Longtime friends Pete Maduri and Bob Bauer Jr. have partnered up on bracket racing ventures in the past, but nothing as ambitious as chasing a world championship in the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster program. In their first year racing together in the class, Maduri, Bauer and tuner Robert Bauer III earned their first win and the 2021 world championship.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to compete in the class,” Maduri said. “To be able to win a world championship in our first year was more than I ever expected.”
Maduri reached the semifinals at the season-opening East Coast Nationals presented by FuelTech, where engine issues prevented a representative run. Maduri admitted a driver error cost the team in the opening round at the next race, the Stroud Safety Doorslammer Derby presented by Classic Graphix, but the group bounced back with a big win at their home race, the DeCerbo Construction American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
“Norwalk is probably my favorite track, so to win there was really special,” said Maduri, who lives in the Buffalo area along with the Bauers. “Norwalk was really the start of the winning. It was good to get some laps under our belts and get some experience dialing the car. I really didn’t feel like I learned how to drive the car properly until that final round at Norwalk. That’s kind of where all the confidence built. I was able to see the race a little better. I’m not used to going that fast. I’ve been 4.40s in a dragster, but never 3.70s. That race set the stage for the rest of the season.”
Driving the Bauer family’s ProCharger-boosted K100 Fuel Treatment/Dynabrade dragster, Maduri followed up the win with a runner-up finish at the North vs. South Shootout presented by Line-X in Maryland. He suffered an untimely first-round exit at the Summer Shootout presented by Ty-Drive, as he knew he had to skip eliminations at the following race, the P2 Contracting Northern Nationals presented by P2 Racing at Maple Grove Raceway, so he could attend his sister’s wedding.
“It was tough losing first round at Virginia knowing that we were already two rounds down and we were going to Maple Grove to get on the ladder and hope that Michael White didn’t put too much distance in between us,” Maduri said. “Going into GALOT, we knew we had to make up three rounds in two four-round races.”
Everything clicked for Maduri at DragWars presented by Proline Racing at GALOT Motorsports Park. He qualified No. 1 and lined up against White in the second round. He used a .001 reaction time to defeat White, then raced on to take runner-up honors behind outgoing world champion Steve Furr.
The championship battle between Maduri and White came down to race day Sunday at the Brian Olson Memorial World Finals presented by ProCharger. White lost in the second round, leaving the door open for Maduri to swipe the title. Maduri won his second-round match, then turned on another win light in the semifinals to secure the championship.
“That was definitely the most intense round of my driving career, just knowing that the whole season was coming down to this one single round,” said Maduri, who lost in the final round to 2019 world champion Kellan Farmer. “Racing on my own, I usually only worried about myself, but this was an entire family effort and I knew all the weight was on my shoulders to get that one win light. There was a lot of emotions.”
Maduri raced as a teammate to Bob Bauer Jr., who drives a supercharged ’69 Camaro in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja, while Bauer’s 25-year-old son, Robert Bauer III, tunes both cars.
“Robert is a phenomenal driver and he really has a passion for the tuning,” Maduri said. “He’s definitely learning this whole thing in a hurry. We were on an expedited program all year.”
“It was a complete team effort,” added Maduri, who also thanked his sponsor and employer, Dynabrade Power Tools. “[The Bauers] earned it every bit as much as I did and more. It’s an honor to be able to team up with them. We also had my wife, Jennifer, and our little baby, Addison, who’s only 18 months old, at every single race this year. We were hitting the road hard traveling the country.”
Maduri plans to defend his title, while Bauer will pursue a matching championship in Elite Top Sportsman.
The PDRA will celebrate Maduri and its other 2021 world champions at the annual PDRA Awards Banquet on Friday, Dec. 10 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.