dixondrags

Maple Grove Raceway is centered around a quarter-mile straight racetrack which features NHRA Drag Racing plus many specialized automotive-oriented events throughout the season; every weekend from April to November. From nostalgia racing, Top Fuel dragsters, and jet-powered vehicles to Street Bike races and Street Legal Grudge racing, Maple Grove has something to offer for almost every type of automobile interest.

Maple Grove Raceway enters its 51st year of continuous operation in 2013. The facility owned by the Stauffer family began operating in 1962. Maple Grove Raceway is the site of many historic drag racing firsts: in 1989 Joe Amato and Shirley Muldowney recorded the first ever side-by-side four-second Top Fuel Dragster runs, the first ever side by side 300 mph T/F passes, and many other of the quickest and fastest runs in NHRA history.  The Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals was held at Maple Grove Raceway beginning in 1985 and was then called the Castrol GTX Keystone NHRA Nationals.

Maple Grove timeline

1923 – Alfred and Edna Stauffer purchase land in Brecknock Township for logging business. As each parcel is cleared, he starts to develop it.

1928 – Maple Grove Park swimming pool opens

1937 – Brecknock Speedway, on the site of present MGR, opens as an oval track. Operated by John Fuzer, the flat, half-mile dirt track features sprint cars and motorcycles.  Motorcycle racer Racer Stanley Witinski won the main event, a 16-lap race in front of “more than 5,000 speed mad spectators.” The track also hosted its first midget car race, on Sept. 12 and Doc Shanabrook, one of the best midget car drivers in the Midwest, attended.

1938 – Brecknock Speedway quickly gained a reputation as one of the best short tracks in the East. A crowd of 5,000 watch as Chuck Buchanan of Birdsboro and George Perluke of Nanticoke narrowly escape from a serious crash.

1939 – Season points champion at Brecknock Speedway wins a gold watch.

1940 – Brecknock Speedway is purchased by Alfred Stauffer.

1942 – Brecknock Speedway closes due to World War II.

Brecknock Speedway, around 1940.

Brecknock Speedway, around 1940.

1957 – Friendship Motorcycle Club receives Stauffer’s permission to run eighth-mile drag races. To cut down on number of rocks kicked up by the motorcycles, Stauffer paves starting line with concrete, a racing first. Strip is built inside of old oval track and runs parallel to Bowmansville Road, about 90 degrees from the today’s track on the spectator side.

1960 – A group of local racers from the Eastern Custom Car Association – including George Weiler, Carl Ruth, Bob Eveland and Lee Crupi – approaches Stauffer about converting track into full dragstrip that can be used by cars.

1962 – Maple Grove Drag-O-Way opens in August. Carved out of the terrain by John and Roy Stauffer, the track is a fifth-mile long and 30 feet wide.

Alfred Stauffer in the early days.

Alfred Stauffer in the early days.

1963 – Track is widened by 10 feet for safety and a dual-lane timer is installed. Alfred Stauffer and other family members visit Cecil Country Dragway for ideas and it’s decided to expand the track again for the ’64 season.

1964 – Bob Eveland leases Maple Grove Dragway and joins the NHRA divisional program. Track is lengthened to 4,000 feet long and 60 feet wide to allow quarter-mile racing. Bob Cassidy hits 180 mph in an AA/Gas Dragster and J.D. Zink runs 225 mph in a jet.

1965 – Lighting is added. Stauffer purchases the diesel power plant used during construction of Baltimore’s Harbor Tunnel for the lights. Stauffer dies in December at 80 while surveying another piece of property. Maple Grove leaves NHRA for NASCAR drag racing sanction.

1968 – Marvin Schwartz makes Top Fuel pass of 6.91 seconds and Ron Rivero hits 204 mph.

1969 – Maple Grove returns to the NHRA and receives one of five Northeast Division World Championship Series events.

1971 – Maple Grove gets its first Northeast Division points meet; First Pennsylvania Dutch Classic and Money Trail season series. Joe and Mike Lewis are named managers. Pit area size doubled for NHRA WCS meet, which draws 425 cars and 6,500 fans.

1972 – NHRA WCS washed out by tropical storm Agnes. Lex Dudas joins MGR staff in place of Joe Lewis. Bob Parmer makes pass of 6.96 in set AA/Fuel Altered national record.

1973 – In a memorable pass, Pat Dakin wins the Top Fuel title in the All-American Pro Series with a holeshot pass of 6.15 seconds that beats Don Garlits, who ran 6.14.

