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Friday, April 19, 2024

Paul Stalba: Jr DragChamp Racer Spotlight

This week’s DragChamp Jr. Racer Spotlight is all about NHRA Division 1 Junior Dragster driver, Paul Stalba.

HAMMONTON, NJ- Junior Drag Racer, Paul Stalba comes from a family of racers. His Dad, Tom, is an 8-time Division 1 Super Gas and Super Comp Champion and his Mom, Karen, is a Division 1 Top Alcohol Dragster Champion. When Paul turned 8-years-old, he started racing Junior Dragsters and the rest is history.

Currently, Paul competes at Numidia Dragway, Cecil County Dragway, and Maple Grove Raceway, but also travels the NHRA Division 1 circuit with his parents and his sister, Emily. Throughout the year, they participate in multiple high dollar Junior Dragster events and they also attend the NHRA Eastern Conference Finals in Bristol, Tennessee.

Just recently, he received an invitation to race in the KOC Series Jr Dragster $10,000.00 Invitational presented by DragChamp at Christmas on the Coast coming up December 16-18, 2022 at Gulfport Dragway. 

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Paul’s Race Car

Paul’s current Junior Dragster is a 2021 Half Scale with a Craw’s Racing 7.90 engine on board. It was built specifically for him and 2023 will his third season with the car.

Outside of Racing

When Paul isn’t at the racetrack, he can be found hanging out with his friends, working, or playing video games. He also enjoys going go-karting and his favorite sport is Hockey. His current daily driver is a blue 2012 Dodge Challenger. One thing most people don’t know about him is that he was gifted a wrecked 2020 Nissan GT-R by his Dad for him to fix up and eventually drive as a daily driver.

His favorite music artist is Lil Uzi Vert, his favorite movie is Need for Speed(2014), and his favorite TV Show is Breaking Bad.

Paul’s Accomplishments

  • 2022 Division 1 Junior Dragster Champion, 13-14 yr old age group.  
  • Atco Dragway Track Champion 2017
  • 10x NHRA Divisional Wally Winner
  • Reached the final 3 cars at the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals in Bristol, TN
  • Runner-Up, Craw’s Racing $2K Event at Atco Dragway 2019
  • Memorial Day Showdown $1500 Winner at Numidia Dragway 2020
  • Independence Day Showdown $2000 Winner at Maple Grove Raceway 2021
  • Mike Bos $5K Runner Up in 64 Car Shootout at Bristol ECF 2021
  • King of the Shore Points Champion and $1K Winner at Delmar, DE 2022
  • Mike Bos $2K Prelude to the Shootout Semi-finalist, Bristol ECF 2022
  • Quarterfinalist at the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals in Bristol, TN
  • 4 Race Win Streak in 2022, including 3 Wallys and a Family Triple-Up

Paul’s Q&A

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

My bucket list contains a very prestigious award that my Dad has been chasing all his life which is the NHRA National World Champion Title. I hope to achieve this because it shows that I am meant to be in the racing scene and that I can prove myself as an amazing racer and compete with the best of the best.

What is your favorite race car, and why?

I think my favorite type of race car is a COPO Camaro. They are just very powerful with the ability to run many different classes with them. The fast ¼ mile times with the power wheelies at the start and the looks of them make them one of my favorite drag cars. 

Who has made the biggest impact on your racing success?

The person who has made the biggest impact on my racing success is my father. He has taught me and still is teaching me everything he knows and what to do while in my race car. Learning directly from him is the best I can ask for as he has many accomplishments in his racing career, and I see him being just as good if not better than many high end drag racers. Without him, I wouldn’t know how to compete against the big names and know what to do in a race car. 

Who do you look up to in the sport?

I look up to multiple people in the sport, not just my father. I look up to the Biondos because of their success in the NHRA racing world and the amount of respect their name has. Their ability to know what their car is doing and have a plan and be on that “kill” mindset all the time is just phenomenal and inspires me to want to be on the same level as them.

Tell us what you do for a living?  

I am a sophomore at Atlantic County Institute of Technology and I am in the Automotive Technology Program. I work at the family business, A.A. Auto Salvage, Inc., on weekends and some days when I am off of school.  

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

My parents support my program for the most part, but we get help from A.A. Auto Salvage, Lucas Oil Products, Hoosier Tire and NGK Spark Plugs. 

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

I hate to see friends, no friend in specific but just friends in general. You don’t want to have to race somebody you know early on in a race. Nobody does, but I have accepted that there are many friends to be made and that yes, it is sucky to race your friends! You must be their enemy from the time you start your car until the time you get back to your trailer.

What’s the hardest part of drag racing? 

I’d say one of the hardest parts of drag racing is to stay on top of everybody else. Being able to be above your opponents every single round is impossible,  there will always be that one person that tries harder than you or just does better than you that round in general.  Many racers call it “the wave” and say they must ride it while they can to stay in their groove and continue to win and succeed as much as they can. 

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

My most embarrassing moment in a race car is a tie between leaving the starting line and accidentally shutting off my car while I had clearly left before the other person and the time I was .005 on the tree to the opponents .095 and I gave back the stripe trying to do too much. 

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

I say to myself to see the bulb on and focus. I breathe and then it is time to start staging.

What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?

I enjoy learning from racing a bit but the most fun I have at a racetrack is when everybody is hanging out having a good time, just being who we are and sharing the hobby we all love and being able to enjoy it together, keeping those memories for years to come. 

Are you superstitious?  If so, what are they?  

I’m not really superstitious but I like to have my routine pre-race and post-race. Such as come back, do my fuel and tires, write down my numbers, do the weather and get set for the next round before I go and goof off with my friends.

Do you love to win or hate to lose?

I love winning more than losing, who doesn’t… but losing teaches you things and get your prepared to win and be successful so as much as I do love winning I don’t mind losing, Sometimes…

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

I am definitely better at the finish line but the starting line isn’t far behind. I feel that I am ahead of the curve with track awareness and what I see while going down the track is just as important as seeing and reading the tree. 

What motivates you to continue racing?

I think making friends, winning, and making a name for myself is what really gets me to keep going. Racing is just so fun and the ability to drive these cars and go super fast while controlling them is just so cool to me. 

If money were no object, what would your racing operation look like?  Car, trailer, class, race schedule, etc.

I think my racing operation would contain a Freightliner Showhauler motorhome with a Gold Rush stacker trailer combining to be 88 feet long. My cars would be 2 Brand new Elite chassis dragsters which are the new Undercovers and it would contain a COPO Camaro and a C7 Corvette roadster. 

How often do you use a practice tree?

I personally don’t use a practice tree often at all, maybe here and there when friends at the track have one out I’ll make a couple hits otherwise not very often.

Where do you spend the most time on the internet?

While on my phone, I spend most of my time on social media just scrolling and seeing trends of today.

What is your favorite sport?  Favorite team?

My favorite sport is Hockey as I used to play when I was younger and my favorite team is the Flyers.

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

I would definitely go out with a crowd more than hangout alone at home

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

I like chicken and dumplings and I also enjoy Lo Mein noodles.

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

I would like to thank my Mom and Dad for everything and anything I do is all because of them.

What is a piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring racer?  

Something I would say to a new racer is to just focus on your routine and never worry about what the person in the other lane is doing. 

For more DragChamp Jr. Spotlights, click here.

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