From Left to Right: Bill Carroll, Kyle Gockley, Paul Thimm Jr., Hunter Zajac, Brandon Wentzel, CJ Ketterer, Phil Feger, CJ Ungaro, Jeff Neatock, Harry Gerb, Scott Smith
MOHNTON, Pa- Over 300 of Maple Grove Raceway’s racers, families, sponsors and staff congregated together February 4th to celebrate another season of success. The ballroom at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading hosted the 54th Annual Awards Banquet.
Guests in attendance experienced a night full of entertainment from socializing during cocktail hour through dancing with friends to close out the night.
In his opening remarks, master of ceremonies, Andy Anderson, stated there has been a total of over $600,000 in cash and awards presented to Money Trail racers since 2000, making Maple Grove Raceway’s racer incentive programs one of the highest paying of its type in all of drag racing!
Anderson also announced the sponsors for the 2017 Sunoco Race Fuels Money Trail ET Bracket Series and EFI Source Northeast Index Racers Series at the Grove. Sunoco will return as the overall sponsor for the Money Trail ET Bracket Series along with Scott’s Transmission, ATI Performance Products, P.C. Richard & Son and Reading Standard Motorsports as class sponsors. EFI Source will return as the title sponsor for the Index Series along with class sponsor Boccella’s Performance & Auto and S & W Race Cars. Four new sponsors signed on to join the Index Series family of sponsors for 2017. They are Black Horse Auto Body Supply, BRK Racing, H & J Motorsports Warehouse and SRS Fitness.
From Left to Right: Bill Carroll, Kyle Gockley, Paul Thimm Jr., Hunter Zajac, Brandon Wentzel, CJ Ketterer
Weekly Maple Grove Raceway Announcer, Roger Leister, presented the awards to the top five finishers in Top Bike. Kyle Gockley of Mohnton, finished the season with 406 points, being named champion over second place finisher Jeffrey Santin and third place finisher Derek Cesari.
Laureldale native, Brandon Wentzel drove to a championship in the P.C. Richard & Son Street class with 499 points. Just 42 points above second place finisher Paul Werner. Werner was the Street Champion in 2015 when he claimed his 11th career Money Trail Championship.
In the ATI Performance Products Pro class, Paul Thimm Jr. of Mohnton earned the championship with 474 points. Thimm Jr. was also the winner of the ET Golf Cart Shootout when he raced his way to winning a brand new golf cart courtesy of D&G Golf Carts, Potty Queen, P.C. Richard & Son and Awesome Vinyl. Second place finisher and ET Bracket Finals winner in Street, David Sciarretta along with third place finisher Dan Smith continued to fight until the last race.
Scott’s Transmission Owner, Scott Richenbach presented the awards to the top ten drivers in Super. Bill Carroll of Pottstown, persevered through a rocky season to claim the championship. Carroll held off second place finisher Willard Pusey Jr. and third place finisher Shayne Beck.
The top ten finishers in the Junior Dragster class were recognized for an outstanding performance throughout the season. Special consideration was given to Chris Smolenski for his 14-15 year old age group Junior Drag Racing League (JDRL) Division Championship at Mason Dixon Dragway in August. Roger Leister also made mention to congratulate the juniors for their JDRL Team Championship during the divisional race. CJ Ketterer from Sellersville held off his older brother Jeremy Ketterer for the championship. CJ started the season strong with four consecutive race wins. The juniors decided to steal the show when they received their awards. Each of the racers stood on stage to say a few lines and how they wish they could be like CJ. After their speeches, former junior dragster racer at Maple Grove Raceway, Private Gabby Walliegh came on the video screen to congratulate CJ on his championship and announce she will return in 2017.
New for the 2016 season was the Junior Street class. The top five finishers in Junior Street were awarded for an impressive and ground breaking season. These racers held their own this year and were recognized for their hard work. Hunter Zajac of Manheim won numerous races this year to claim the championship with 431 points. He held off second place finisher Luke Karol and third place finisher Ian Bechtel.
Index Series founding father, Bill Cohen took the stage to announce the EFI Source Northeast Index Racers Series at the Grove top three finishers in each of the five classes. Mike Tomaszewski of EFI Source presented the racers with their awards.
From Left to Right: CJ Ungaro, Jeff Neatock, Scott Smith, Phil Feger, Harry Gerb
Croydon native, Harry Gerb raced to a Championship in the Boccella’s Auto and Performance 8.50 Index class with 126 points. Second place finisher Luis Martinez and third place finisher Ron Riegel also had an exciting season this year.
