After 20 years, Mayne savors life atop Class I Mt. Airy resident is 2-time champ

June 27, 1993|By Stanley Dillon | Stanley Dillon,Contributing Writer

One of the top drivers in Class I at the 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia is Joe Mayne.

Two weeks ago, the Mount Airy resident won the Class I competition and the Top Dog, a race that pits the top winner of Class I against Class II.

Mayne is currently on top in the point standings in Class I, the division for cars that can cover a quarter of a mile in 11.9 seconds or less.

Being on or near the top of the point standings has been a familiar place for the veteran driver who began racing 20 years ago.

Mayne, 41, has qualified for the bracket finals every year since they began.

In his teens, he and his brother, Larry, went to the track to help their uncle. When he turned 16, Mayne began racing in the heavy eliminator class -- a class that was similar to today's Class II division.

In 1973 he got his first car, a 1967 Chevrolet, that turned the quarter-mile in 12 seconds. During his first eight years of racing, Mayne raced a couple of times a month for the fun of it. It wasn't until 1982 that he became serious about racing.

He purchased an altered body car and began racing eight to 12 times a month in the nine-second range. Two years later he won his first championship.

In 1986 he purchased his first dragster. Three years ago, he had a new one built with the cockpit customized to his design, and in 1991, he won his second title.

His dragster, weighing 1,525 pounds, completes the quarter-mile in the mid-eight-second range. At the end of the run, Mayne is going 150 mph.

The dragster is powered by a 454-cubic-inch Chevrolet engine with a two-speed power-glide transmission. To obtain maximum horsepower, he uses alcohol instead of gas.

"The car is two-tenths of a second faster with alcohol," said Mayne. "Alcohol doesn't make that much heat, so it runs cooler and I don't have to worry as much about cooling it down between runs. It is hard to keep it as cool with gasoline."

Although the car is light and fast, Mayne believes the car is safer than any other car.

In addition to its safety, Mayne likes the dragster because of its practicality.

"The dragster is an inexpensive way to go fast," said Mayne. "The car is light and easy to work on. It is just an all-around cheaper way to go fast. It is also more consistent than full-bodied cars."

His two sons, Joe and Ryan, and his wife, Pat, play an integral part in his success. They do everything from keeping the dragster fueled to charging the batteries, allowing him to concentrate on racing.

Joe's brother, Larry, is a top driver in Class I who races a Chevrolet Monza. Occasionally the two will race each other. When they do, it is usually in the closing rounds because both drivers are so good. Four weeks ago the two met in the final round. Larry won that one, but Joe has won his share of the matches.

During the week, Mayne thoroughly troubleshoots his car, checking all the bolts, looking for leaks and keeping the oil clean.

He keeps good records on the number of runs he makes with his engine. The better his season is, the more runs he makes. So far he has over 100 runs on the motor.

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