Maximum Multi-Tasking!

By:       Bruce Biegler

Tottenham Ontario’s Ike Maier managed to carve himself out a little bit of drag racing history during the recent NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals, in Gainesville, Florida….

While the aspiring driver may not have ended up in victory lane or carded some huge performance numbers, his effort was still one of the traditional Eastern season opening event’s most intriguing news stories.

In what was a first for drag racing, Maier was entered in both Top Fuel and Pro Mod at the same event. 

Ike Maier charted some new drag racing territory at Gainesville

Maier was behind the wheel of the slick “all black” ’63 Corvette Pro Mod that he has raced over the past two seasons in conjunction with Kirk Silbermann (Ajax, ON). At Gainesville Raceway, he also had his first stint driving in a Top Fuel car, aiming the ever improving Paton Racing dragster for the first time in competition.  That came only a few days after receiving that license upgrade.

As fate would have it, Maier did not qualify in either category this time (placed 21st in Top Fuel and 23rd in Pro Mod), but let there be no doubt that there are bigger and better days ahead for this skilled and determined Canadian racer. 

“Last year I tried to enter the Gatornationals but could not get in due to the points structure,” Ike reported.  “So it’s really a bit ironic that this year I’m here in two cars.   We had originally entered the Pro Mod first but Barry (Paton) wanted to come with his Top Fuel car and so did I – so we were able to swing it.”
For Maier, who’s rise in the sport of drag racing has been a relatively quick one (started in 2005); his interest in Top Fuel began to peek about two years ago.

Ike Maier has become Canada's newest Top Fuel licensed driver

“I had been going to the NHRA races in Las Vegas for a while and took a keen interest in Top Fuel there,” he continued.  “I decided not all that long ago that I could do that.  So I tried it out — got licensed – and this opportunity opened up with Barry.”

One of the frequent questions Ike addressed all weekend was how did he prepare to drive two such vastly different race cars.

“It seemed that it was everyone else that was putting that question in my head,” he added.  “To be honest I didn’t think about it that much.  Both cars require a different mindset and different focus – but it was really not that big of a problem.  The biggest difference is the Top Fuel car goes out smooth and fast while the Pro Mod car is more of an initial jolt.  There is also probably a little more finesse required in steering the dragster.”

Maier did confirm that he has plans to make additional event appearances in both Top Fuel and Pro Mod this coming season.   While that exact schedule is to be finalized and is subject to sponsorship negotiations, the likelihood of him racing at Charlotte, Atlanta, Bristol, Norwalk and Las Vegas does exist.

“To be honest there is not really a big grand plan to come out here and race two cars,” Ike concluded.  “It’s really just how things worked out.  I mean if I’m here – why not run both cars?”

It should be noted that Ike’s Pro Mod Corvette which crashed at Cayuga back in 2009 has undergone a major metamorphosis for the 2011 season, with its primary goal to be competitive within the very demanding and super swift NHRA GSA Pro Mod Series.
The Maier & Silbermann PM Corvette

During the past off-season his car received some extensive upgrades including a new blower program, gear and transmission ratios, carbon fiber brakes and significant changes to the chassis setup.

 “In a nutshell I drove Kirk nuts with all that,” Maier confirmed.  “But my intent is to keep up with the big boys.  I think the rules over here (NHRA) are in a good spot.  The race tracks here are very safe – and that is important to me.”

To date Ike’s best run in his Pro Mod is 6.03 secs however expectations are very high for runs soon in the 5-secs zone. 

(Bruce Biegler Photos)