Maple Grove

FUN FORD event headlines Sept. 12-14 weekend

Friday, Sept. 12 — Auto Locator Fast Friday.

4 p.m. — Gates open.

5-10 p.m. — Heads-up racing and testing. Gambler Race: If a Ford wins, driver receives $100 bonus.

Spectator admission: $10. Entry fee for street-legal cars: $20; $25 for cars on trailers.

Gambler Race entry fee: $25 plus Fast Friday entry fee.

 

Saturday, Sept. 13 — Fords Against The World (all brands welcome) More >

Complete results: Glory Days Nostalgia Drags

Maple Grove Raceway’s annual Glory Days Nostalgia Drags meet was a throwback to drag racing’s wild, colorful early days and included nostalgia drag racing, a car show, oldies music and a swap meet. The event enjoyed strong support from a number of nostalgia-style drag racing organizations. The two-day event concluded on Sunday, June 29, with Nostalgia 1 and Nostalgia 2 class eliminations. More >

Gary Wolkwitz wins $4,000 Penske Truck Leasing Hemi Challenge at Mega MOPAR Action series event

Maple Grove Raceway hosted the annual Mega MOPAR Action series on Sunday, June 22. The daylong event featured all-MOPAR (Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto) drag racing, a car show, swap meet and manufacturers’ midway.

Gary Wolkwitz of Califon, N.J., raced to a $4,000 payday in the Penske Truck Leasin Hemi Challenge. Wolkwitz, driving a 1968 Dodge Dart, defeated Charlie Westcott Jr. of Parma, Mich., in the final round, 8.527 sec./156.19 mph to 8.518 sec./158.82 mph. Seven cars competed in the first round. Wolkwitz defeated Bucky Hess and Westcott singled. Larry Perkins Sr. defeated Jim Pancake and Jim Daniels won over Tyler Hard. Wolkwitz defeated Daniels, last year’s winner, in the second round and Westcott put Perkins on the trailer. More >

Three first-time winners visit victory lane at June 21 Sunoco Race Fuels Money Trail E.T. bracket drag races

Maple Grove Raceway’s victory lane welcomed Elizabeth Pyles, Hunter Zajac and Tom Stahl for the very first time tonight during the Sunoco Race Fuels Money Trail bracket racing series. For Pyles, it was her first-ever NHRA Universal Technical Institute Jr. Dragster victory. For Stahl, his hoodless white Oldsmobile carried him to the final-round win in the Ciccarone Racing Products Pro class. Zajac drove a 2002 Jeep Cherokee to record his first win in the still-new NHRA Jr. Street class.

Pyles, of East Prospect, Pa., defeated Jarrod Kissinger of Sinking Spring, Pa., to record the first final-round victory of her young career.

Stahl defeated Paul Thimm Jr. of Mohnton, Pa., in the Pro final.

Zajac, of Manheim, Pa., defeated Samantha Hess of Mountville, Pa., in the final round of eliminations for the NHRA Jr. Street win. More >

$4,000 awaits winner of Sunday’s Penske Truck Leasing Hemi Challenge

Maple Grove Raceway will host the Mega MOPAR Action series on Sunday, June 22. The daylong event features all-MOPAR (Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto) drag racing, a car show, swap meet and manufacturers’ midway.

The headlining class for Sunday’s Mega MOPAR Action event is the Hemi Challenge. The NHRA-legal class is populated with late-1960s Chrysler products, including Plymouth Barracudas and Dodge Darts. The winner will receive $4,000. The runner-up will earn $2,000, with $500 paid to semi-finalists. Quarter-finalists will receive $250. Entry fee is $75 for car and driver. More >

Jackie Fricke: Living the dream

By John Bisci

 

A young girl named Jackie Rogge used to hang out at Maple Grove Raceway, hanging on the fence, dreaming of the day when she would be the one planted in a Top Alcohol Dragster’s cockpit, hurtling down the quarter mile at speeds in excess of 260 miles per hour.

Sometimes dreams come true.

We caught up with Jackie as she waited for her class to be called for the next round of qualifying at Maple Grove’s NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event in May.

Jackie Fricke: Local girl hits the big time.

“I grew up in Havertown, Pennsylvania, about an hour from here,” said Jackie. She now is called Jackie Fricke, after she married a handsome, successful drag racer and moved to New Jersey. She is the owner of Accelerated Travel in Flemington.

