Drag Illustrated Issue 169, June/July 2021 - Page 65

money and gave it back to the racers . Other than that , it ’ s been a learning process , just seeing what the racers like and don ’ t like , and we ’ re not afraid to try different things .”
Keys was so successful in rebuilding the bracket program , the Hupkes hired him as general manager in 2021 .
“ With this being my first year as GM , I want to get the team in-sync and learn ,” Keys says . “ I take constructive criticism very well . Between myself and my assistant manager , Ashton Batchelor , we ’ re really starting to get a handle on staffing . We ’ re gonna grow this place , there ’ s no doubt .”
In addition to the robust bracket program , US 41 is perfectly positioned to capitalize on the Chicago area grudge scene , as well as a healthy and growing test-and-tune program . Suddenly , more and more people are taking notice of the track in recent years .
“ We ’ ve been getting calls from various Pro Mod teams and also A / Fuel dragster teams want-ing
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to come out and test . I envision a lot of things happening out here , including hosting Pro Mod races .” Keys says .
Another asset to the track is the announcer , Greg Nickleski , who calls the races with plenty of passion and excitement .
In late May , US 41 presented the second annual Twin 10 Granders event , which kicked things off on Friday with a 64-car shootout . For the main events on Saturday and Sunday , nearly 300 entries participated , with Zack Gosnell taking top honors on Saturday night behind the wheel of his roadster . On Sunday , Bill Lyons went the distance in his Chevy Nova .
“ We want to take successful races like the Twin 10k ’ s and expand them . We ’ ve got plenty of paved parking here , but we ’ d like to lay even more asphalt . We want to grow this place at just the right pace ; we don ’ t want to get too big too fast ,” Keys says .
In addition to bracket and grudge races , Keys and team have several no-prep events on the 2021 schedule . While most of the racing at US 41 is contested on the eighth mile , the entire 1,320 does see some action on test-and-tune night , and also with a local group called Pro E85 , which races on the quarter mile using a trio of indexes .
“ Speaking of the racing surface , we ’ ve done a contract this year with Brandon Mass of Mass Traction ,” Keys adds . “ He ’ s who did the regrind on the track earlier this year . Brandon is the real deal , and getting him on board is probably the best move we ’ ve made .”
Currently , US 41 Dragstrip is open Friday through Sunday to the public , with private track rent-als mid-week .
“ When we ’ re not racing , I ’ ve got my guys working on various projects during the week – it ’ s a lot of hours of work ,” Keys says . “ Good things are happening here , and we ’ re gonna grow this place , there ’ s no doubt about it .” DI
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