Permatex/Follow A Dream TA/FC team looks forward to return to Maple Grove Raceway, the track that changed team owner Jay Blake’s life
MARSTONS MILLS, Massachusetts (September 19, 2017) – The Permatex/Follow A Dream Top Alcohol Funny Car team had a rough outing at this past weekend’s NHRA Carolina Nationals in suburban Charlotte, N.C.
The Jay Blake-owned team reached the quarterfinals but bowed out when the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro spun the tires at the starting line and was never able to recover.
“The whole team did a great job, we just were fighting a little consistency,” Blake said. “But it’s coming around and we feel good about it.
“We need some real good runs and that last run (at Charlotte), while we’re not exactly positive of what the issue was, we live to fight another day.”
But there were good things that came out of the Charlotte race, among them a very uplifting speaking engagement for Blake at the headquarters of legendary NASCAR organization Hendrick Motorsports on Wednesday, Sept. 13.
Blake imparted a prophetic and inspirational message to a crowd of nearly 150 HMS employees as part of a weekly Bible study at the organization’s main campus, just two blocks from both zMAX Dragway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“That was a great day,” Blake said. “(HMS chaplain) Donnie Floyd and Sandy took great care of us. We had a great visit and Bill McKnight from Clevite was with us.”
With Charlotte in the Follow A Dream team’s rearview mirror, now it’s on to one of the most meaningful places in Blake’s life, Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pa., for this weekend’s Dodge NHRA Nationals.
It was 19 years ago while sitting in the grandstands at Maple Grove that Blake, who had lost his sight a year earlier in a tragic industrial accident, got the inspiration to decide and follow his own dream.
That was the seed that took root to become the hugely successful Follow A Dream race team and its inspirational motivational program.
“Maple Grove is just a special place,” Blake said. “There’s great people, it’s a great track, it always brings back great memories of deciding to start Follow A Dream, there’s just so many things wrapped into it.”
As a racer, Blake and his team now return to Maple Grove for the 18th straight year to once again challenge the quarter-mile for what he hopes will lead the team to break through for its first-ever win there.
“It’s always fun and always great to come back and race at Maple Grove,” Blake said. “We’ve got the car and the team to do it.”
To illustrate how important Maple Grove is to him both on and off the track, Blake was asked what his life would be like today if it wasn’t for that fateful day at Maple Grove where Follow A Dream began as an idea and soon germinated into an incredible story of success, overcoming adversity and being an inspiration to hundreds of thousands that have served as witness to its message.
“Nobody’s ever asked me that question,” Blake said. “Everybody always asks ‘What if you never had your accident?’ I have no idea what I’d be doing today if it wasn’t for my accident and starting Follow A Dream.
“I just tell people it all happened this way. You can’t change it. That was an amazing weekend that started so many amazing things that have happened over the years since then. Maple Grove is just awesome.”
And to see how Follow A Dream has grown and become such a success both on and off the track, Blake is humbled and honored that so many have not only supported and cheered over the years for his team, like primary sponsor Permatex as well as all of the team’s associate sponsors, but that FAD has made an impact on so many people’s lives.
“I never would have imagined 19 years ago that Follow A Dream would become as big as it has become,” Blake said. “We dreamed of winning one race. Now we dream of winning more races and championships.
“The biggest thing is the people that we’ve had an opportunity to inspire and change and really make a difference, that’s been just an amazing opportunity.
“As weird as this may sound, things happen the way they’re supposed to happen. I really believe that, just the way it’s all happened and has come together, I am blessed to do what I do. It’s just awesome.”
While the Follow A Dream car has never won at Maple Grove, Blake is hoping that changes this weekend once and for all.
“The ultimate goal is to win and that’s the hard part,” Blake said. “You want this one so bad. The reality is that it doesn’t matter how much you want it, you have to earn it.
“You just keep trying, never give up, never quit. What’s all the more surprising is that when you look at the (Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series East Region), the only track we’ve never won at is Maple Grove.
“That’s an incredible thing, an incredible accomplishment – and yet it’s baffling that it’s true. Some day, we’ll win Maple Grove because we’ll never stop trying! It will be the ultimate win for us.”
While Maple Grove is slated to be the final race of the season for the FAD team, a strong finish there could potentially lead to some additional NHRA races upcoming, Blake said.
“If we win this one, we may try and go west (for season-ending NHRA national events at places like Texas Motorplex, The Strip at Las Vegas and the season finale at Auto Club Raceway).
Entering this weekend, Follow A Dream driver Phil Burkart Jr. has clinched the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series’ East Region championship and is No. 6 in the LODRS National standings, just 17 points out of the top-five.
“If Maple Grove is our last race of the year, we’re going to go out and do what we do every race: do our best and go for the win,” Blake said. “We want to go out on as high a note as we can, and you can’t go out on a higher note than with a win.”