14-YEAR OLD NITRO CREWMAN HOLDING HIS OWN
Most 14-year-old boys spend a lot of time playing video games or are glued to their cellphones sending text messages, watching YouTube videos, or engaging in social media.
Dylan Winefsky, 14, doesn’t live that life – at all. He drives a Junior Dragster and has been traveling around the country over the last year working on Terry Haddock’s nitro Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster crews.
“It has been a good experience,” said Dylan. “I’ve learned a lot in the year I have been helping Terry. I enjoy working with everyone and being able to work on cars. I love working on cars because it is something I love doing. I don’t like being inside playing games or anything like that. I would rather be outside working on something.”
Dylan’s love of the sport of drag racing can be traced to his father, Robert Winefsky, who pilots a nitro fuel altered. The elder Winefsky is the owner of Robert’s Car Care in Youngtown, Ariz., near Phoenix.
“I started racing back in high school when I lived in New York,” Robert said. “Long story, short I was building a car, got married and I finished the car and then we had kids and sold the car. When I turned 40, 11 years ago, my wife said ‘Hey do you want to get a Harley for your 40th birthday and I said, no, I want a real race car. I don’t think she knew what I meant, and we built a Fuel Altered.”
Winefsky’s project became more in-depth after he attended a John Force fan cruise around 2009.
“My son and Robert Hight’s daughter (Autumn) were probably the only two kids on the boat because it was a New Year’s Eve thing and we ended up spending a whole bunch of time talking and I started buying parts from them (John Force Racing). That’s how I went from running a 7.60 (second) Fuel Altered to a Nitro Fuel Altered. We started buying blocks and heads from them and switched to nitro and we are running low 6 seconds at around 230 mph.”
The Winefskys have two children, daughter, Lauren, 23, and Dylan.
“I started building the (altered) when Dylan was 4 years old and he has been around this car his whole life,” Robert said. “We ran the car at the WFA (Western Fuel Altereds) as an alcohol car and that’s how we got to know Jim Maroney and all those guys. This is all the kid has ever known. We bought Dylan his first Junior Dragster when he was like 7½ years old and he got his license when he turned 8.”
In 2017, Dylan was the Junior Dragster champion at Wild Horse Motorsports Park in Phoenix. This season, he also won his first Wally at a Division 7 race at Wild Horse.
It was Robert’s friendship with Maroney that got his son hooked up with Haddock’s crew.
“Last year, Jim got his license in Top Fuel and he paid to license in Haddock’s car,” Robert said. “He called me and some other guys he raced with for years and he said Haddock only had a volunteer crew and he didn’t know any of the guys and he said ‘if I pay for you guys to travel will you come and help out with the car?’ I said yes, I will go do that. Dylan and I went and did the Western Swing, except for Denver last year with them and we had a great time. When they came around for Vegas (in the fall of 2018), Jim and Haddock had gone their separate ways and Haddock called me up and asked if Dylan and I wanted to come to Vegas and I said sure. We went to Vegas and then we went to Pomona (Calif.) and then we went to Pomona again and by the time the season’s up this year we will do 15 races.”
With Haddock’s Funny Car and dragster, Dylan mostly does the right-side cylinder heads and he helps former driver/noted tuner Johnny West, who works with Haddock, with anything he may need.
“Working with Johnny is a good thing because he will teach you a lot of stuff and you will learn a lot from him,” Dylan said.
At the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, June 20-23, in Norwalk, Ohio, Dylan’s presence at the starting line with Haddock’s team earned him the nickname, the Nitro Moose. Dylan stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 180 pounds.
“I like the nickname,” Dylan said.
Robert explained how the nickname came about.
“Kevin Stith started this Nitro Moose thing and made T-shirts for him,” Robert said. “We were just out there having a good time and Dylan is just so humble, he has no idea how cool it really is that he is out there doing what he’s doing at his age. Racing is his only sport and he is always working and he’s always ready to go racing. Honestly, if it was wasn’t for him, I would have probably given up the whole Fuel Altered thing two or three years ago. It is a lot of work. We get the car home and the car goes in the garage and I will come home from work on Monday and Dylan already has the heads off the car. We will get home Sunday afternoon and he will unbolt the blower.”
Dylan and Robert’s next event on the NHRA Mello Yello Series with Haddock will be the Mile-High Nationals July 19-21 in Morrison, Colo., at Bandimere Speedway near Denver.
“When I first started I kind of had to pinch myself and now it is just a normal routine,” Dylan said. “I love working on the cars and after we are done, we usually hang out and have a good time. Traveling is cool because you get to go the different tracks and experience the different atmospheres at the track. I’m really looking forward to going to Denver. I’ve never been there before, and it just seems like a nice track because it is up in the mountains.”
Following the Mile-High Nationals, Dylan and Robert will be in Brainerd, Minn. (Aug. 15-18), and the U.S. Nationals (Aug. 28-Sept. 2).
“We are going to finish the season with Haddock and more than likely we are going to do it again next year,” Robert said. “If we stick it out for a couple of years then Dylan will have the opportunity probably to license in one of Haddock’s cars,” Robert said. “There really is no set goal. We have talked about next summer, when he turns 16, putting the Fuel Altered back to an alcohol car and let him start making some burnouts and some passes. If he doesn’t drive a Big Show pro car, he will be driving a Fuel Altered. When he turns 16, he’s going to drive that car, he’s already earned that right.”
Dylan is keeping his future in drag racing in perspective.
“I want to license one day in a Top Fuel dragster,” he said. “Driving the Junior Dragster lets me experience being in the car and learn how to move up the ranks in racing.”