If I was tasked with allocating everything I love about my job as a traveling dragstrip explorer, it would most assuredly take more than a single column. That’s why I’ve always viewed this conversation as a work in progress. In addition to the usual dose of drag racing related topics, I also wanted to divulge a few other topics directly related to my job that also rock my world: American history, travel, and tow rigs!
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #184, the State of Drag Special Issue, in September/October of 2023.]
I’ve seen much of the country over the last 15 years as a roving race reporter and I’ve learned that if you want to see some really cool and ingenious tow rigs, head to where the grassroots sportsman racers hang out and you’ll encounter some unforgettable stuff.
About a decade ago, I was knocking around Pennsylvania and I stopped to visit Beaver Springs Dragway, a scenic, off-the-beaten path track located in the central part of the state. Amazingly, this was on a Monday afternoon, as Beaver Springs was holding a Memorial Day Weekend event that extended right on past the weekend. The single most memorable thing I recall about this day was when I was strolling through the pits and came upon a gorgeous Buick Wildcat sitting on an open trailer, which was being towed by yet another Buick, a vintage 4-door Electra 225, to be precise.
The state of Pennsylvania has proven to be a treasure trove of unique car and rig combinations, as the photo of the Ford Mustang with matching ambulance tow vehicle illustrates. This was a scene I came upon back in 2013 at Maple Grove Raceway. Track manager Sarah Gingrich tells me this unique setup belongs to Danny Boyer, to whom I tip my hat. The other photo was snapped in the staging lanes of Maple Grove just a few months ago, when I stopped by for an afternoon bracket race.
And when it comes to the aforementioned travel and American history that I find so fascinating, a trip to this part of America consistently offers a thrilling glimpse of a simpler time. It’s amazing to think that Maple Grove Raceway is an NHRA national event facility that’s situated in a setting so rural that it’s not uncommon to pass horse-drawn carriages just miles from the track. Signs are neatly placed at the edge of well-manicured lawns, advertising free-range chicken eggs for sale…or if you prefer, the whole chicken!
The track is listed as having a Mohnton, Pennsylvania, address, but more accurately, it’s located 8 miles south in Brecknock Township. Mohnton actually measures just 0.77 square miles and is home to just over 3,000 residents, according to the most recent census records that I was able to access.
Among the most enchanting constructions I’ve ever seen out on the road chasing races is a magnificent structure known as Allegheny Union Church, founded 1767, and it’s located a mere 10 minutes from the track. I just can’t seem to visit Maple Grove Raceway without also pulling off the road to take a closer look and walk the property of this ancient church…and the weathered headstones in the church’s cemetery are equally fascinating.
While doing some research for this column, I accidentally stumbled upon a link that took me to YouTube, where I discovered a song written by an up-and-coming country singer named Trent Becker. The music video for this song (released in 2021, and appropriately titled “Where The Lost Get Found”) was filmed in and around Allegheny Union Church! It’s as easy as going to YouTube and typing in the song title if you’d like to give it a look.
And so it goes, the opportunities for adventure are made fresh every weekend, and they’re here for all to enjoy. So, take some time to explore a dragstrip you’ve never been to…the road trip alone could produce lifelong memories!