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
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