If a fan blinks, there is a chance to miss the lightning speed of Wolfe Racing’s Camaro in one of the National Hot Rod Association Pro Modified series events as the parachute zips open ending the five seconds of horsepower driven excitement on a quarter mile track.
“I don’t have time to think. In five seconds, the ride is over,” Wolfe Racing co-owner and driver Dwayne Wolfe remarked. “It’s a very humbling sport. You can go from hero to zero just like that.”
Moorefield native Dwayne Wolfe has been sparking the flames to success reaching the elite series of the NHRA last season and made an impeccable impression to earn the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Rookie of the Year honors.
“It is truly an honor to win Rookie of the Year in the NHRA Pro Mod Series simply because it is boded on by the drivers of the series. We are running with the best-of-the-best in the world now and to have them recognized me and our team as the best newcomer in the series is truly a huge accomplishment for us. We are a small team that is proud to be from a small town. We have dreamed for many years of running at the NHRA-level and we didn’t really think we would get to this point. We have worked extremely hard for years and finally made it. It shows that you can do anything if you set your mind to it and work hard for it,” Wolfe said.
Before a race, Dwayne Wolfe and his crew puts in 40-60 hours of preparation work for the races each time in addition to making minor adjustments after each session for optimal performance.
Dwayne Wolfe (1992) and brother Matt Wolfe (1994) are Moorefield High School alumni and co-owners of Wolfe Racing.
Not only being behind the wheel at the race track, Dwayne Wolfe is the chief mechanic of the 2018 Camaro built by Jerry Bickel Race Cars. He oversees every change made to the car and ensures that it is done correctly.
Wolfe’s brother Matt is the Wolfe Racing team’s crew chief and tuner of the car.
Dwayne resides in Moorefield and is the current owner of Wolfe’s Garage which was passed down to him from his parents Steve and Martha Wolfe, while Matt is the Senior Director of Engineering at Intuitive Surgical Inc. in Blacksburg, Va.
“Dwayne and I were both around cars growing up with the family business. Dwayne always had a much stronger interest in cars and me less so (for some reason), but the interest for me came when Dwayne started to get into high performance cars and then into racing. I started hanging around it more and my interest grew from there,” Wolfe Racing Co-Owner and Crew Chief/Tuner Matt Wolfe commented.
“I studied engineering at WVU and continued to be involved in racing with Dwayne during that time. It became pretty obvious to me that a race car is just one large engineering problem and the quicker/faster it goes, the more complex the problem becomes. That is when I realized that the racing was a perfect blend of what Dwayne does (mechanical and automotive technician work) and what I do (engineering). It doesn’t work without both of those elements being handled appropriately. To put it into perspective, our dad once said that we are dangerous together because what one of us doesn’t know, the other one does…that is an extremely accurate summary of the two of us. We are complementary of one another and work very well together.”
The Wolfe brothers have been threw several iterations of vehicles in their passion to reach the pinnacle of the NHRA world of race car driving.
Back in 2014, Dwayne Wolfe drove a 2002 Firebird during competitions as a member of the North East Outlaw ProMod Association en route to winning the NEOPMA championship title that season.
Wolfe was racing in small tracks in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia during that time frame before moving up to the major leagues competing in big city racing venues held in Charlotte, Indianapolis, Bristol and Orlando.
“My first NHRA race was at Bristol, I have been there several times with my wife to watch the races, so when I actually was sitting at the starting line getting ready to go and seeing all the fans in the stands, I knew the dream finally came true,” Dwayne Wolfe stated.
During the 2016 racing circuit for the NEOPMA, Wolfe was driving in a 1968 body designed Camaro with the chassis built in 2014 which was strong enough to ride along the newer models with a Mike Janis Supercharger equipped engine with 3,000-3,200 horsepower.
Wolfe set a career best time in 2016 at the Maryland International Raceway in Mechanichsville, Md. running a time of 5.85 going 243.42 mph which was the highest track mph in the qualifying round.