1974 – MGR is named Track of the Year in the NHRA Northeast Division. Local racer Larry Lombardo wins NHRA WCS in Pro Stock.

1975 – MGR wins NHRA Northeast Division Track of the Year award again as Lombardo repeats in the WCS.

1976 – NHRA Northeast Division track operators organize the first ET Finals where drivers from member tracks compete against each other for a team championship. Team Maple Grove took second place in the first Finals at York, Pa. Since then, Team Maple Grove has won 12 championships (the latest in 2010), the most for any track in the nation. At the Pennsylvania Dutch Classic, the legendary “Jungle Jim” Liberman wins the Funny Car title over teammate Roy Harris.

1977 – Top Fuel driver Bob Edwards dies during the semifinals at the Dutch Classic. Raymond Beadle wins the first U.S. Funny Car Nationals.

"Jungle Jim" Liberman and crew at The Grove in the 1970s.

"Jungle Jim" Liberman and crew at The Grove after a race in the 1970s.

1978 – Another close call at the Dutch Classic as Gary Burgin defeats Ed McCulloch (6.14 to 6.15) for the Funny Car title. Paul “Dodger” Glenn dies of injuries suffered during semifinal Funny Car accident at the Winston WCS meet.

1979 – Lex Dudas leaves MGR to become director of the NHRA Southeast Division. Mike Lewis is named general manager. Don Garlits wins the final Dutch Classic Top Fuel championship with a record run of 5.96 seconds. Al Segrini wins the U.S. Funny Car Nationals with a pass of 5.97 that ties the mark set by Don “The Snake” Prudhomme. MGR is again Track of the Year in the Northeast Division.

1980 – Maple Grove Dragway, Inc., becomes a separate operating corporation, Mike Lewis is named president.

1981 – Electronic scoreboards are installed and Budweiser sponsors new NHRA Eastern Regional event. Dick LaHaie, Gary Burgin and Frank Iaconio win regional titles before 20,000.

1982 – NHRA Regional is discontinued, so Maple Grove and Budweiser revive the Super Stock Nationals as one of two NHRA Pro Bonus events. Winners of the event include Joe Amato (Top Fuel), Dale Pulde (Funny Car) and Frank Iaconio (Pro Stock). Track pioneer Carl Ruth wins in Top Alcohol Funny Car. Event draws three-day crowd of 25,000. Connie Kalitta runs an ET of 5.61 on new track surface to provisionally break don Garlits’ NHRA Top Fuel record of 5.63 set in 1975, but it wasn’t official because he couldn’t back it up. Maple Grove is named NED Track of the Year.

1983 – Winston and MGR agree to build a VIP building and a reserved seat grandstand. Amato and Iaconio repeat as Super Stock Nationals winners, while Frank Hawley wins in Funny Car. MGR is again Track of the Year in the Northeast Division.

1984 – NHRA awards MGR a national event in 1985. Rain forces postponement of Super Stock Nationals and another storm moves the Top Fuel and Funny Car finals to Englishtown, which are won by Connie Kalitta and Dale Pulde, respectively. Sportsman finals are finished at MGR two weeks later with Bill Walsh setting an NHRA record in Top Alcohol Dragster with a run of 6.33 and Fred Mandoline does the same in Alcohol Funny Car with a 6.32. More than 15,000 attend Super Chevy Sunday. Team Maple Grove wins first ET Finals championship. MGR is again Track of the Year in the Northeast Division.

1985 – First NHRA Nationals; winners of the inaugural event were Don Garlits (Top Fuel), Tim Grose (Funny Car) and Bruce Allen (Pro Stock). Facility improvements are made, including a second reserved-seat grandstand, expansion of the pit area and 2,000 feet of fence to speed traffic flow. MGR is again Track of the Year in the Northeast Division.

Don Garlits, first Top Fuel winner of the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove in 1985.

Don Garlits, first Top Fuel winner of the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove in 1985.

1986 – MGR is again Track of the Year in the Northeast Division.

1987 – MGR is again Track of the Year in the Northeast Division.

1989 – Mike Lewis leaves MGR to take a position with NHRA, George Case is promoted to vice president/general manager. The $1 million expansion program is completed with the opening of the VIP Hospitality tower, new grandstands and track lighting system. A Compulink timing and scoring system is installed. First side-by-side four-second Top Fuel pass is accomplished by Joe Amato and Shirely Muldowney at the NHRA Keystone Nationals.

