The nitro drag bike world takes its spot on the big stage as Top Fuel Motorcycle stars Larry “Spiderman” McBride and Dave Vantine will be in action in Reading, Pa. as part of the 37th annual Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway this weekend.
McBride and Vantine thrilled fans at Virginia Motorsports Park and Summit Motorsports with two of the quickest side-by-side passes the sport as ever seen.
McBride went an incredible 268.38-mph in Virginia to make the fastest motorcycle pass in drag racing history and along with rising star Vantine, the veteran will make exhibition passes in Reading, attempting to go even faster at a track where several record-breaking performances have taken place over the years.
These two fearless racers will notice several track improvements.
For the past five months since they’ve purchased Maple Grove Raceway, veteran NHRA racer Kenny Koretsky and his family, which includes his sons Kenny Jr. and current Pro Stock driver Kyle, have been hard at work on renovations and updates to the historic facility.
Numerous improvements have already been made and will be noticeable for fans and race teams heading into this weekend’s Pep Boys NHRA Nationals. It’s been a tremendous amount of work, but the Koretsky family is excited to show off the revamped facility at the opening race in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship.
“It’s taken a lot of work from everyone and there’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’re proud of what we’ve done and the response we’ve already heard from fans and racers,” Kyle Koretsky said. “We’ve even had racers who have offered to help the place succeed. There’s a lot of history here and we want to make sure this track succeeds. Our family has put our heart and soul into this and there’s no room for failure. That’s not in our vocabulary. We’ve built a strong team here and we’re looking forward to having a great race and a great future here.”
Among the updates are complete renovations to both towers, including all of the VIP suites and the timing tower, as well as the completion of the first phase of a new audio system at the track. They’ve started the process of adding new LED lights throughout the entire track, as well as repaving the upper lot, the turn-off at the top end – which has also been widened to 35 feet – and the starting line.
The Koretsky family and their team have also created 11 new RV spots for camping with plans to add 30 more for next season. They’ve added new air conditioning, new fencing, fresh paint, improved the overall look of the facility, and recently completed renovations to the bathrooms. The concession menu for race fans has also been completely revamped, as the Koretsky family has put a strong emphasis on improving the fan experience at the track in all areas.
“It’s taken a lot of work to get it to our standard and it’s going to continue to take work. We’re not done yet,” Koretsky said. “The racetrack is only part of it. Fans want a clean facility, they want to eat well, and we want to make sure we give our customers and fans a great facility. That’s something we take a lot of pride in and that’s what we want to accomplish here.”
Already a fan-favorite facility and penchant for delivering some of the quickest and fastest runs in NHRA history, Koretsky and his family are focused on making Maple Grove Raceway a destination track for years to come. This year’s race will feature all four professional categories, as playoffs as championship drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle will look to start their world championship bids with a win. Located in the heart of Amish country, the track has always boasted a wonderful, scenic backdrop for the massive fanbase.
Brittany Force, who will start the playoffs as the Top Fuel points leader, made the quickest run in NHRA history at the facility in 2019 with her run of 3.623-seconds, while Billy Torrence (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won last year’s race. This year’s playoff opener will be broadcast on both the FOX broadcast network and Fox Sports 1 (FS1) in 2022 and will also serve as the NFL adjacent broadcast on FOX, putting the NHRA on a huge platform to open its 2022 playoffs.
“I hope everyone notices and enjoys the work we’ve put in,” Koretsky said. “If you saw this place five months ago to today, you would have said this wasn’t even possible. We want to see that excitement from everyone when they get here. We’ve had some hiccups and it’s been stressful and a lot of hours but seeing the excitement from all the hard work everyone has put in, that’s the icing on the cake for me. We’re hoping for a packed house, and we want to make this a premier facility.”
In Top Fuel, Force will look to open the playoffs with a victory against standouts like four-time defending world champ Steve Torrence, Indy winner Antron Brown, Leah Pruett, Mike Salinas, and Justin Ashley.
Robert Hight has enjoyed a banner season in Funny Car, running away with the points lead on the strength of six victories. He’ll look for a Reading win against Indy winner Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, Bob Tasca III and Cruz Pedregon.
Greg Anderson is after back-to-back wins in Reading, a race after picking up his 100th career victory. Looking to stop him is points leader Erica Enders, who has six wins in 2022, Aaron Stanfield, Koretsky, Dallas Glenn and Troy Coughlin Jr.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Smith will look to start his title defense facing off with defending event winner Steve Johnson, Joey Gladstone, Angelle Sampey, Eddie Krawiec, Angie Smith, and Karen Stoffer.
The Pep Boys NHRA Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, as well as the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown category. On Friday, fans can witness all the thrills of a jet car exhibition after nitro qualifying, while the race also features the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League Shootout. On Saturday, fans can also attend Nitro School to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds.
Race fans at Maple Grove Raceway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals event winners.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Reading. This unique opportunity gives fans a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family. The new Pep Boys midway display will include tire change challenges, oil change challenges, a slot car track, and much more, adding even more excitement to the midway.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 4:45 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 16, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 12:15 and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 18. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday, 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations on FOX at 2:00 or 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday. Check local listings for Sunday broadcast times on FOX in your area.
To purchase tickets to the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, visit www.NHRA.com or call 800-884-6472. All children 12 and under will be admitted free in the general admission area with a paid adult. For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.