2012 ADRL Northeast Drags Presented By Penske Maple Grove | ADRL Pro Extreme Review
An Outsiders View Of A Spectacular Race
By goDragRacing.org: Post Date: 5/12/2012 | Photos Courtesy Of Axle Weiss - goDragRacing.org - Seth Cohen - Roger Richards
Readers of this website may be wondering why the author has changed for this entry as goDragRacing.org and not the usual from our "Hagerstown Hero" Camp Stanley wordsmith; the answer is simple. As a guest of Stanley Weiss racing I was delegated by Camp Stanley and Axle Weiss to write a review of the ADRL Northeast Drags II presented by Penske at Maple Grove Raceway this past May as a true outsider after the race concluded.
When I say outsider, I'm as much a fan and spectator as I am a writer and photographer. I may have had one of the best seats in the house being on the track, yet I would've been just as comfortable in the stands during this event as the ADRL comes to PA. but once a year.
2012 ADRL Maple Grove Drag Racing Photo Gallery by goDragRacing.org | ADRL Communications Here
Most people know me as a true northeast quarter mile only type of guy, and somewhat of a non-believer in 1/8th mile drag racing feeling that nothing could sway me until last year for my first ever ADRL event where I was blown away by the level of competition, the absolute violent nature of these machines and tenacity of the teams. You could say I'm now a believer.
Not to downplay any other organizations or associations across the United States, I feel I witnessed something at the Northeast Drags last year that I don't get to see often in our area. I simply wanted more and again this year, I got it.
You may also be wondering why this review is seemingly late in posting. Too many times I've seen races quickly forgotten only to move on to the next event as if it was just another race in passing, I'm not one that handles the immediate media gratification well with all this new technology so I leave it linger like the unforgettable taste of twenty year old scotch.
I arrived Thursday afternoon with a quick trip up the Pennsylvania Turnpike after a sleepless night before that just waiting to get to Maple Grove. You notice immediately the well-manicured track and the sprawling mountainous view, breathtaking in the spring and knowing soon the Valley would be rocked hard by the sound of unbridled horsepower.
Needing my credentials, I was greeted by Josh Hatchet, "Director of Media and Communications" and two lovely ladies who immediately made me feel welcome as if I was someone special.
Without haste, I promptly made my way to the "good ole boys" pit area of Stanley & Weiss racing. The car had already been warmed up and the team was winding down for the night.
Of course I can't sit still for a moment under these circumstances so I perused the pits and found every racer I talked to simply down to earth inviting. I spent another sleepless night walking the pits and the track in the dark, understanding full well that there was going to be some serious horsepower igniting at daybreak.
Sunrise came, the team breakfast was served and I was off to the track for first qualifiers to begin shooting. I thought being hobbled by a bum leg would hinder the images I wanted to capture, not to my surprise the action came to me after the first cars made their passes so I felt somewhat unburdened now.
My whole mission was again to do justice with photography to all the racers who participated as the impression was made on me at the inaugural Maple Grove event.
Having this as the first race of the year for me to shoot, I was humbled by the amount of talented photographers and photo journalists lining the sidelines.
By now you've already seen their work and read their articles, a tough act to follow for sure.
First round of qualifying was impressive, watching each team try to get a handle on another track that they had to visit this year.
ADRL track prep is second to none, they give you the hook you need and it can be a struggle at times, yet all probably found the baseline with just that one pass.
I know the first round took its toll my host John Stanley in Pro Extreme as the car reached the top end in a burst of smoke and fire poured out of the hood; it looked like it would be a devastating wound.
Later I would find after returning to the pits that it was a failure in the blower manifold, a large hole had been created between it and the lifter galley the size of a soft ball. After pulling this mass of magnesium it was most likely a weld inside allowed the stress crack to form.
I personally had never seen a manifold that damaged yet to the crew; it was just another problem to overcome which they did without haste. A new manifold in place, two new burst panels and both heads were removed and repaired since a nicked valve was also found.
With the catastrophic burst panel explosion, the BRAND NEW Tim McAmis Race Cars lightweight front end suffered a bit of damage that was quickly repaired by the on-site Tim McAmis Race Cars staff looking like it never happened. Upon firing the beast up again, a fuel leak was found as the manifold would not seat completely. The process of removing the blower was repeated again, this time it cost a second chance at qualifying. Not the way you want to start off your ADRL weekend.
Rain had cut the third qualifier short but during this time off my teammates could hear Bret Kepner continuously announcing new record numbers falling after each pass in their class. Camp, John, Scott and Jimmy seemed unfazed at the setback since they were still not qualified with the Saturday morning session their only shot at getting into a HUGE 23 car field, there seems to be no shortage of cars in Pro Extreme.
Backpedaling to the Friday qualifying sessions the action was intense. I can't remember a single pass that wasn't better than the last one from every racer. Most had already heard the word of the explosive Ray Commisso crash through the airwaves, as it happened directly past me.
Ray Commisso | Firey Pro Mod Crash Sequence At ADRL Photos
A scary look at alcohol and oil bursting into flames as his Camaro Pro Mod slammed the wall hard yet Commisso would exit the car unharmed, a testament to the quality and safety of these vehicles. After Maple Grove quickly made repairs to the wall and the 330ft timing equipment the action again was nonstop and man, these guys can drive.