1990 – To raise money for Darrell Gwynn’s medical bills after the racer is paralyzed in an accident, a benefit softball game is held between drivers from the NHRA and NASCAR at Reading’s FirstEngergy Stadium. Over 13,000 crowd the ballpark and $150,000 is raised.

Darrell Gwynn throws out the first pitch at the benefit softball game in 1990.

Darrell Gwynn throws out the first pitch at the benefit softball game in 1990.

1991 – New return road that brings racers directly into the pits is complete as is a 3,200-foot concrete guardwall down the length of the track. Electronic scale is added.

1992 – MGR celebrates 30th anniversary. Retaining wall behind the starting line is completed. Cory McClenathan is first Top Fuel driver to complete run in 4.7 seconds at NHRA Nationals.

1993 – MGR is again Track of the Year in the Northeast Division.

1994 – Mike Dunn and Blaine Johnson make first side-by-side Top Fuel pass in which both drivers eclipse 300 miles per hour at NHRA Nationals.

1995 – Team Maple Grove wins fifth ET Finals championship.

1996 –In the first Pro Stock Bike race at the NHRA Nationals, Angelle Sampey sets a national record with a pass of 7.373 seconds.

1997 – MGR celebrates 35th anniversary.

1999 – Lighting is improved in shutdown area.

2001 – Because of Sept. 11 attacks, NHRA Nationals are moved to October. MGR wins NED Track of the Year.

2002 – MGR celebrates 40th anniversary. First Geezers Reunion, which features nostalgia race cars, is held. Lucas Oil takes over sponsorship of the NHRA Nationals.

2003 – Due to hurricane-like weather, NHRA Nationals are moved from September to October.

2004 – New food court area is constructed, including a beer garden.

2005 – Toyo Tires takes over as sponsor for NHRA Nationals.

2007 – MGR celebrates 45th anniversary. The NHRA Nationals isn’t completed until Wednesday because of persistent rains. Sticking around to win are Doug Herbert (Top Fuel), Tony Pedregon (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Matt Guidera (Pro Stock Bike).

2008 – Lex Dudas is named vice president/general manager and Mark Dawson joins staff as director of racing operations. Timing system is upgraded to Compulink fiber optics and new LED scoreboards are installed. The Alfred Stauffer Memorial Walk of Fame and Victory Lane are constructed behind the pitside grandstands. Team Maple Grove wins 10th ET Finals championships.

2009 – Track is extended to 4,075 feet making it one of the 10 longest in the nation; 300 feet of pavement was added, along with a 250-foot sandtrap. Part of track that crosses Kachel Road at the end is aligned with the pavement.

Matt Hagan set a national Funny Car time record in 2010.

Matt Hagan set a national Funny Car time record During the Nationals in 2010.

2010 – Track opens a month later with a new surface, including an extension of the concrete launch pad to 820 feet. Several track records fall during the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, including a national mark of 4.011 in Funny Car by Matt Hagan. Mark Dawson leaves to become director of racing operations at Auto Club Dragway in California, Anthony Winchester is promoted to track manager. Team Maple Grove wins unprecedented 12th Summit Racing ET Finals championship and fourth NHRA Junior Dragster Eastern Conference championship. Over $48,000 is raised for Darrell Gwynn Foundation as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the benefit softball game. Track walk is held. Maple Grove is named NHRA Northeast Division Track of the Year for the 12th time.

2011 – Auto-Plus takes over sponsorship of the Nationals. The 27th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals features two National records: Del Worsham, Top Fuel ET 3.735 and Jason Line Pro Stock ET 6.477. Worsham’s record pass came in a losing effort to Spencer Massey in the final of eliminations.

2012 – Maple Grove celebrates 50th anniversary with Anniversary Spectacular on June 23 with several dignitaries including grand marshal Don “The Snake” Prudhomme. Race features bracket cars, jet cars and Nostalgia Funny Cars, however Bob Motz’s jet truck steals the show. Four National records are set at the 28th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Natonals: Antron Brown, Top Fuel E.T. 3.701; Jack Beckman, Funny Car E.T. 3.986 and miles-per-hour 320.58; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle E.T. 6.728.

2013 – Team Maple Grove wins 13th Summit Racing ET finals championship. The Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals features three great days of sunny weather and fans pack the stands each day.