Driving through Pennsylvania farms, passing the occasional horse-drawn cart, we suddenly come upon a world-class drag racing facility nestled among the cornfields and (fittingly) maple trees. Of course we're at Maple Grove where a record crowd of racers, show cars, and Chevy fans have arrived for a long weekend of enjoyment. With hundreds of swap meet spaces and Midway vendors, car builders, and shoppers can also find parts, souvenirs, and cool apparel to take home. Coming on the heels of the extravaganza in Indy, we always are amazed at the size of this event. Drawing exhibitors and fans from the Northeast and Canada, Maple Grove is a premier event on the tour.
For race fans, we saw Gary Irving set a new Nitro Coupe elapsed time record for this track by running a 6.19 in time trials on Saturday. This led to a final round victory for Irving when he eliminated Jim Nordhougen on Sunday afternoon. Early Saturday morning we treated jet car racer, Ken Hall, to a trip down the quarter-mile in the maiden run of Project X, now on it's eastern segment of the 2003 SUPER CHEVY Road Tour. Turning 98 mph in 13.7 seconds, we were pleased with the performance of our road-driven ride. For a driver accustomed to recording speeds of over 270 mph in the low-6-second range, Hall was as thrilled as a kid with a brand-new toy to have the chance of driving our favorite '57 Chevy.
During our trips through the race pits, we meet some interesting folks while selecting Editor's Choice Top Ten drag race cars. Denny Rettinger of Leesport, Pennsylvania, caught our eye with his '51 GMC pickup. The truck was used by Denny's father on a farm and when he took it over there wasn't a straight panel on it. After hundreds of hours of straightening, the old hauler hit the road for a few years before beginning a second life on the track. It has been raced for over 20 years and has lots more left.