“My father, Rich Rogge, drag races, so I went to my first race when I was five years old. He still races at Maple Grove every weekend. I was here bracket racing a couple of weeks ago and drove his dragster, because I like to keep close with my dad and enjoy family time.

“My entire family is involved in racing. My husband Shawn races and he comes to many of the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events with me. He’s competing this week here in Super Street and Super Comp. I have three sisters who all are married to racers. My youngest sister, Amy, usually comes to all of the NHRA Top Alcohol races with me. She has a Super Comp license, although she stopped racing when she had children, so she hasn’t raced in about 13 or 14 years now. My two nephews and two nieces race Jr. Dragsters.”

As a kid, Jackie spent many a humid summer night at what she considers her home track and found a way to be a part of the scene.

“I used to bug the announcers when Mike Lewis was the manager here. His daughters and I were friends and Mike would let me drive the golf cart. I have vivid memories of driving around this race track when there was a rain delay. My sisters worked here and to give them a break, we’d hand out time slips. Then it graduated to it actually being a job. My oldest sister, Barb, worked here probably 15 or 20 years, doing various things.”

Jackie competed in bracket and Super-class events and was quite good at it. But it wasn’t really where she wanted to be, despite winning $30,000 in purses one year. It all goes back to her dream of driving a Top Alcohol Dragster.

Racing in Las Vegas in 2011. David Allio photo/Iconsportsmedia.com

“I was a kid at the fence. I watched all the match races here. I still have drawings from when I was seven years old. I would draw Top Alcohol Dragsters with my name on them. I just always wanted to run that class. John Finke is my teammate and is very instrumental in my Top Alcohol racing. I probably would have quit long before…these cars are so difficult to drive. They shake and everything happens so fast. You have to learn to ‘pedal’ it at the right time, when you should stay with it and when to abort a run. It’s enjoyable. I’ve had a dream weekend. I started out in testing and went 5.40 and then I pedaled it to a 5.44, which is a good run. It’s just the feel — getting the feel — but things come at you so fast…there’s a big learning curve. John has been a coach, a mentor, a great friend and supporter — everything you can imagine — and a great teammate as well.

So what happens if it comes down to Jackie Fricke versus John Finke in a Top Alcohol final?

“It’s happened before. We ran in the final at his home track at Lebanon Valley (near Albany, N.Y.) last year. It was Father’s Day, his whole family was there. He beat me. He should have. My car owner, Joe Cantrell is from Exton, Pennsylvania, and owns an auto glass business. We’re still looking for our first win — we’ve had two runner-ups so far. And we made it to the semi-finals at the Charlotte nationals a couple of weeks ago. We’ve had a lot of success with the car. Joe and I have been in A-Fuel together for the last two years. Before that I ran a blown (supercharged) car for Joe. For two years before that, I drove for Tom Jones. They weren’t really complete seasons. I would say this is probably what you would call my third full season. This is by far the best car I’ve had. This two-car team — everyone jelled really well. Everybody’s great to work with. They’re very intelligent and they like to have a good time.

“We work out of John’s race shop in Selkirk, New York. We travel up there on the weekends and they’re definitely my second family. We travel a lot. We started out the season testing in Bradenton, Florida. We plan to finish it up in Las Vegas and Pomona at the end of the year. As long as the car’s running well, Joe is giving me the benefit of going to a lot of races — and we always twist his arm to go to a few more that aren’t on our schedule.

It was time to ask the obvious question: “You’re racing in front of the hometown crowd. Many of these people watched you grow up. What’s it like?”

“Amazing. It’s pretty neat,” Fricke admitted. “My mom, who has never watched me go down the track, was here yesterday when I was No. 1, so that was pretty neat.” (In an interview with CompetitionPlus.com, Jackie stated, “When I was a kid, my mom said that we girls would only race over her dead body. I pretty much had to work on her my whole life.”)

As luck would have it, Jackie didn’t win at Maple Grove that weekend in May. Her husband, Shawn, was runner-up in the Super Comp final to Chase Fahnestock.

But no story about a young girl following her dreams would be complete without a happy ending. On June 15, Fricke had a rendezvous with Wally, the coveted NHRA winner’s trophy. At Lebanon Valley — the very same track she finished runner-up at one year ago, Fricke defeated Canada’s Jeff Veale to earn her first Top Alcohol Dragster final.