It is no secret to those in the local auto racing industry that striking a healthy balance between a race driving career, family and maintaining a successful day job usually outside of a competitor's racing endeavors can be difficult at best. For an example of a local driving talent who has excelled at achieving that balance successfully one only need to look at the life of drag racer Pete Maduri Jr.
Maduri Jr., 30, of North Tonawanda, has achieved much success behind the wheel of his various drag racing machines since he drove in his first Junior Dragster event when he was 14. He also maintains a solid relationship with his family, many of whom share in his love of the sport. Lastly, what started as a pure employment opportunity when he accepted a sales position with his current employer, Dynabrade Inc., back in 2013, now has evolved into Dynabrade becoming Maduri's racing team's primary sponsorship partner for the 2017 season.
Maduri Jr., has enjoyed success from the very moment he began his drag racing career in 2002. Among his career achievements while in Junior Dragsters was season point championship at Lancaster in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 and at Empire Dragway in 2005. After moving to full autos at age 18, Maduri gained a Top ET class championship at Lancaster in 2007 as well as a ROC championship there in 2009. He is the 2010 TNT Super Series titlist. Maduri is Lancaster's 2012 and 2013 Quick 16 champion.
The best was yet to come as Maduri also began to hit the road through the years competing around the country in both IHRA and NHRA national and divisional events.
In 2013, Maduri was hired as a sales manager by Dynabrade and had to relocate to Texas all the while continuing to actively drag race. In 2015, he moved due to his responsibilities with Dynabrade to Indianapolis and got the opportunity to move back to Western New York this past January when he was promoted to the product manager position at Dynabrade's Clarence based facility.
Maduri acknowledges that his early start in Junior Dragsters was key to his drag racing career.
"It gave myself a head start," said Maduri. "The competition was really tough in Junior Dragsters. People might just think it's just children racing but it's much more than that. It's pretty competive and we did do a decent amount of traveling in that. So I was able to compete on more of the national level in that too. I learned a lot abot the basics that I now have taken with me throughout my career."
The drag racing success that he authored in his earlier career locally followed right to the Lone Star State.
"I started focusing more on the divisional and national level once I moved," said Maduri. "I have four IHRA divisional wins in Top Dragster and in Super Rod. I have one NHRA divisional open win.
"This past year the biggest thing is I am ranked No. 5 in the world in IHRA drag racing in both Super Rod and Top Dragster, which is the fastest of IHRA's sportsman classe. I've got three cars that I race. This year I will be running a 2005 Corvette Roadster (Super Rod). Also I will run a 2008 Top Dragster (Quick Rod, Top Dragster)that's owned by Scott Jahren. I also have a 1987 Mustang for general bracket racing."
Maduri's first out of town competition this season will be during the first weekend in May at an IHRA national meet in Maryland competing in both the Super Rod and Quick Rod classes. "We're going to chase the IHRA national points which will consist of events in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York. I will also do about three to four NHRA divisionals and a couple of national events."
Local fans will also see Maduri racing at Lancaster now that he has relocated back to this area. Comprising his crew this season will be Pete Maduri Sr., Nancy Maduri, Gina Maduri, Jahren, Joe Lilienthal and Mike Swinarski.
"When were not out on the road, we will definitely be at Lancaster on Friday nights and anytime we can get up to Empire in Leicester for Saturday races. We will be also at the TNT Super Series events with my dad Pete Maduri Sr. driving my Corvette Roadster in those TNT events. Also my sister Gina and myself will be piloting the 1987 Mustang in Mod ET at Lancaster.
"I will be very busy at Dynabrade as we sell industrial power tools in 93 countries," said Maduri. "Western New York can be proud that Clarence is home to their only manufacuting plant in the world that produces any type of die grinders, disc sanders and belt finishing tools. It's interesting that my employer has now become involved with me as a professional sponsor for my race team. I hope all goes well home and away in 2017."
Stock cars get early jump
This past Saturday 38 stock car drivers took advantage of a pre-season practice session at Lancaster. Among those participating in the practice which was held in advance of this Saturday's 2 p.m. stock car season opener at Lancaster were: Sportsman drivers Mark Pennell, Jayme Thompson, George Skora III, Neal Dietz Jr., John Barber, Kevin Miller, Andy Jankowiak, Dave Kozlowski and Mike Meyers.
Street Stock drivers practicing were Dave Wilson Jr., Mark Hoch, Lou Carbone, Don Sitarski, Tommy Wentland, Jarrod Brown and Ken Maltby, Mike Rogers, Tom and Max Northem. 4-Cylinder drivers included Bobby Woch, Chris Bugenhagen, Chris Pennell, Casey Pew, Dave Brunka. and Dave Milbrand Jr. Late Models on hand included Dave Russell, Dave Rigan, Nick Crassi. Super Stocks included Josh Hunter, Joel Gleason and Jim Steffenhagen Jr.