This past 2018 season, Berlin Borough resident Dan Pomponio Jr. was crowned the NHRA East Region Top Alcohol Funny Car Champion with 362 points.
For Dan and Beth Pomponio, drag racing is a family affair, which made this past season that much more special.
Dan has been racing essentially his entire life. Born and raised in Berlin Borough, he started in 1968 around the age of 15, racing in several different styles before deciding to take a break around 1990 after 20-plus years around the sport.
Their longtime sponsor decided to go in a different direction, buying the racecar from the couple, allowing Dan to step away from competitive racing for about 10 years.
That is, until 2000, when a joke between the married couple pushed Dan to want to get back into racing once again.
“One night at the dinner table, Beth tells me to get a life,” Dan joked. “And I kind of had to think about that for a second; I’ve got a great job, a great family, a great house, a great lawn.”
“I told [Beth] that if I ever had another life it would be in a Funny Car, that had always been my dream, to drive a Top Alcohol Funny Car,” Dan added. “And she said the famous last words — ‘What’s stopping you?’”
They spent months researching and watching races as a family, observing other teams in every aspect. This style of racing uses a specific car that runs on methane to go down a quarter-mile track as quickly as possible.
“We were rookies after 20 years of drag racing getting to a Top Alcohol Funny Car,” Beth said. “It was totally different than what we were used to do.”
Dan began his adventure of racing his own Top Alcohol Funny Car in 2004 with eight family members serving as his crew, mixing a lifelong dream with the love of his family.
As the years went by, the family continued to get better and better, compiling career achievements for Dan, including at least four national event wins and five regional event wins.
This past season, after years of hard work, Dan Pomponio Jr. was crowned the Lucas Oil Racing East Region Champion in Top Alcohol Funny Car with 362 points. He was awarded the championship trophy at the National Hot Rod Association Northeast Division I awards banquet last month. In addition, Dan’s brother and nephew, John and Johnny Pomponio, were awarded Crew Chiefs of the Year for 2018 as well.
Dan’s career best in completing the quarter-mile race is 5.49 seconds, having reached 263 miles per hour, both of which he accomplished this past year during his championship season.
Having accomplished what he labeled as a life goal this past season, Dan has no intentions of leaving the sport and looks to continue to do it for many years to come.
“It’s five seconds of pure chaos,” Dan said. “There’s no other adrenaline rush that trumps this.”