The President’s Cup defending champion from Kentucky, Billy Harper, set a ew ProMod world record with a time of 5.832 during that same race.
One of the reasons to switch to the Camaro was for the aerodynamics and economics.
Fast forward to 2019 and Wolfe Racing was in a brand new 2018 Camaro with a bright orange flame on the side which was eye-catching compared to the subtle black paint of the 1968 version which was dubbed ‘Precious” by one of the racing circuit photographers.
Matt Wolfe as an engineer and head crew chief was proud to share the details of the 2018 Camaro that features a body made completely of carbon fiber, a 526 cubic inch Hemi-style engine, a 14-71 high felid helix supercharger, built by three-time Pro Mod World Champion Mike Janis and boasts a torque converter – equipped with 3-speed Lenco transmission.
An important thing for personnel near the starting line is wearing ear protection, because the noise is deafening coming from the Camaro’s engine.
Starting the 2019 NHRA Rookie of the Year campaign, the Camaro’s rolling chassis had only seen eight passes being newly assembled for action.
The 1968 Camaro engine and transmission is what now became housed in the 2018 model and the national touring series was electrifying.
Dwayne and Matt were ready for the jump in to the Pro Modified series of the National Hot Rod Association sponsored by E3 Spark Plugs which included the best drivers from around the world with the quickest and fastest cars showcased on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2.
Driving six seconds is considered slow in this drag racing which would still make Winchester Avenue look like a speck of dust in the rear view mirror.
Most of the vehicles on the track post a sub 5.8 second speed in all the competitions.
Wolfe Racing competed in four racing during the rookie season going to Bristol, Tenn., Norwalk, Ohio, Indianapolis, Ind. and Charlotte, N.C.
Letting the atmosphere sink in and learning the intricate aspects of the major racing circuit style helped Wolfe Racing gain the knowledge and experience needed to capture success.
Unfortunately, Dwayne Wolfe and the team failed to qualify at Bristol (0.15 seconds shy) and Norwalk, but the latter race nearly made the cut being edged out by 0.002 seconds which was an awakening of how much the hard work was paying off, noted Matt in discussing what needed to be done in future races.
Dwayne’s 19-year old son Logan Wolfe has been a member of the crew for years as well as family friend Jon Hill who both help make necessary adjustments.
The tide began to shift in favor of the Yellow Jacket Camaro ready to sting the rest of the pack in Indianapolis.
The race in Indianapolis was the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals which is the biggest and most elite drag race in the world.
Wolfe Racing earned a 12th seed in the qualifying round and pulled off an upset against the fifth-ranked car in the first round of the elimination bracket.
Dwayne set a personal record time of 5.79 seconds at a top speed of 247 mph in the winning slot.
In the second round, Wolfe matched up against his friend and engine-builder Mike Janis.
Janis has always been a strong supporter of the Wolfe Racing team and picked up the victory as Wolfe struggled down the lane with a tire shake, a phenomena that occurs when the car has more power than can be applied to the track according to Matt Wolfe that suited the roaring speed made earlier.
Any slight problem can mess up a run on the track at any given time.
“Indy was very special because a good friend had taken me there many years ago to watch the races and that was the first time I had ever been to the real drag races. When I qualified and won the first round it was unbelievable, at the level we are now just to qualify is like winning the race, the level of competition is remarkable. The guys I race with now are all professional racers, many of them just race for a living, so it is really humbling to be accepted by them and thought to be one of them,” Dwayne Wolfe said.
The next competition was in Charlotte for the Wolfe family and this time the racing gods powered up the engine for another fireball run of 5.79 seconds to qualify for 11th place in the field.
A rain delay postponed the race and Wolfe was put in an unlucky lane as all eight cars failed to complete the race losing in the first round.
At the end of the season, Dwayne Wolfe was recognized in Las Vegas, Nev. as the NHRA E3 Spark Plugs Rookie of the Year.
*Information provided by Wolfe Racing Co-Owner and Crew Chief Matt Wolfe