In the 10.0 Index class, CJ Ungaro of Langhorne, earned the Championship with 169 points. Second place finisher Maurice (Mo) Bolduc and third place finisher Wayne Roatche continued to fight for that championship until the last race.
Scott Smith of Birdsboro, finished the season with 227 points, being named 11.50 Index Champion over second place finisher Jake Knarr and third place finisher Kelli Witkowski. In the 12.50 Index class it was Reading native, Phil Feger who held off LeeAnn Ormsbee and Ted Meyle for the Championship.
Jeff Neatock of Mohnton, took home the Championship in the S&W Perfomance Pro Dial class over second place finisher John Nugent and third place finisher Bryan Kershner.
Lex Dudas, Maple Grove General Manager/ Vice- President presented Ed Foley and Bruce Hazelton with Ambassador Appreciation Awards for all their support over the years. Greg Whedebee was presented with the Alfred S. Stauffer Memorial Award for his continued dedication to his work and influence at Maple Grove.
Dudas also presented two of Maple Grove Raceway’s employees with their Five Year Club jackets for their service to the track for five or more years. Billy Kleinspehn and Jake Green can be seen either on the start line or in tech each week.
Lex Dudas also took the opportunity to announce a new and exciting development to the Money Trail program. Beginning in the 2017 season, Maple Grove Raceway will be running a new points series called Top Challenge specifically, for Top Sportsman and Top Dragster. This is an amazing opportunity to expand the Money Trail program to encompass more forms of racing. That now means the Money Trail program umbrellas over the Sunoco ET Bracket Series, the EFI Source Northeast Index Racers Series at the Grove, and now the Top Challenge. More information regarding the specific details of the new program are set to be announced soon.
Mike Lewis, President of Maple Grove Raceway took the stage to recognize each of the three 2016 Walk of Fame inductees. Founder of ATI Performance, Jim Beattie, Top Fuel racer Sarge Arcerio and Jet Dragster and Funny Car racer Al Hanna bring the total to 85 individuals to join the Walk of Fame since its inception in 2004. All three of these men have made or continue to make significant contributions to Maple Grove Raceway. Lewis went on to celebrate 50 years of the Funny Car by talking about Jungle Jim who was one of the top 50 funny car drivers in NHRA.
Andy Anderson, then announced the Safeco Insurance Best Appearing Car for 2016. The three nominees were Don Mattson, Mike Nessinger and Sean Kershner. As voted it was Don Mattson who claims the rights of being the Overall Best Appearing Car for 2016.
Andy Anderson concluded the evening with balloted awards voted by the 2016 Money Trail members. Drivers were selected from each class of the Sunoco Race Fuels ET Series and recognized as Tree Sniper, Finish line magician and Ticket Printer for the 2016 season. The results were, Super Tree Sniper — Will Pusey, Finish Line Magician — Bill Carroll, Ticket Printer — Kevin Robb, Pro Tree Sniper — Dan Smith, Finish Line Magician — Erin Thimm, Ticket Printer — Paul Thimm Jr, Street Tree Sniper – Paul Werner, Finish Line Magician — Brandon Wentzel, Ticket Printer — Bob Ormsbee, Bike Tree Sniper — Bruce Gockley, Finish Line Magician — Jeffrey Santin, Ticket Printer — Kyle Gockley, Junior Tree Sniper — Katlynn Hoffman, Finish Line Magician — Jeremy Ketterer, Ticket Printer — CJ Ketterer. Other awards were, Wrench of the Year — Dave Werner, Breakout Season — Kayleen Hums, Leading Lady — Traci Witkowski, Kingpin — Paul Thimm Jr.
The 2017 Money Trail Racer’s Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, February 26th at the Inn at Reading Hotel. The meeting for drivers participating in Super, Pro, Street and Top Bike is set for 10 AM. Racers in Junior Dragster and Junior Street meet at noon. All other racers competing in the Index Series (8.50, 10.0, 11.50, 12.50 and Pro Dial) classes meet upon the completion of the junior meeting.
Entering its 55th consecutive season in 2017, Maple Grove Raceway once again will host a full season of championship racing events. The Dodge NHRA Nationals, part of the NHRA Mello Yello Series Countdown to the Championship return to Maple Grove Raceway September 21st -24th.