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Joe C. Maynard Ready for NHRA Debut Aboard JCM Racing/Leatherwood Distillery A/Fuel Dragster

Maynard Slated to Run Full Season Campaign in NHRA’s Top Alcohol Dragster Category in 2024

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 19, 2024) – In many ways, Joe C. Maynard has been preparing to drive an A/Fuel Dragster for much of his adult life, and at the upcoming Division 2 event at Gainesville Raceway, better known as the “Baby Gators,” he will have his first shot at an NHRA Wally trophy when he makes his drag racing debut in the competitive Top Alcohol Dragster category.

While the event, which kicks off Thursday, Feb. 29, will mark the first time Maynard has staged a 4,000-horsepower machine in competition, prior seat time and life experiences have the NHRA newbie feeling well-prepped for his new drag racing venture.


“Making my NHRA debut is something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” said Maynard, who will drive the JCM Racing/Leatherwood Distillery A/Fuel Dragster throughout his 2024 rookie campaign. “I’ve always loved racing and fast cars, and being out at the track these past few years has really got the competitive juices flowing.”


Before becoming involved in NHRA Drag Racing with his family in 2021, Maynard, son of JCM Racing team patriarch Joe E. Maynard, served as a member of the U.S. Army for 20 years. The former Chief Warrant Officer Four did eight combat tours where he manned the controls of various military helicopters, performing combat maneuvers as a Black Hawk pilot. His exceptional aviation skills led to his being promoted to an instructor pilot role in addition to receiving multiple air medals throughout his time spent in service. Maynard’s extensive military training has provided him with the innate ability to quickly assess and react to high-pressure situations, a skill that will undoubtedly come in handy while behind the wheel of a machine that regularly exceeds speeds of 275-mph. 


“I can’t wait to get out there and compete,” Maynard added. “To be able to run a full season and have the opportunity to compete for a championship in my first year is unbelievable. Since I retired from the military, I haven’t been able to really compete, and this is a different type of competition. That being said, I’m not naïve to think that I don’t need as much seat time as possible at this point. I am a true rookie in every sense when it comes to driving an A/Fuel car, but I do believe that having spent so many years operating in some of the most extreme, tense situations has trained me to keep a cool head and remain calm under pressure, which I feel will translate to driving.”


Maynard is no stranger to the cockpit of a race car. Before being bitten by the drag racing bug, he competitively raced at local dirt tracks in his home state of Tennessee, and in 2020, he was crowned Clarksville Speedway’s Pure Mini series champion. Maynard attended Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School in 2023 where he licensed in Super Comp. The need for speed continued to persist, and Maynard soon returned to Frank Hawley’s, this time to learn the ins and outs of a Top Alcohol Dragster. He went on to earn his Top Alcohol Dragster license in October 2023 with JCM Racing teammate and driving mentor Tony Schumacher by his side to offer guidance.


Maynard’s plan for the 2024 season is to compete on a full-time basis, including in several divisional events and 10 national events, which would make him eligible to contend for a championship. His entry, the JCM Racing/Leatherwood Distillery A/Fuel Dragster, is owned and operated by Samsel Racing. Robin and Tony Samsel most recently helped tune JCM Racing Vice President Mike Lewis to a No. 1 qualifier and runner-up finish during Lewis’ stint behind the wheel in 2023.


When not busy with his day-to-day role of overseeing the JCM Racing driver development program, which recently announced the addition of seven Jr. drag racers, Maynard has been preparing himself as much as possible for his upcoming competition debut.


“I’ve been practicing my reaction times and doing a lot of visualization techniques, such as my staging procedures,” said Maynard, whose son, Shelby Maynard, recently made his NHRA debut aboard a Jr. Roadster. “I’m ready to get strapped in, but I’m also very aware of being careful not to allow ego to get the best of me. If I’m ever at a point where I’m in the car and I feel like I’m in over my head or don’t know where I am on the racetrack, I’ll do the smart thing and lift off the throttle. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by great drivers that I can lean on for guidance. I’m very much looking forward to next weekend; it can’t come soon enough.”


Qualifying for the “Baby Gators” kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 29, and continues through Friday and Saturday morning. Eliminations begin Saturday morning with the event champion crowned on Sunday, March 3. Maynard is scheduled to make test runs prior to the race weekend.


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