NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Bellemeur’s 38th win highlights banner weekend for team owner Tony Bartone

Tony Bartone enjoyed one of the most successful weekends of his long career as a driver and team owner last week as he celebrated a pair of wins across two continents in two drastically different forms of motorsports.
02 May 2024
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Sean Bellemeur

Tony Bartone enjoyed one of the most successful weekends of his long career as a driver and team owner last week as he celebrated a pair of wins across two continents in two drastically different forms of motorsports.

Three-time Top Alcohol Funny Car world champion Sean Bellemeur drove to his second consecutive win in a four-wide event when he claimed victory at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Charlotte. It was the 38th win of Bellemeur’s career, matching Bartone’s total as a driver in Top Alcohol Funny Car. He has 42 total, including one in nitro Funny Car and three in Top Alcohol Dragster.

The win came a day after Bartone’s son, Anthony, got the ball rolling when he and teammate Fabian Schiller drove their Mercedes AMG GT3 entry to a victory in the Intercontinental GT Open event at Algarve International Circuit (Portimão) in Portugal. That victory came as the younger Bartone celebrated his 24th birthday.

“What a weekend,” Tony Bartone said. “We competed on two different continents and won on both. My son, Anthony, won the Pro race in the International GT Open on Saturday in Portugal. Then to have Sean and the team back that up by taking our second NHRA 4-Wide Nationals win of the year is all a dad and a team owner can ask for. Sean equaled my 38 NHRA national Top Alcohol Funny Car wins, and I hope he buries me with many more. I am a proud dad and team owner this weekend.”

Bartone was in Portugal to watch his son earn his first victory in GT Open competition during the 70-minute endurance racing event. Despite a six-hour time difference, Bartone was able to closely monitor Bellemeur’s progress in Charlotte, where he claimed his second win in three starts this season.

Bellemeur, with the help of longtime tuner Steve Boggs, made seven competitive runs and finished off the victory with a 5.42 in the final round to hold off a talented quad that also featured D.J. Cox, Bob McCosh, and Matt Gill.

“Two four-wide wins in a row,” said Bellemeur. “By the time they are over, I am kind of glad, but the way we run them, I wish they were all four-wide right now. We seem to have a pretty good strategy going, and I am excited for the rest of the season.
“We were fast off the trailer all thanks to the boys,” Bellemeur said. “Steve Boggs and the guys putting this Pirate Ship together the way they know how. Sometimes it is the underrated and the unnoticed people, like the ones back home, the ones at the shop, everyone who wears the Bartone Bros shirt makes a difference, and this is for them. When you get on a roll, it is not because of just one or two people, it’s everybody.”

Bellemeur won his first event as a member of Bartone’s team in Dallas in 2015 and has won at least one event every year since. The significance of 38 victories isn’t lost on the three-time world champion.
“Tony told me a couple of years ago ‘that you are starting to win a lot.’ If you pass me, you’re fired,” Bellemeur joked. “He has always been supportive, win or lose, which makes this such a great team. It is an honor to be mentioned with the likes of Tony Bartone. It is a dream come true for a boy who watched Alcohol Funny Cars and idolized Tony Bartone as a child. It is an absolute honor to drive his car.
“I want to thank everyone who gets us to the track, especially Tony Bartone. Steve Boggs is a legendary tuner and makes this Pirate Ship sail. The boys, Troy Green, Nick Stoms, Justin Taylor, Garret Bateman, Seth Shebester, and Matt Krebs really put in the work to get us to the winner’s circle.”

 Meanwhile in Portugal, Bartone and Schiller started from the front row and kept their Mercedes at the front of the field. Schiller began the first stint while Bartone drove the final 32 minutes to seal the victory by a comfortable 18-second margin.
“It is my first win in the International GT Open Championship,” the younger Bartone said. “Fabian did a great job in qualifying to get us upfront, and he kept it at the point in the race. A great job by the Getspeed Performance team all week getting the car dialed in for the race through some rainy conditions.”