“It is exciting to get our second championship. They both mean a lot to me, but they are also very different,” Maroney said.
And what a difference those two championships really are.
Maroney won his first IHRA championship during the inaugural season of the Nitro Altered class in competition with the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series back in 2011 as the hired gun in the legendary “Nanook” Altered campaigned by the Hough family out of Las Vegas. This time around, however, Maroney clinched the championship driving his own car, the “Blind Faith” entry, completely owned and operated by him and his family.
And it is that personal touch that made the second championship just a little more special.
“I love the Hough family to death. They gave me that opportunity to drive the ‘Nanook’ car, a car that I grew up idolizing, to win a championship,” Maroney said. “Now, to win it in my own car, a car that my wife and I own 100 percent, that is really special. It was an amazing year for us in this car."
And what a season it was for Maroney and the “Blind Faith” team.
After a rather slow start to the year with zero final round appearances in the first three points races, Maroney blasted onto the scene with a win at the IHRA Spring Nationals at historic Rockingham Dragway back in May. After that slow start, Maroney then went on to record four final round appearances in the next five races, with wins in Rockingham, Grand Bend, Ontario and the championship-sealing victory in Martin, Michigan.
With three wins in four final round appearances, Maroney was able to cruise to a comfortable 212-point margin over championship runner-up Don Blackshear in the “Bullet Bob” Altered. Blackshear finished with two victories in 2014, giving car owners Bob and Cathie Floch wins in both Nitro Funny Car and Nitro Altered over the past five seasons.
Mike Hilsabeck finished third in the “Arizona Thunder” machine with one victory, followed by Kyle Hough in “Nanook” and Ron Hope in "Rat Trap." Nine different drivers visited a final round in Nitro Altered this season, including cousins Ron and Jim Maroney and the father and son duo of Ron and Brian Hope.
Since the class debuted with the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series back in 2011, Maroney has a class-leading 16 wins to go along with his two championships.
“The past four years have been really special for myself and the rest of the guys out here racing,” Maroney said. “IHRA gave us a great place to race and it was our goal each and every weekend to go out there and put on a great show for these fans."
In all, it was a tremendous season for the Nitro Altered category as the drivers continued to put on a show in the wild, extremely unpredictable class. From a number of wall-banging runs, to crazy side-by-side racing and even the return of the fire burnout, perfected by Ron Hope in the world famous “Rat Trap” machine, the Nitro Altered class was once again celebrated by the fans and teams.
“It was a great year, but it was a year that really showed what these Altereds are all about. We could go out and run 6.20s on one pass, then the next pass we are taking out cones while other guys are hitting the wall. Then we come back and runs 6.30s right down the center,” Maroney said. “You just never know what these things are going to do. Sometimes they go straight as an arrow and sometimes you are just along for the ride. That is why we love these cars and that is why we will continue showing people what this class is all about."