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Maple Grove's George Case has some ideas
that could revolutionize drag racing

by Dale Wilson

If George Case has his way, class cars like Stockers and Super Stockers could soon be leaving off an instant green Christmas tree start. No staggered yellow bulbs flashing furiously in front of our eyes, no waiting for that split-second third-bulb shine while your slower opponent eats up space in your peripheral vision, no red lights, no late leaves ... but maybe not. Knowing the inherit conservatism in drag racing, Case's idea of an instant green start will probably stay a part of Maple Grove Raceway's (Case is its vice-president and general manager) divisional-type races only. That may not be a bad thing.

Actually, the idea of an instant green start came about last year, through talks between Case, NHRA's northeast division director Bob Lang, and Super Stock Corvette racer Russ Linke, who were all looking for a way to eliminate red light starts in class racing. But there was another reason as well.

"With some of the older guys, there's a thought that some racers may be cheating," Case said. "I don't think they are, but some do, especially with the younger racers, because their reaction times are so much better. (With the instant green start), I'm appeasing my customers, and this is a way to say there's no cheating. Just an instant green and you go"

Under the instant green system, if you red light, you obviously anticipated the start.

Maple Grove Raceway, located in the beautiful rolling hills near Mohnton, Pennsylvania, will host its version of an instant green race during the running of the Coca Cola/Lucas Oil NHRA Drag Racing event over the Memorial Day weekend, in May. The special race, probably to be held on Friday, will be for Stockers and Super Stockers only. The field will be made up of 32 cars each, and each must be pre-entered, for a $100 entry fee. There will be a 100 percent pay back. Super Stock racer Russ Linke will monitor the goings-on for his eliminator racers, and Stock man Rich Hoerth will watch the Stockers.

The starting situation will go thusly: for the special Stock/Super Stock race, the tree will be shaded, and handicaps will be programmed in as they would during a regular race. The only light to shine for "go" will be the green light. Deep staging will be allowed, and the red light will be hooked up and in use. The race's regular Sunday eliminations program will be held as always, with eliminations held in all sportsman classes from Stock on up.

"A lot of these guys have been doing this for 10, 15, 20 years, and this (Stock and Super Stock racing) is their golf game," Case said. "They want to go to the races and set records and hang out with their friends, and they want to have a fair chance. This, they feel, will give them that chance. Plus no one likes to see a red light."

Case is always coming up with such ideas, and most, in my opinion, are cool. Maple Grove was one of the first sites of Bracket Racing USA magazine's ET Challenge, begun by the mag's late editor Steve Collison, and I followed his lead in 1991, when I took over the editorship of BRUSA. I continued it when a big corporation took over BRUSA and killed it and then made it into doomed-from-the-start Drag Racing USA magazine, which was killed in November 2001. Case supported the magazine's efforts so much he even stuck the magazine's name on the springtime race, calling it the BRUSA Spring Bracket Classic.

At the Grove's 2001 Pennsylvania Dutch Classic, held in October for class cars, 560-plus race cars showed up and, as it has for the past four years, the track hosted a special Top 8 race for the Super Streeters, Super Gassers and Super Compers, with the winner of each getting $750. Sunday was the Classic's regular eliminations for all classes.

Case says Maple Grove was the first NHRA track to regularly use the Auto Start system at its "big" races, and now the system is used throughout national events.


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