive amounts of points to lead the National Points chase in three categories. But, waiting in the wings, were a few racers on the West Coast who had different ideas about their turnout. And to make a somewhat dramatic story short, Sal and his brother, Peter, were overtaken in two of the three categories contested. However, Peter did salvage the season by winning one of the National Championships, and the brothers also captured two Northeast Divisional titles.
Sal and Peter grew up at the races, so it was inevitable that the brothers would race. They traveled with their father, Sam and “Uncle” Butch DiLorenzo, all over the tri-state area while they were still in diapers. They watched as their father and Uncle Butch scored a ton of local wins. Sal and Peter began racing as soon as they got drivers’ licenses, and followed in Dad’s footsteps, winning hundreds of races in the tri-state area, and up and down the East Coast.
Eventually the brothers were offered to drive cars for teams on the “big stage,” which meant traveling coast to coast on the NHRA circuit. They have driven all types of cars, and to speeds as high as 180 mph.
They say the speed is something you almost get used to, it’s the adrenaline rush from trying to win that really gets your heart pumping. It was not long before the duo began winning Divisional Races, Divisional Championships, National Events, and eventually they captured some National Championships. Some racers on the circuit race their entire life hoping to capture one National Event or Divisional Event win. And, since 1990, between them, the brothers have approximately:
• 75 Divisional Event Wins leading to 21 Divisional
• 55 National Event Wins leading to 7 National Championships
Father Sam did not travel as much as his sons, but did muster up his first National Event win in 2002, and also won titles at two Divisional races. Sam was inducted into the Northeast Division “Hall of Fame,” January 15, 2000. He was inducted into the hall of fame based on his past success on the track, and his innovative ideas that he brought to the drag race market. Sam and his sons own and operate a mail order business (since 1987), based on providing the racers with safety equipment, and other hardcore items that can assist racers and enhance their driving skills. In addition to the mail order business, the brothers have ventured into some “teaching,” to fellow racers, on the in’s and out’s of the sport, and how to mentally prepare for the matches.
This may someday lead to retiring from the sport, and venturing into a new business of “teaching” down the road.
For Sal and Pete, growing up in Maspeth and Middle Village was awesome. They grew up on a very competitive block, where all the children rarely joined any after school activities, since they had to get home to the block’s own football, stickball, and hockey teams.
Whatever the season was, that would determine the sport! Sal and Peter both attended Our Lady of Hope School, where Sal’s children now attend. They went on to Archbishop Molloy (Sal), and St Francis Prep (Pete), and then to St John’s University. Traveling with Sam on the weekends kept the family very close. It certainly is a family affair, and it still is. They travel together as much as possible.
Sal’s son, Dylan just recently got involved in the NHRA junior program. The program allows children to start out at low speeds, and slowly, and safely, graduate to higher speeds. They race in cars called Junior Dragsters that reach speeds close to 80 MPH (we really hope his grandma does not read this). It is a great program, and teaches the children at a young age that the street is not a safe place to race. A controlled environment like the racetrack forces you to wear strict safety equipment, and to follow proper procedures. Of course, emergency vehicles, and personnel are always present. Children also learn sportsmanship, and being members of a team. Families travel together to these events, and can develop quite a bond being a team, and celebrate the big wins, and console the losses.
They love the neighborhood, and since they live in residential communities they cannot bring the trailers and cars home in between races. They caution that racing should only be done in a controlled, safe environment and never on local residential streets. The family also has a great advantage when flying, because they live so close to Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports.