To commemorate the 50th anniversary of continuous operation, the staff and management of Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa. threw an enormous birthday bash for the fans the only way they can: by holding a very special drag race with some of the cars and stars that made Maple Grove famous through the decades. The special lineup included Grand Marshal Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Raymond Beadle, Frank Hawley of Chi-Town Hustler fame, and NHRA announcer Bob Frey.
The racing portion of the event featured eight nitro Nostalgia Funny Cars, seven alcohol Nostalgia Funny Cars, five jet cars, Danny O’Day’s Superwinch wheelstander, and three bracket racing classes. The nitro lineup saw the likes of Dale
Pulde driving his War Eagle Trans Am, Ronnie Young in the Beadle & Young Blue Max Plymouth Arrow, Jon Capps in the Jungle Jim Vega, Peter Gallen’s Poverty Stricken Monza, Jake Crimmins in the Crazzzzy Jake Omni, Frank Hawley driving Troy Martin’s Chi-Town Hustler Dodge, Mike Lewis in the Brand X Mustang, and Chad Head driving his father Jim’s 2012 March Meet-winning Trans Am.
During opening ceremonies, Maple Grove honored five individuals by naming them to the 2012 Maple Grove Walk of Fame: Prudhomme, Beadle, Pulde, Hawley, and the Eastern Custom Car Association.
Each helped form a strong bond with fans and was instrumental in the building of Maple Grove Raceway into the facility it is today. Surviving members of the ECCA — Carl Ruth, Ernie Musser, George Weiler and Lee Crupi — were on hand. The group was being honored for its contributions in helping Alfred Stauffer build Maple Grove Park Drag-O-Way in 1962. “The Snake” then brought out the “Snake’s Top 25” car show winners, and presented each owner with a commemorative plaque for the event.
With the opening festivities complete and sunset drawing nearer, it was time to bring the nitro-burners to life and make some noise as the cackling Nitro Funny Cars led off the show. In the opening stanza, Crazy Jake outran a troubled Jon Capps. Crimmins used a 6.04 at 231 mph run to defeat Capps, who trailed at 6.642. In the second pair, Hawley in the Chi-Town Hustler developed trouble, running only a 7.158, while opposite of him, Mike Lewis (former track manager at Maple Grove and currently General Manager) ran a quicker 6.646/210 mph.
The final pair of the first round was the best contest of the round, with previous track elapsed time and speed record holder Peter Gallen going against the legendary Dale Pulde. Gallen took the win with a strong 5.933-second pass, with Pulde registering a 6.080 at 224.70. The event was run Chicago-style, which
pairs the two lowest ETs (win or lose) of the first round in a winner-take-all showdown the 50th anniversary title. Based on their elapsed times in that opening round, Head and Gallen would run for all the marbles, and a really cool trophy.
Following the nitro cars were the likewise-exciting alcohol-burning Funny Cars, of which the lineup included Scott Ringwood, , Chris Massarella in the xxx Monza, Rod Fazekas in the Custom Body Dodge, Rob Rosetty in his ’71 Pinto, Jon Wall in his ’77 Pinto, and Mike Hall in Rosetty’s Tweety’s Rat Vega. Round one action kicked off with Ron Huegli getting the win over Fazekas by a 7.09 to 7.79 count. Rosetty scored next, with a winning but off-pace 8.36, while opponent Jon Wall crossed the centerline and his 12.14-second run was DQ’ed. Ringwood laid down low elapsed time for the alky funnies next with a great 6.902 at 190 mph pass. His opponent, Mike Hall, was shut off on the line with a cracked fuel tank. Closing out the round, Chris Massarella posted a 7.36 that placed him in the No. 3 slot, and out of the running for the evening’s title bout. Ringwood and Huegli would square off later in the evening for the alcohol portion of the show.
Maple Grove also booked in five quality jet cars for the celebration with Hanna Motorsports fielding Top Secret, driven by Ken Hall, and the GOJO Firebird driven by Rich Hanna. Also on hand were the two jet dragsters from K.C. Jones’ Team Steam jet locomotives, and Danny O’Day’s wheel standing Superwinch machine that carried the wheels the entire quarter mile. The final exhibition entry was the Marcellus & Borsch Winged Express. Mike Boyd didn’t disappoint the fans with two great runs from the legendary Fuel Altered.
Round two of the alky action started with a great race between Massarella and Wall, as Massarella scored a close 7.30 win over Wall’s 7.37. Rod Fazekas ran a slowing 8.20 on his bye run; Bob Rosetty ran an 8.00 to defeat the centerline-crossing Time Bomb Vega. With all the marbles on the line, the alky championship was another close race, as Ron Huegli scored the title with a 6.779-second winner, besting Ringwood’s valiant 6.873 at 205 mph pass.
Lewis would score low ET and the only five-second run during the round. Next was Hawley versus Young, with Hawley taking out the Blue Max by a 6.09 to 7.73 count. Dale Pulde’s War Eagle bested Crazy Jake, 6.07 at 217 to 7.559 at 121. All that was left was the 50thAnniversary Spectacular Championship. Chad Head didn’t match his pace from round one, but his 6.648 easily covered Gallen’s slowing 8.18 effort. The event was only the third time Head has driven his father, Jim Head’s car in competition.
Unfortunately, due to the impending track curfew, the Super and Pro categories didn’t crown a champion, but the Jr. Dragster winner was Eddie McBride over Brittany Boltz.
For the grand finale, Maple Grove management asked Bob Motz to end the show following the jet Funny Cars and Jet Dragsters with his own special mark on the evening. Motz’ Jet Kenworth truck did only as he can do, and literally burned the staging lane billboards that line the back wall at Maple Grove while the fireworks show began.
CHECK OUT THE PHOTO GALLERY AFTER THE JUMP