Spalding keeps long drag-racing career revved up

"I think you have to have racing surgically removed to get away from it," said Martin Spalding, trying to explain his long relationship with motor sports. The 49-year-old Reisterstown native has been involved in racing in one form or another since he turned 16.

Spalding started racing with a 1955 Chevy as soon as he could drive. After a stint in the service, he did not pick up racing again until after he married and had a business successfully under way.


When Spalding returned to racing, he tried road racing with a 1966 Chevrolet Corvette. When he realized that the car was too good to race, he purchased a Formula race car.

With the Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia the closest road course, traveling to other tracks throughout the Northeast took too much of his time, time that he needed to prepare the car.


So Spalding returned to his first love, drag racing, where he could stay close to home. He purchased a race car ready to run. The car does not have the long wheelbase of a dragster nor is it a full-bodied car. Some would call it an altered car having a body style of a 1923 Ford Model-T.

Spalding has had the car nearly 10 years. He has made various improvements to make it safer and faster.

"The horsepower was there all along," said Spalding. "But I had a problem of getting it down to the track. With a solid rear end, the only way we could adjust the car was by changing air pressure in the rear tires."

To improve the traction he changed the suspension on the chassis to a four-link one and extending the wheelbase to where it was 12 inches longer. He brought the car up to state of the art, which resulted in his best year at 75-80 Dragway, finishing eighth in points and his first trip to Maple Grove three weeks ago.

The car does the quarter-mile in 8.5 seconds (155 mph). Spalding improved the elapsed time by three-tenths of a second when he lengthened the chassis.

The 2,000-pound car is powered by a fuel-injected Chevrolet engine that produces 625 horsepower at the rear wheels. The machine work is done by Jeff Dayne of County Engines in Frederick. Ron Bryant and Chick DeNinno of Fabrications Inc. in Gaithersburg helped Spalding with the chassis.

Spalding won two races and had a couple of runner-ups this year.

Spalding has overcome two years of mechanical woes to become one of the more consistent drivers at 75-80. When he is not working on his race car, he always has a project car in the garage to tinker with. His last project car was a 12-cylinder Jaguar, which he sold six months ago.


Having his own business, M.A. Spalding Associates, Martin uses racing for therapy. It helps relieves the stress and racing on weekends is a good way to unwind.

Weekend results


On the oval track circuit last weekend, Gary Stuhler of Westminster traveled to the Dirt Track World Championship at the Pennsboro Speedway. Stuhler won the consolation to qualify for the 100-lap event. Stuhler started 22nd and worked his way through the field to finish seventh. Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, Tenn., won the $50,000-to-win race.

Steve Owings of Westminster traveled to Linda's Speedway in Jonestown, Pa., for the Pepsi Cola Micro-Sprint National Open. He won the consolation race and placed fifth in the 40-lap event after starting 23rd.

Last Sunday, 13-year-old Josh Wagner won the Junior Dragster Championship at 75-80 Dragway. Twenty-five youngsters from Maryland and Pennsylvania were on hand for the championship as Wagner defeated 10 of the competitors he raced against. Wagner is an eighth-grade student at West Middle School.


In Class I action at 75-80 Dragway, Dan Householder of Sykesville was runner-up to Robbie Hudlow of Monrovia. Sev Tingle of Mount Airy and Tom Higgs of Sykesville were semifinalist. Allan Palmer of Hampstead and Reuben Standifer of Mount Airy each went four rounds. Westminster's Buddy Wilson, George Hoff and Jim Peddicord along with Ron Leonard of Mount Airy all went three rounds.

In Class II action, Mike Stambaugh of Union Bridge and Steve Cavey of Westminster went five rounds. Westminster drivers Jeff Davis, Cliff Peddicord and Donald Bosley went four rounds. Malcolm Ford of Westminster won the motorcycle class.

Ronnie Proctor, formerly of Westminster, was the winner in Class I action at Mason-Dixon Dragway last Sunday.