FOR FRICKE AND FINKE, FUN COMES FIRST IN THE TAD PITS
Chemistry. In drag racing, chemistry plays an important role in pretty much everything that happens on the track. Racers mix fuel with expert precision; the slightest change in humidity may send crew members scurrying to make necessary adjustments; fluids are carefully weighed and measured. However, most teams will agree, it takes a different kind of chemistry, on and off the track, to be successful in this sport. Chemistry among the crew is vitally important. The formula has to be just right. After all, combining personalities, egos, temperaments and competitive drives, can be a recipe for disaster in normal, day-to-day functions. Throw in the intensity of NHRA Championship Drag Racing and the chances for combustion multiply.
Top Alcohol Dragster driver Jackie Fricke feels that she’s struck gold with the chemistry of her crew. In fact, she credits the chemistry and camaraderie of her crew for the improvement she’s made over the past few years. As she eyes the ultimate prize in 2022, Fricke has been maniacal in strategizing and preparing for the season. Her crew chief and car owner, John Finke, has been championing her at every turn.
“John is my best friend. We are on the phone with each other almost daily,” said Fricke. “He left no stone unturned preparing for this season.”
While the Fricke-Finke machine started competing regularly in 2015, the duo have been friends since 2007. That friendship became the base for a solid working relationship. Fricke says that Finke leads their team with thoughtfulness and respect. He puts his trust in everyone who works to make their operation run smoothly, including his driver. He continues to teach Fricke how to tune and manage these complex engines.
“I love working on the car. I love the tuning aspect of it, whenever John lets me try something on my own, I’m like a little kid. If I have an idea, he’s pretty receptive,” said Fricke.
Above all, Finke makes sure that everyone remembers, drag racing is supposed to be fun. They have a “no yelling” rule in their pit, working to ensure that everyone keeps their cool even when the pressure is high. Finke encourages everyone to keep their eye on enjoying the excitement of the sport. He even takes the crew on fun adventures as they travel across the country from race to race. For example, last year on the way home from a race, they drove by a lake. Realizing they had a little time to kill, Finke stopped to rent a boat and floaties so they could soak up some sun. It’s not uncommon for him to take time out for fun activities like helicopter rides, tours and they always don costumes on Halloween. Fricke is quick to note, “He’s a blast to work with.”
Finke’s leadership skills and quiet confidence are paramount to the chemistry of the team. So much so that Fricke calls it her “forever crew.” They are tight on and off the track. As in many sportsman racing teams, it’s a family sport. John Ausherman works for the team full time, driving the rig from event to event, maintaining equipment and managing operations. Al Blake takes care of the bottom end. Fricke’s sister, Amy Iacono, manages records, meals for the team and a variety of trackside duties. Her nieces, Taylor Nobile and Tori Iacono handle the team’s social media and marketing.