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Nelke Impresses in ATQMRA Debut

Staff Report | Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

It was not until 10:00 AM race day morning until father Jon Nelke received a call from #02 Bruce/Boyd Chassis car owner Russ Bailey, inquiring to have his son, Jake, race the car up at Bethel Motor Speedway later that afternoon.

Jon, who at the time was working for a client of his South Jersey Roofing Business, had to scramble to put a plan in place.

“While we certainly wish it were under better circumstances, this was a dream opportunity for Jake and I knew we had no choice but to take advantage,” said Jon.

The unfortunate circumstances he is referring to, is Mike Glaser. Glaser, the 2016 ATQMRA Rookie of the Year, was set to get behind the wheel for the first time in a long time after taking a leave of absence as a driver due to health complications. Unfortunately, those complications sparked up again early Saturday morning, not permitting him to drive.

“We were certainly hoping to get Mike in a car this weekend,” stated Russ Bailey. “Mike is a great person, and a great ambassador for the ATQMRA. The unfortunate circumstances that did not allow Mike to race this weekend were out of everyone’s control.”

With the car in the trailer and race ready, Russ put his best foot forward to get the car to the track. He just needed a driver, and someone to get the car to Bethel. The Nelke family was the first family he called.

Jake Nelke, currently a full-time sportsman modified driver at Wall Stadium Speedway, grew up racing .25 midgets with current ATQMRA points leader, and Russ’s son, Joey Bailey.

With an already great relationship between the families and Jake’s established racing resume, the Bailey’s knew Jake was a great candidate to put behind the wheel of the #02 in this unique, last minute scenario.

Due to the timing, the Nelke’s would arrive at Bethel after the conclusion of practice. Speedway officials allowed Jake five warm-up laps to get settled in prior to the heat races. These were not only Jake’s first five laps of the afternoon, they were Jake’s first five laps in a TQ Midget ever.

After starting last in both events due to ATQMRA rules requiring any driver within their first three starts, to start at the rear of the field, it would set the stage for Jake to raise eyebrows for all of those in attendance. A fourth place finish in the heat, and a sixth place finish in the feature, all while not putting a scratch on the car. With two opportunities to drive up through the field, Nelke executed that perfectly with competitive lap times and clean passes, earning the respect of many within the organization.

“Today every lap was such a cool learning experience,” said of Jake post-race. “I really started to feel like I got comfortable by the time the caution (lap 12) came out in the feature.... these cars are a blast to drive! I can’t thank my dad and the Bailey’s for helping put this deal together.”

While there is currently no set time-line for Jake Nelke to get behind the wheel of a TQ Midget again, one would think a plan will be set in place soon to see his return to the organization. For now, Jake will continue to focus on his sportsman modified career at Wall Stadium.

The Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic ATQMRA powered by VP Racing Fuels returns to the track this Saturday, June 22nd, at the Mahoning Valley Speedway for Round 5 of the 2019 championship campaign.

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