DragChamp Racer Spotlight with Marko Perivolaris

West Coast racer Marko Perivolaris has been racing for 9 years and has successfully made a name for himself in the bracket racing and NHRA world.

Marko Perivolaris was introduced to drag racing world at an older age than most racers. At age 16, they pieced together a 1994 Camaro as a driver and took it out to the drags at Sonoma and the spark was born.

Perivolaris runs a full divisional and national schedule in Super Comp and Super Gas with some bracket racing in between, whether it be big money bracket races or a Wednesday night at Sonoma. 

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He stays busy keeping up with the maintenance of four race cars, but the DragChamp team was lucky enough to catch up with him to learn more about him and his racing career.

Learn more about Marko Perivolaris with the following Q&A. 

DragChamp Racer Spotlight with Marko Perivolaris 

How long have you been racing?

I’ve been racing since I was 16 in 2011, so 9 years.

How did you get introduced to the sport?

We pieced together a ‘94 Camaro as a driver. We ended up going out to the drags at Sonoma Raceway right after I got my license. I liked the atmosphere and camaraderie. It was something that my whole family could be involved in (my sister Lela was too young to drive at the time so she started dialing the car). After my first ET Finals in High School, I went to the Frank Hawley School in Vegas, got my Super Gas license, and got my first bracket car — a ‘71 Datsun 240Z.

Where it all started!

Which class or classes do you compete in?  Where do you normally race? Provide a little history of your career.

I went in order through Pro, Super Pro, Super Street, Super Gas, then Super Comp. I still run four of those classes, just not Super Street. We try to run a full divisional and national event schedule and hit the big bucks’ races on this side of the country in between. Any weekends where races don’t overlap, we run the local Summit ET series at Sonoma Raceway and some Wednesday nights if we’re not at work.

Tell us about your current race car.  How long have you owned it, chassis builder, engine, drivetrain, how fast does it run, etc.

We have a ‘63 Nova small block car that I bottom-bulb, a ‘09 Sarmento dragster that I bracket race, a ‘67 Camaro Roadster for Super Gas, and a ‘14 TNT Dragster for Super Comp. All four cars are equipped with motors built by Panella Race Engines, and CRE Racing Transmissions Powerglides.

Please list your major racing accomplishments.

  • 2x Spring Fling Vegas wins
  • 2x NHRA Division 7 Jegs Allstars Qualifier
  • 3 NHRA National event wins
  • 3 NHRA Divisional event wins
  • 2019 NHRA Division 7 ET Finals win (Pro ET)
  • 2019 NHRA Division 7 ET Driver of the Year and 2013 Rookie of the Year
  • Other big bucks wins – $25k, $10k, and $5k
  • 2x Sonoma Raceway Super Pro Track Champion

What’s on your bucket list, future goals, what do you hope to achieve?

At this point, everything is based on taking it one race and one round at a time. As far as future goals, I hope to keep racing for as long as I can.

What is your favorite race car, and why?

I would say the Camaro Roadster… it’s a lot of fun running it wide open to the ⅛ mile. Going 4.70s in the roadster feels quicker than going 4.40s in the dragster. 

Marko Perivolaris

Who has made the biggest impact on your racing success?

Growing up watching my dad at the dirt track and being in that environment has really shaped who I am. I’ve always aspired to be as dedicated and as humble as he is. He retired from racing as soon as I started, and he and my mom continue to make sacrifices that allow us to keep traveling and racing as a family. My sister Lela still dials the cars  — she’s super competitive but I’m easy-going, so we balance each other out.

Who do you look up to in the sport?

Peter Biondo and Kyle Seipel have always been great mentors to me… but then there’s legends like Ted Seipel.

Tell us what you do for a living?

I currently work at the family business, where we do remodels and small construction projects. 

Sonoma Raceway is home for Perivolaris

How do you support your racing, side hustle, sponsor, partner, etc.?

In the evenings and on weekends where we’re not racing, my family and I have a shop at Sonoma Raceway where we set up and maintain some local racers’ cars. 

Who do you hate to see in the other lane, and why?

My sister… she just got a ‘67 Nova wagon. I’m not looking forward to it, she beats me up on the practice tree.

