By: Jim Butcher | Category: Automotive | Issue: September 2015
The MaeHem Racing Team poses with Rolling Thunder, a funny car dragster designed and hand-built over three and half years. The team consists of Paul Bridgewater, Michael Newman and family members, Mark DeMaro and his two nephews, Kris and Scott DeMauro. (Not pictured are driver David Summerton and crew members George Stabler, Will Summerton, and Scott DeMaro.)
When someone says, “funny cars,” do you think of your neighbor’s car? How about your son’s jalopy always needing gas? Wikipedia describes funny cars as “a type of drag racing vehicle and a specific racing class in organized drag racing. Funny cars are characterized by having tilt-up fiberglass or carbon fiber automotive bodies over a custom fabricated chassis, giving them an appearance similar to manufacturers’ showroom models. They have forward-mounted engines, placed in front of the driver, as opposed to dragsters, which place the engine behind the driver.”
Rolling Thunder is a funny car based out of Sapulpa with an 18-gallon tank holding an exotic mixture of alcohol, but is truly powered by love. It can hit 100 miles an hour in 60 feet with 16-inch wheels screaming down the quarter-mile drag strip. The super-charged, highly modified Chevy engine produces 2,500 horse power.
Let’s go back to the four-letter word that motivates the MaeHem Racing Team. L-O-V-E not only powers the car, but is the strong bond that holds the Owasso family and friends together. Mark DeMaro is the heart and soul behind the three and half-year project that designed and created Rolling Thunder. The team name, MaeHem, is named in honor of his late mother, Mae. The primary purpose of the car is to “(1) keep the family together while (2) serving the Lord and (3) giving back to the community and helping kids,” says DeMaro. “My mother was our biggest fan.”
Mark’s life has been entwined in the automotive field since 1973, when he began drag racing. His first car was a modified ’65 Plymouth Valiant with a Barracuda front end.
Car owners and team founders are Scott and Kris Demauro and Mark DeMaro, along with their wives. Scott DeMauro, Mark’s nephew, and the entire crew of Rolling Thunder can’t say enough about the support they and the funny car project receive from their wives. Scott, one of two drivers, admitted the project requires him to spend a lot of time away from home and family. “But this is very good work we do here and we couldn’t do it without approval from our wonderful wives.”
Conception through design to the funny car’s public debut at the Tulsa Raceway on August 15 has taken three and half years. The heart of Rolling Thunder is the powerful Chevy engine, which Paul Bridgewater led in the designing and building of the motor.
Three crew members are Michael Newman, George Stabler, and David Summerton, who shares driving duties with Scott. Kris DeMauro is Scott’s brother and his primary role as a crew member is in fabrication, electrical and engine. He and Uncle Mark are responsible for scheduling the funny car’s visits to charitable events in reaching out to the community.
One of the first charitable groups to benefit from Rolling Thunder is the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides scholarships to the spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled in service to America. The car also will be benefiting Tulsa Youth Services and Hydrants of Hope. MaeHem urges local charities interested in having the funny car dragster on display at an event to contact Mark at 918-640-7244 or Kris at 918-637-0509. The entire crew also voices praise to its sponsors, including Auto Zone, Alloy Welding, DeMaro Speed &Customs, DFA Racing, Sundance Welding and Unique Collision.
Jim Butcher is a retired, award-winning newspaperman who continues to write as a freelance writer and photographer. He owned the Tulsa Front Page weekly and was executive editor to Neighbor Newspapers' 13 metro newspapers. Currently, he writes for Value News and has become a paid assignment screenwriter, along with a University of Oklahoma professor who wrote Brad Pitt's first feature film. His award-winning screenplay is on the historical Osage Indian Murders of the 1920s.
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