Rick Waxter of Westminster is one of the most promising young drivers at the 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia.
In only his first full season in weekly competition, Waxter has been in the top 10 in the point standings most of the year.
Currently seventh in points, the 23-year-old looks like a sure bet to make the team that will represent 75-80 at the National Hot Rod Association's Northeast Division Bracket Finals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., in two weeks.
Waxter always has enjoyed fooling around with cars. He was around drag racing at an early age when his father competed regularly at area tracks.
Four years ago he purchased a 1972 Plymouth Barracuda with the intention of racing it at 75-80. But before he had the opportunity to become involved with racing, the car was totaled when it was struck broadside by a tractor and trailer. Fortunately, Waxter was not injured.
A short time after the accident, Waxter purchased another Cuda, this one a 1970 model that he saved from the salvage yard. Along with his father, he worked long hours restoring the car.
They replaced the 318-cubic-inch motor that barely ran with a 440-cubic-inch one. They replaced the transmission and the suspension. A mechanic by trade with Koons Toyota in Westminster, Waxter did all the motor work himself.
Waxter purchased the car for $900. He estimates he has invested more than $6,000 in the car, not including the labor. When the car was completed three years ago, Waxter finally began to compete at 75-80.
"Once I could afford it, I figured I would try it," he said. "I raced whenever I had the time for it."
Until this year, he raced part time. But this year has been a different story, he decided to go all out and has impressed everyone.
"This is the first year that I have gotten into it all the way," said Waxter. "This year I have a decent job, so I can race every weekend."
Since the start of the year, Waxter has been one of the top drivers in Class II (for cars with elapsed time 12 seconds and slower in the quarter mile) competition.
He was tied for first earlier in the season and stayed in the top 10 until the midway point when his car began to experience mechanical problems. The car kept hesitating when leaving the starting line.
Waxter spent three weeks trying to diagnose the problem. Meanwhile, he dropped to 37th in the point standings. The year would have been a washout if it wasn't for Chuck Taylor of Westminster, who found the problem was in the carburetor. After Taylor made the necessary repairs, Waxter has raced himself back into the top 10.
Except for the three-week dry spell, the rookie driver has been as consistent as a veteran. He has been to the final round twice, the semifinals four times and the quarterfinals several times, all racking up points needed to make the bracket finals.
Waxter feels confident now that he is going to win before the season is over.