Qualifying sessions so close they rivaled some of the best "In your dreams" finals you would ever want to see, this is the level of competition I expected when returning to the series. I was awaiting the final time qualifier until a cold front had pulled in with rain an ended the night early.
There can only be one reason why again I had a sleepless night, sheer adrenaline. Our team was heading into the last and only qualifier on Saturday morning. I could only hope the car would respond and get in the field since the last race was the first time they had seen a first round appearance in quite some time since making the decision to go "Hemi" over the 481X.
As I left for the top-end to catch some high-speed ADRL drag racing action, I was not let down with the fast paced racing. I noticed the stands beginning to fill quite rapidly also.
I'm a resident of Pennsylvania and this is a working man's state so you don't take your Saturdays lightly, seems fans found this the place to be as I would too.
I waited patiently to see the Stanley & Weiss Camaro enter the beams from 900 feet away. After witnessing some incredible side-by-side action again, I'm pretty seasoned after years of drag racing, but this was off the hook as I enjoyed watching the fans reactions also.
Looking through my long lens I could see the Stanley and Weiss Camaro going through burnout stage.
As the official second team mascot, Camps Chihuahua "Shelby" has the number one spot over me; I was pretty much the biggest cheerleader on the top end.
As I rattled off shots I could see John Stanley was on one heckuva pass, again I'm seeing this through a lens. Sadly, I witnessed a gush of oil pour from the underneath of the car.
Understandably, this was not what I cared to see happen. I immediately stopped photographing and watched as John steered the car looking as if he had a handle on things well, I began shooting again realizing that all was not good yet.
John kept it off the walls and in one piece. Of course I began breathing again as Maple Grove had their track crew on him in seconds.
Feeling like that was the end of our team's race; I heard over the loudspeaker that John had just made the field at number 15 through the traps 3.781 @ 198.85. I enthusiastically made an idiot of myself screaming and jumping loudly yet wondered if the car was alright and they could still compete.
John Stanley ADRL Camaro Pro Mod Wild Ride Sequence Photos
Back in my teams pits I expected to see severe damage, connecting rods, pistons, and holes in the engine block.
None of this was evident; the oil pan had burst probably from the earlier manifold failure.
Kevin from Jan-Cen came to the rescue; pitted just ahead of us, he welded up the pan in no time and filled with oil this machine was ready to face Frankie Taylor in the first round, a tough competitor but anything can happen in this sport.
During the first round eliminations, If you were a spectator in the stands you would've noticed how incredible extreme pro-stock was as they were the first ones out. If this was a precursor to what the races would be like for the rest of the day, I wasn't moving.
After the many classes had passed through it was time for the big dogs of Pro Extreme, I say that because of my fondess for belt driven power. I brought out my short lens and stayed as close to the action as I could. I knew John Stanley was able to cut a killer light, and Frankie Taylor may have felt he had some first-round fodder.
John Stanley dropped a .044 on Frankie Taylor who was giving up a lot with his .126. John Stanley had to pedal through tire shake, which surely was the end of the day as Frankie Taylor took the win light knocking down a solid 3.666 @ 208.14. Our team could only think; had that pass been the same number for them as in qualifying John would have beat Taylor on a hole shot. One can only wish though. To the team it meant one thing, they were back and ready to do business. Between the new tires Mickey Thompson is putting out, the new converter in the car and getting a handle on the Hemi. The team feels they are position now to create some havoc in the points again.
The team of Stanley & Weiss Racing will head off to the ADRL Carsafe Gateway Drags VI at Madison, IL. Gateway Motorsports Park June 1st -2nd to stretch the "Appalachia On Steroids" ADRL Camaro Pro Mod to its limits again.
As long-winded as this may have been I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the ADRL at Maple Grove. Seriously, this is one series I'm proud to be a legitimate, card-carrying member and fan just as anybody else would be with or without credentials. Drag Racing at this level is hard to find in many ways and still I consider it A SPECTATOR SPORT in every sense of the word.
Sure we have our local large events that come around once, maybe twice a year and not to say they aren't exciting, this is something we don't get a chance to see often.
A well-managed Extreme show, exciting teams, drivers and cars that don't visit as much as we'd like. And machines that rival NHRA's top classes yet you can literally walk up to any driver or crew and stand next to a fire breathing 3,000HP machine without the secret service style of "not allowed" near the cars. These guys love meeting people and it shows.
In closing, I would like to Thank the ADRL, Jeff Fortune "Executive Vice President", Josh Hachat "Director of Media and Communications" for having me, it was an incredible time and more than I expected. Penske for bringing this back to Maple Grove as the sponsor for this event. My Host Team and boss Camp Stanley. All the racers and teams who were so welcoming to me. My sideline photographers, especially Seth Cohen, Roger Richards, Todd Dziadosz and more.
Camp will be back next posting for his one and only style of verbatum race recap.
Sincerely goDragRacing.org Mark
goDragRacing.org Photography / Web and Graphic Design.
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