The East Coast Auto Electric Top Alcohol Funny Car is seen at the starting line before its second-round race at the Uni-Select Auto Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading.
Some guys go fishing. Others hunt. Chuck Anderika races funny cars.
In the Top Fuel racing world of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), most race teams are professionally owned and operated. But the Duryea-based Anderika Race Team is an independent one, and racing is just a hobby for the veteran car owner and his crew.
A successful hobby.
The Duryea resident – along with his crew of brother and driver John Anderika of Wyoming, fuel chief Frank Kalinowski of Ringtown, and crew members Ron Pesontini and Billy Wruble of Duryea, and Kyle Wruble of Suscon – advanced their East Coast Auto Electric Top Alcohol Funny Car to the Uni-Select Auto Plus NHRA Nationals Funny Car semifinals last weekend at the Maple Grove Raceway outside of Reading. The national event will be shown today at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.
“It is basically a hobby, but it is also a competitive sport,” said the 60-year old owner of East Coast Auto Electric which builds alternators and starters at its location in Duryea. “We have fun with it.”
The Anderika Race Team has more than just fun. The group has had a successful season, finishing the 2011 season in the Top 25 of Top Alcohol Funny Car points in the entire country.
At Maple Grove, John Anderika drove the East Coast Funny Car to wins over two top-five cars in the country with wins over Mickey Ferro and Tony Bartone in the first two rounds. In the semis, the Anderika Race Team turned in its best time of the weekend with a 5.58 e.t. at 254 mph.
“We have been racing this car since 2006, and this is our second time in the semifinals… first time at Maple Grove,” said Chuck Anderika. “We have progressed from years ago and kept moving up in class. The only thing left is Nitro. But that is for the professionals.”
Anderika refers to the race teams that run Top Alcohol Funny Cars for a living. According to the veteran racer, “many don’t have to go to work on Mondays.” Anderika owns one of the few independent teams among the 80 Top Alcohol Funny Car teams on the circuit.
“We have been on ESPN a number of times before, and it is always is a good feeling to get as far as we did when you start with 23 competitive cars – especially as an independent,” said Anderika. “A lot of the cars we are competing against are sponsored cars. We are running against some big bucks, some millionaires. The guy who won the race last weekend is sponsored by a country. Imagine that.
“At Englishtown (NJ) we finished fourth. The three guys ahead of us were sponsored by a country, a billionaire and a multi-millionaire.”