What’s the hardest part of drag racing?

Keeping the equipment together and maintaining it from race to race seems to be the biggest challenge. Fighting any mechanical issues at the track can be frustrating, being that there are so many variables that can cause them. 

What’s your most embarrassing moment in a race car?

I ran an exhibition at the Sonoma Nationals when I was 16. It was a part of the track’s “Top the Cops” program where a small group of high school kids raced against police officers. I volunteered to go first, and proceeded to do a huge burnout. As we were pulling up to the stage beams the officer started blaring their sirens and setting their lights off. I went in deep on accident… and on top of that I was LB3A. I’ll leave it at that.

Spring Fling win

What are you saying to yourself just before you stage the car?

My dad’s always told me that every race, regardless of the event, is “just another Wednesday night.” Sonoma Raceway has Wednesday night races that we do for fun. I like to tell myself that because it takes the pressure off. 

What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?

I enjoy the process of coming back from a run to analyze the data and reloading for the next round, especially when the turn around time gets shorter as the rounds get deeper. 

Are you superstitious?  If so, what are they?

Any time my sister finds a ladybug, she places it on a valve cover. She swears it works, but I’m not so sure.

Do you love to win or hate to lose?

Losing can be tough, but there’s always something to learn from each loss or mistake made. It’s inevitable, but I think fixating on it does more harm than good. Having the “hate to lose” mindset involves a lot of negative self-talk — thinking about what could go wrong instead of being focused on execution. Ultimately, winning creates the best memories and involves everyone you do it with. 

2017 Vegas win

Which are you better at the starting line or the finish line?

I think the starting line can make or break the outcome more than the finish line so I put more emphasis on trying to cut a light. That’s not to say the finish line isn’t equally important at times, I just feel that cutting a light gives the best chance of having more control over the round. 

What motivates you to continue racing?

I’ve had the aspiration to race for as long as I can remember. Having the opportunity to start racing and still be doing it is a dream come true. I love the process, and I want to do it for as long as I can. Being that the future is an uncertainty, I want to make the most out of the memories at the racetrack. We never know when we won’t have the opportunity to race.

How often do you use a practice tree?

When I do use a practice tree I tend to go off the bottom and only a few times a week.

One of Marko’s bracket cars

What is your daily driver?

An ‘09 Dodge pickup.

Favorite movie or TV show?

I watch a lot of NBA and MavTV.

Favorite music, artist?

I usually listen to country or classic rock, such as Garth Brooks, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and AC/DC.

What is your favorite sport?  Favorite team?

I’ve always been a big NBA fan. Being from the Bay Area I’ll always be a Warriors fan, but the Lakers have been fun to watch lately.

Besides racing, what do you do in your free time?

I don’t usually have a lot of free time because we’re at the shop a lot but I ride my road bike to keep in shape and read sports psychology books.

What are you really good at?

I’m good at remembering numbers — dates and round statistics.

Name one thing most people don’t know about you?

Before I started traveling to races I was going to college to become a history teacher. I’ve always loved history, but I switched my major to Marketing once we started racing more and got my degree.

Would you rather hang out with a crowd or have a quiet evening at home?

Things can get really hectic during the race season so I’d go with a quiet evening at home. 

What’s your favorite thing to eat?  Individual item, meal, or restaurant?

Prime Rib

Who would you like to thank, who helps you the most?

Most importantly, I want to thank my sister Lela for always being there for me, as well as our parents for all of their sacrifices and support to make it possible.

Our close friend, Mark Johnson has been building our motors from the start. Thanks to Mark and everyone at Panella Race Engines. Steve Casner at CRE Racing Transmissions (who has also been there from the start). Faron Lubbers at Hoosier Tire for always helping us make our program better.

Megan Strassweg

About the author: Megan Strassweg is a 22 year old Super Comp racer from Louisville, Kentucky. She races a 2015 American Dragster sponsored by Coolshirt Systems. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in May of 2020 with a degree in Photojournalism and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Megan works at Jim Butner Auto in the Finance Department. Growing up at the racetrack, drag racing is all she has known and never plans to give up on it. 

You can reach Megan on Facebook or email at megan@dragchamp.com

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