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Jun 28, 2012

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A Perfect Drag Racing Weekend

By Ted Pappacena

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All drag racing fans can describe "The Perfect Drag Racing Weekend." We all have our favorites. One of my top five Perfect Drag Racing Weekends revolves around Saturday June 23, 2012: Maple Grove Raceway's 50th Anniversary Celebration. It was a bit imperfect on Friday on my way to the Warpath Wigwam in south Jersey. I took the day off to go to John Cerchio's place so we all (John, Patty, and I) could get an early start on Saturday.

Tiki Warrior burnout

Jungle Jim Vega burnout

Friday was sunny and hot, and my normal two plus hour journey turned out to be a traffic nightmare. Two hours to get to the VNB (as opposed to two hours door to door from John's house Sunday morning). Another half hour in Staten Island and I finally arrived a little ahead of major thunderstorm activity around 1:30 PM. From the minute I got inside to the minute we hit the hay, it was nonstop bench racing.

Ray Beadle, Henry Gutierrez, Don Prudhomme, and Paul Smith

Chad Head burnout

Saturday morning greeted us with sunny skies. After a modest breakfast, John, Patty, and I loaded up the car and left for Maple Grove around 9 AM. We arrived at the track at 11:30. I headed to the tower for my wristband so I could shoot the festivities and then we headed out to see everyone. Where to go first? Well, I brought a bunch of Snake, Blue Max, Pulde, Hawley, and Winged Express photos to get signed. I had heard that Prudhomme was sitting with Beadle at the Blue Max pit so I headed there. I managed to get all my Prudhomme and Beadle photos signed and since Pulde was right next door, he signed a bunch of photos as well. By the way, it's great to see him up and about since his bad bout with Valley Fever.

Mickey Thompson's Grand Am

Chi-Town Hustler burnout

I started roaming around and met Dale Emery. I then headed over to the Texas Jungle camp. The new JJ Vega is killer. I had a nice chat with Henry and Jon then went to meet Troy Martin and see the Chi Town Charger. I met Troy and 3rd Generation and took a slew of pix. I then bumped into Pat Welsh and Big Bob and shot the breeze with them. From there it was a whirlwind of meeting old friends: Rosetty, Rocky Pirrone, Pam, Silly Bee, Bill "Drag List" Pratt (who introduced me to Dale Thierer), Jack "JA Approved" Redd, Jim Amos, Geoff Stunkard, Steve Bell, Dave Milcarek, Dave De Angelis, Jeff Unfried... the list goes on. I got to meet Ron "Tiki" Huegli as well as a ton of other great people. (If I left anyone out, I'm sorry). From the time I got there to the beginning of festivities, time just flew.

Funny Farmer burnout

Mousie Marcellus

After Legend introductions with Prudhomme, Beadle, Pulde, and Hawley, racing got under way. First up were the eight nitro cars, including Jon Capps in the Texas Jungle Vega, Mike Lewis in the Brand X Mustang, Dale Pulde in the War Eagle Trans Am, Frank Hawley in the Chi Town Hustler Charger, Crazzzy Jake Crimmons, the Blue Max Arrow, Chad Head's Trans Am, and Peter Gallen's Poverty Stricken Monza. The nitro round went pretty much without incident but didn't Hawley lay down a sweet burnout in the Charger? Since it was Chicago Style, the two low ETs -- Chad Head and Peter Gallen -- met in the final with Head taking all the dough.

Poverty Stricken

Winged Express burnout

Next up were eight Alky F/Cs, including the awesome burnout king, Ron Huegli's Tiki Warrior Monza, Chris Masserella's Total Insanity Monza, Rocky Pirrone's Screaming Eagle T/A, the Eastern Raider Mustang, John Wall's newly painted yet original body Fireball Monza, Scott Ringwood's killer Vette, Bob Rosetty's Funny Farmer Pinto (stunning!), and the Tweety's Rat Vega (driven by Mike Hall). The alky cars did manage to knock around some foam timing lights. Jon Wall ironically headed straight for the side concrete wall, and right where I was standing, too. That got my attention for sure. The two low ETs of the round went to the Tiki Warrior and the Mascott Racing Vette with the Tiki Man taking all the marbles.

Danny O'Day puts 'em up

Mascot Racing burnout

Next up was one of my all time favorites: The Winged Express with Mike Boyd at the helm. It was only the second time I've seen it in action and the Wing does not disappoint! In fact, the nighttime run was a typical lane switching affair. The show rounded out with Danny O'Day's Superwinch wheelstander, the Cannonball Express and Chattanooga Choo Choo jet dragsters, Al Hanna's jet funny cars, and Bob Motz's incredible jet Kenworth Semi. What a fire show! After Motz finished the show, we were treated to a some nice fireworks.

Bob Motz in all his glory

After more bench racing, we hopped in John's car and rolled into the Wigwam around 1:30 AM and went straight to bed. Sunday brought more sunny skies and around 9 AM I bid John and Patty a fond farewell. Mr. Garmin told me I'd be home at 11 AM and darned if he wasn't correct!

Ted Pappacena


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