One of the highlights of the drag racing season is the Firestone/TNN National Hot Rod Association Northeast Division Bracket Finals at the Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.
This weekend, more than 800 drivers from 17 Division I racetracks on the East Coast and Canada compete to see which racetrack team will record the most winning points in five classes.
Today is the final eliminations as drivers in Class I, Class II, High School, Junior Dragster and Motorcycle divisions compete for team points as well as individual purse and contingency awards.
The championship at Maple Grove is a culmination of a yearlong season of weekly racetrack point events that determine the individual teams.
After competing each week against one another to make the team, the drivers from each track come together to battle for the coveted team championship.
The championship has gone to the 75-80 Dragway team five of the 17 years. But 75-80 hasn't won since it captured three straight team titles in 1986-88 and narrowly missed making it four in a row in 1989 when it lost to Beaver Springs (Pa.) Dragway by only four points.
Now the 75-80 drag team, loaded with Carroll County drivers, seeks to regain that top position after a third-place finish last year.
Other Maryland tracks that will participate in the bracket finals include Mason-Dixon Dragway in Hagerstown, which finished second in 1991, and Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek, the 1990 champion.
The championship weekend started off Friday night with the Tournament of Champions event where the No. 1 driver from each track competed.
Although most of the Carroll County drivers race weekly at 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia, several race regularly at Mason-Dixon.
Carroll County drivers just about make up the three championship teams representing 75-80.
Joe Mayne of Mount Airy won Class I, Corey Hess of Taneytown was the top point-getter in Class II and Marvin Ford of Westminster won the Motorcycle division. Brian Dowdy of Mount Airy is the top High School driver.
Drivers from Carroll County who will be representing 75-80 in Class I, cars with elapsed time of 0 to 11.99 seconds, include champion Joe Mayne, Mount Airy, '90 Dragster; No. 2. Larry Mayne, Mount Airy, '80 Monza; No. 4. Mike Creaghan, Mount Airy, '69 Plymouth Roadrunner; No. 6. Ray Lewis, Woodbine, '89 Chevrolet Camaro; No. 9. Dan Householder, Sykesville, Dodge Aries; No. 16. Charlie Spielman, Taneytown, '69 Ford Torino; No. 19 Phelps Sigler, Keymar, '73 Dodge Dart.
Joe Mayne, Lewis, and Spielman were on the team last year.
In Class II, for cars with elapsed time of 12 seconds and slower, Carroll County drivers include No. 1. champion Hess, Taneytown, '77 Ford Mustang; No. 3. Mike Stambaugh, Union Bridge, '79 Ford Fairmont; No. 5. Scott Lowman, Woodbine, '65 Chevrolet Chevelle; No. 7. Roger Jorss, Sykesville, '70 Chevrolet Chevelle; No. 12. Chris Hruska, Mount Airy, '65 Ford Mustang; No. 15. Rick Waxter, Westminster, '70 Baracuda; No. 17. Larry Hoff, Westminster, Ford Mustang; No. 19. George Hoff, Westminster, '69 Chevrolet Camaro.
The Carroll County riders in the Motorcycle class are No. 1. Ford, Westminster, '89 Kawasaki; No. 2. Dave Belt, Taneytown, '91 Suzuki; No. 3. Malcolm Ford, Westminster, '91 Suzuki; No. 4. Norman Wagner, Hampstead, '91 Suzuki; No. 5. Tim Lippy, New Windsor, '78 Kawasaki; No. 6. Marion Ford, Hampstead, '87 Suzuki; No. 8. Gene Belt, Taneytown, '82 Suzuki; No. 9. Scott Chasen, Taneytown, '76 Kawasaki; No. 10. Mark Hoff, Westminster, '78 Kawasaki.
Wagner, along with the Ford and the Belt brothers, competed in the finals last year. Malcolm Ford was runner-up last year at Maple Grove.
At Mason-Dixon Dragway, Earl Bitzel of Finksburg was 14th in Class I. In Class II, Jamie Talbert of Taneytown finished eighth in his '72 Chevrolet Vega and Brian Fandel of Mount Airy was third in the motorcycle division on a '75 Kawasaki. Ronnie Procter, formerly of Westminster, now residing in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., placed second in Class I in a '81 Ford Mustang. Proctor won Class I at Mason Dixon in 1992.
Rain wiped out the action last weekend at 75-80 and Mason-Dixon Dragways and oval track racing at Lincoln and Winchester speedways.
At Trail-Way Speedway, 13-year-old rookie Mike Wall of Mount Airy pulled an upset in the four-cylinder division as he started second and led all 15 laps to score his first career win. Wall also won his qualifying heat. Matt Barnes of Westminster was second and his brother Steve was fifth. In the street stock feature, Randy Enos of Woodstock was third and Brad McClelland was runner-up in the micro-sprint main event. In the eight-cylinder feature, Charlie Calp of Hampstead was fourth, Joe Brown of Hampstead was fifth, Mark Shorb of Westminster was seventh and Gary Herman of Manchester rounded out the top 10.
In late-model action at Hagerstown Speedway Sunday, Gary Stuhler of Westminster came on strong from his 12th starting spot in the 25-lap feature only to have time run out and have to settle for second behind track champion Nathan Durboraw. Charlie Schaffer of Hampstead was 11th.
Cris Eash of Woodbine finished ninth in the second half of the twin-20 lap features at Williams Grove last Friday.