Blase Raia is in this week’s DragChamp Racer Spotlight. Learn all about this DragChamp Pro Member including his accomplishments, and racing career history.
ALTOONA, PA- DragChamp Pro Member, Blase Raia has been racing since he was 10-years-old and got his start in a Junior Dragster. His Dad is the one who got him introduced to the sport as he started out bracket racing a ’76 Trans Am. Now about 20-years later, he runs both Top ET and Modified ET classes in his dragster and ’84 Firebird. He normally competes at Keystone Raceway or Beaver Springs Dragway. However, the last few years he has branched out to travel to other tracks a handful of times. His kids have also recently started in Junior Dragsters and race week in and out with him.
Blase also helps run the Corona Lockdown Practice Tree League alongside Bob Welsch. The Facebook league got started back in March of 2020 when the world came to a halt.
Scroll below to learn more about Blase!
Current Race Cars
Blase’s current race cars include his 2010 Chassis Concepts Carbon Dragster that was built by Don Speer and a 1984 Hardy Built Firebird. His dragster is a 4-link 6.0 cert with a Riggeal’s body. It has a RaceKrafters 588 Big Block Chevy and a Randy Biddle Powerglide. It runs 4.70s at half track and he has had the car since 2017.
On the other hand, his Firebird has been 8.50’s at 160 on the long track 5.40’s in the half with it and a 540 big block. It currently has a 412 Performance Optimized Systems Wayne Skelly SBC. With the SBC on pump gas it went 5.90’s, but it will be on Alcohol this year hoping to go 5.70’s swapping feet. Blase first saw the Firebird when he was racing Junior Dragsters. He told the owner at the time that is he ever wanted to sell it, that he would buy it. Ten years later, he called him up and sold it to Blase.
Blase has two IHRA Ironman from swapping feet, a Jr Dragster track championship, and a few big checks hanging on the wall.
Outside of Racing
Blase makes his living as a Machinist for the Norfolk Southern Railroad. His favorite food is filet mignon and his hobbies include collecting and shooting guns. He likes all music, just depends on his mood and his favorite film is Law Abiding Citizen. He drives a Nissan Armada as his daily driver and he spends the most time on Facebook on the Corona Lockdown Practice Tree League.
What’s on your bucket list, future goals, what do you hope to achieve?
My bucket list is to get to run the OG Million. Once there I’m just looking to make the split, after that it’s all gravy. As far as personal goals, right now my major focus has shifted to being the best jr dragster crew chief I can be. We will be running points for the first time in over a decade just so my kids can get the experience. So I guess short term I’m looking for that IHRA 1x.
What is your favorite race car, and why?
My Firebird, It was a car I wanted as a little kid that I never thought I would own. Getting to purchase it at 20 was a huge deal for me. I’m a Trans am nmut and have been since I was old enough to remember. It’s light, fast, sits at a perfect stance, just a picture perfect race car in my eyes.
Who has made the biggest impact on your racing success?
My dad, he got me started and lit the fire under me that I have now. He always pushes me to be better, make changes when I refuse to change. It took a little while to get him on board with my driving style, but he has come around.
Who do you look up to in the sport?
A few big ones for me here. Michael Beard, he dominated my local track when I ran jr’s and moved on to become successful in all aspects through racing. He’s given me a lot of guidance the last few years in our own Corona League. Jeff Verdi, I don’t know what more to say other than he’s a Pontiac Guy that took his Firebird to wins in both millions in the same year. One of the coolest down to earth guys out there to boot. Lee Zane, Lee has driven everything that I’ve always wanted to drive. Comp eliminator and Pro Stock are the biggest things outside of bracket racing that I’ve always wanted to give a shot. He’s massively successful and again just an all and all good guy. He’s given me a ton of strategy advice and always willing to help me. Bob Welsch, last but not least Bobby White Claws. Bob has reignited so much in me these last few years when the idea came up to start the Corona League. He really lit the fire under me to push myself harder in racing. Outside of my dad I think Bob has more belief in me than anyone when it comes to this. I owe him a lot. I was going through a really rough time when he approached me with this idea and it turned out to be exactly what I needed.
