Mike Creaghan of Mount Airy is wrapping up a successful season in drag racing at the 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia. The 31-year-old finished fourth in Class I points and is looking forward to next year.
Creaghan started drag racing as soon as he turned 16. He raced a 1970 Ford Torino Cobra, which served as transportation to high school as well as a race car.
"I went to the track on and off," said Creaghan. "We worked on the car in auto shop, changed some things on the car to make it go faster, then went to the drag strip to see if we got a quicker time."
Although Creaghan wasn't a regular, his interest in drag racing increased with each visit. After a couple years of racing, Creaghan's father made a trip to watch his son race.
"I won the ETK [trophy] class that night, even though I had manual transmission," said Creaghan. "It was the first time he watched me race. He was excited and we started talking about racing together."
In 1984, four years after his first run, Creaghan and his father purchased a 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner to go racing as a team.
"It was a piece of junk ready for the junkyard," said Creaghan. "We wanted the car because it was raced before and it had some good parts on it. It also had a big block in it and that was another reason we wanted it. It took us seven months of steady work to get the car ready to race."
The first time Creaghan raced the car, his elapsed time for the quarter-mile was 11.69 seconds.
Since he started racing it competitively nine years ago, Creaghan has shaved more than three seconds off the elapsed time.
In addition to working with the motor, he has increased the speed, reducing the weight of the car 1,000 pounds to 2,950 by replacing the stock fenders and doors with fiberglass ones. He also installed a Ford Pinto rack-and-pinion front end and a aluminum -- and switched the front brakes from drum to disk.
With the modifications, Creaghan has the car traveling nearly 140 mph at the end of the quarter-mile with elapsed times of 9.62 seconds.
During his first four years of regular competition, Creaghan attended the University of Maryland at College Park. Each weekend he would hop in his van and tow the car to the track
and race. Then returned back to school in time for Monday morning classes.
Creaghan graduated in 1987 with a degree in economics and now works for Hewlett-Packard in Gaithersburg.
Last year, Creaghan decided to switch his car from gas to alcohol and was not ready to race until June, so he bypassed the points program. With alcohol injection, he cut the elapsed time of the car by three-tenths of a second. But the increased speed meant more expense.
A powerful big-block 500-cubic-inch motor driving a heavy car can be brutal on the rest of the driveline. At one point, Creaghan blew apart a new $1,000 transmission at the starting line.
After a year of experimentation, Creaghan returned to square one this year, replacing his alcohol carburetion system with gas. It paid off with another consistent year.
Creaghan is the first to admit that you can't do it alone. His girlfriend, Elizabeth Dorsett, helps him each week. He also attributes a lot of his success to the advice he receives from Nathan Etzler, another Class I driver from Mount Airy.
Creaghan's sponsors include George Reggio of Maryland Performance Center in Gaithersburg and Performance Automatic in Montgomery Airpark.
Creaghan plans to concentrate on winning the Class I championship next year and travel to big events in the Northeast. Later, he would like to move up to a super comp or super gas car.
Carroll County drivers did well last weekend at 75-80 Dragway.
It hasn't taken long for Chuck Taylor of Westminster to get used to his new Pennzoil/Heltebridle-sponsored dragster. Last Saturday Taylor won the bonus for the quickest elapsed time of the meet as he ran the quarter-mile in an elapsed time of 8.63 seconds, 155 mph.
Taylor won five rounds of eliminations in Class I along with Jim Peddicord of Westminster and Robert Norris of Germantown. The three drivers split the purse because a late evening rain canceled the finals.
In other Class I action, Larry Hoff of Westminster won two rounds. Rick Waxter of Westminster won three rounds and Jason Warehime won two rounds in Class II. Ken Callahan of Westminster won the ETK class and Lisa Peddicord went five rounds.
Last Sunday, Allen Palmer was runner-up in Class I competition. Mike Stambaugh of Union Bridge went five rounds, Taylor and Jim Peddicord went three rounds. Galen McKenzie of Sykesville won the Class II competition.
In Division I Regionals at Englishtown, N.J., Len Davis and Todd Harris of Westminster both went five rounds in the Super Comp Division eliminations.
In Super-ET action at Mason-Dixon Dragway last Sunday, Woody Etzler and Larry Mayne, both of Mount Airy, went to the third round, and Dan Gilbert of Westminster and Mount Airy drivers Russell Barefoot and Nathan Etzler went two rounds. Scott Lowman of Woodbine went to the semifinals in the Heavy Division.
On the oval track circuit, Jesse Wentz of Manchester placed third in the 25-lap super sprint feature at Lincoln Speedway last Saturday. In the final point standings for the sprints, Darren Eash of Woodbine finished seventh for the year. Randy Zechman of Westminster finished sixth in the semi-late feature.
Gary Stuhler and Charlie Schaffer traveled to the Cumberland Raceway Saturday for the Queen City 50. Stuhler finished third and and Schaffer was eighth. At Potomac Speedway, Brad Green of Westminster was fourth in the four-cylinder feature and Mike Walls of Mount Airy was eighth.