Dagsboro drag-racer Benston ranked 8th nationally by NHRA

Dagsboro dragracer Matt Benston Jr. works on the engine for his drag-racing car in his shop in Dagsboro.

Coastal Point • Susan Taylor-Walls

Two weeks ago, Dagsboro drag-racer Mark Benston Jr., who is currently ranked eighth nationally, blistered the quarter-mile drag strip at Capitol Raceway in Crofton, Md., in 3.96 seconds, reaching 197 mph. It was Benston Jr.’s fastest slip of his inaugural season in a car capable of reaching that speed.

However, his success came with a hefty price — a blown $20,000 motor. Fortunately for Mark, he and his father, Mark  Benston Sr., own an engine shop in Dagsboro that builds motors for many of the top local teams, as well as for themselves.

“We do everything here that you could do for an engine, except for turning cranks,” said the 26-year-old rookie drag-racer. “We send out to get that done.”

The car Benston drives belongs to one of their longtime engine customers, Harry “Buck” Jarvis, who owns North Star Racing. Jarvis retired from drag-racing last year and asked Mark if he wanted to try driving the car that stands out because of the $100 bills lacquered on the bodywork.

Benston began his career racing karts at Club Milton in Milton and at Mardela Speedway at Mardela Springs Raceway. In addition to kart racing, he began piloting Junior Dragster cars.

“He won every championship Junior Dragster has,” Jarvis said of his young driver. “I retired from racing after last season, and I told him if he wanted to drive the car, I’d pay for it.”

While it’s rare that an engine-builder drives the car, because of the different skills each talent requires, nevertheless Mark jumped at the chance to race the car and follow in his father’s tire tracks. So far, he’s been doing that with great success for a rookie, reaching eighth nationally in the Outlaw 10.5 class.

Basically, weighing just under 3,000 pounds, 10.5 cars have turbo-powered motors capable of producing 3,000 to 4,000 horsepower, depending on the size and weight of the turbo.

Benston and his North Star Racing team have been racing around the region all season long.

“We race at Cecil County in Maryland, Potomac Speedway Dragway in Mechanicsville, Md., and Virginia Motorsports Park, and locally at U.S. 13 Dragway in Delmar,” Benston explained.

“I’ve been working at the shop with my dad full-time since graduating from Sussex Tech in 2011,” he noted.

On Wednesday, Aug. 29, (after Coastal Point press time), Mark and his North Star Racing team were set to compete in a night of Street Outlaws. On the bill for that event were Benston, Steve Drummond, Dale Collins Jr. and Wayne Patton. Also on the bill were Shawn “The Mistress,” “Barefoot” Ronnie Pace and “Quick Silver” Barry Nicholson.

A full report on that race will appear in our Sept. 7 issue.

By Bruce C. Walls
Special to the Coastal Point