Tell us what you do for a living?
I work as a Machinist for Norfolk Southern Railroad
How do you support your racing, side hustle, sponsor, partner, etc.?
I regularly sell my body to older women for money. I have a couple sponsors that help out, Hot Shot’s Secret , The Corona Lockdown Practice Tree League, Race Krafters, Performance Optimized Systems
Who do you hate to see in the other lane, and why?
Honestly I love the challenge, I want to match up with the best guys out there and prove myself that I belong. If I had to say a guy I don’t want in the other lane it’s the guy that is the local racer who everyone thinks doesn’t belong there and is a duck. He’s the guy out there with something to prove and will lay down a lap.
What’s the hardest part of drag racing?
Bracket Racing is a chess game at 150mph. Making a strategy with the discipline to stick to it or the judgement to be able to correctly change it midway down the track is incredibly difficult. It’s a mental marathon in only a few seconds.
What’s your most embarrassing moment in a race car?
Super easy answer here. $5000 final at Keyston raceway. I’m up against Bud Mcnasby, he’s going deep in his olds, I’m in my dragster. We both stage. He is a little over 1 and a half seconds slower than me. The top bulb lights on my side I let go, I’m watching his side of the tree turn green and after a second I realize he hasn’t left yet. My mind goes push the button back in and let off the gas, but in that instant the transbrake lockout is already engaged and before I can lift my foot the car launches….. I’m -.002 and he rolls out with a 6 second light for the $5000 win. Not my proudest moment and I regularly get reminded of it.
What are you saying to yourself just before you stage the car?
My last mental notes happen at the front of the staging lanes. I run through my game plan and envision what I’m going to do. Once we fire up and roll to the water box I pretty much turn into a robot. Muscle memory and repetition take over.
What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?
Getting to hang out with my family and friends on the weekends. When we go to the track I have my parents, my fiancé, my kids, and all my regular racing friends right there with me having a good time.
Are you superstitious? If so, what are they?
I guess it’s a superstition… I only run odd numbers in my delay box. My dad and I have a whole routine in the lanes that really flips the switch for me when I’m about to run that when he’s not there everything seems different.
Do you love to win or hate to lose?
Love to win, that feeling when the light turns on in your lane is unmatched.
Which are you better at the starting line or the finish line?
Definitely better on the tree. I’m like a blind guy at an orgy just feeling my way through.
What motivates you to continue racing?
Getting to see the excitement my kids have for the sport. How excited they are when they win rounds or I win rounds is awesome.
If money were no object, what would your racing operation look like? Car, trailer, class, race schedule, etc.
I’d look like Chris Gulitti only my race cars would always be full of fuel.
How often do you use a practice tree?
EVERY SINGLE DAY multiple times a day
What is your favorite sport? Favorite team?
Curling, Team USA
What are you really good at?
Jack of All Trades Master of none. Used to be a pretty decent bowler, Now I’m a mediocre at best bracket racer
Name one thing most people don’t know about you?
If I did that then everyone would know?
Would you rather hang out with a crowd or have a quiet evening at home?
I would normally say a crowd but Brooke and I have 5 kids so I’m not sure what a quiet evening at home is.
Who would you like to thank, who helps you the most?
I’d like to thank my dad for always being there to help no matter what. Bob Welsch for igniting this awesome thing called the Corona Practice Tree League. Kyle Fischer with Hot Shot’s Secret for all that he does for myself and the League as a whole. Wayne Skelly Performance Optimized Systems for giving me one hell of a small block and getting my firebird back on track. Bob Wise at RaceKrafters for getting my big block back together and making power. Paul Burruss with Mutt & Jeff Promotions for allowing me the opportunity to be part of his great races. I’ve really enjoyed getting to announce these events.
Want to become a DragChamp Pro Member like Blase? Check out the details here.