(Photo courtesy of Ryan Ondrejko)
This weekend will find Roslindale resident and drag racer Ryan Ondrejko on the track in Chicago, competing in the 15th annual Route 66 National Hot Rod Association Nationals Jegs All-Stars race.
With two wins so far this summer in racing events, Ondrejko, who works as an engineer by day, as well as running his own graphics design company, is excited to head to Chicago, after experiencing several ups and downs this year.
“The last month has been a complete roller coaster of emotions,” said Ondrejko. “I go from all the excitement of getting a new car, then the misfortune of the engine blowing up in Virginia during qualifying, to coming home and running around like crazy trying to get the spare engine back in time to go to Maple Grove (Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania), then to actually win the event.”
If anyone was born to race, surely it was Ondrejko. He’s the son of a drag racer-turned-chassis builder, John Ondrejko, who owns John’s Racecraft in Brockton and serves as his son’s crew chief. Ondrejko says he grew up with his dad building race cars in their backyard in Roslindale. “He taught me the ropes. I know how everything operates.”
The 27-year-old has been racing for years, winning his first race in 2005 in Super Street, a class that runs 10.90 seconds in the quarter mile. While going to school, he raced from time to time on the National Hot Rod Association divisional level, from Canada to Virginia.
Eventually, he moved up to a Top Sportsman ride where the cars average six seconds at around 200 miles per hour. In 2009, he qualified for his first National Pro Stock race and went on to compete at eight more Pro Stock races that year. But drag racing at the professional level is extremely expensive. Almost every racer needs major sponsors to afford the sport.
To keep racing, Ondrejko turned back to amateur status, but with his brand new 2012 Chevy Camaro, which he calls "a dream come true,” he’s sure to have a good time on the track.
You can follow Ondrejko’s racing exploits on his website, RTO Motorsports.