Hot Rod Deluxe - - Roddin’ Scene - —BOB MCCLURG

After we flew five hours from Los An­ge­les to Chicago, news of a weather front mov­ing through the Great Lakes Re­gion wasn’t what we wanted to hear. Press­ing for­ward up I-90 in af­ter­noon traf­fic to­wards By­ron, Illi­nois, to at­tend the Ninth An­nual Melt­down Drags, our thoughts were with past Melt­down events and how much fun we’d had cov­er­ing them. In to­day’s struc­tured world of mo­tor­sports, the Melt­down Drags are some­thing of a rar­ity. No elim­i­na­tors, no record runs or qual­i­fy­ing brack­ets, no huge cash pay­outs or tro­phies. And above all, no whin­ing. The ba­sic premise is just go out there, be safe, and have fun!

Sanc­tioned by Vin­tage Drag Rac­ing 101 and manned by such ded­i­cated Mid­west­ern gasser en­thu­si­asts as Eric and Jeff Koop­mein­ers, Paul Ziels­dorf, Art Zangerle, Tom Bucek, Steve Lib­erto, and “Smokey Moe” Petersen, the Melt­down Drags also fea­tures a car show, a swap meet, and Gasser Al­ley, where you may run across a vin­tage gasser or al­tered on dis­play from the by­gone era. Heck, there is even a pinup-girl con­test, won this year by Cas­san­dra Hicks.

The event also at­tracts its share of luminaries from back in the day, in­clud­ing fea­tured Lakes Gassers, Brew City Gassers, Nos­tal­gia Gasser Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, South­ern Out­law Gassers, North­ern In­di­ana Gassers, Geezer Gassers, South­east Gassers, South­ern Gassers, Mid Amer­i­can Willys Club, Straight Axle Mafia, Twisted Pis­tons, Tin Butch­ers, Nos­tal­gia Su­per Stocks, Bor­der Ban­dits, Go­pher State Tim­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, No Car Club, and oth­ers. Talk about a slice of vin­tage drag rac­ing Amer­i­cana!

Strip pro­moter and track owner B.J. Vangsness and his crew had to fight 3 inches of rain on Fri­day re­peat­edly prep­ping the track a whop­ping 12 times, but they were not to be de­terred. As for the rac­ing it­self, it be­came nec­es­sary to shorten the mea­sured dis­tance from a quar­ter to an eighth of a mile on both Fri­day and Satur­day for safety rea­sons (rac­ing late into both nights). But none of the 10,374 spec­ta­tors (which in­cluded vis­i­tors from Swe­den, Aus­tralia, and Great Bri­tain) seemed to mind, as the ac­tual show it­self was on the start­ing line. Then with a dry track sur­face, quar­ter-mile rac­ing re­sumed on Sun­day.

Melt­down 2018 was a rous­ing suc­cess in spite of Old Man Weather. If you like what you see here, start mak­ing plans to at­tend the 10th an­niver­sary edi­tion of the Melt­down Drags July 19-21, 2019.



ON THE BACK BUMPER: The un­of­fi­cial wheel­stander award went to Don Moyer and his 401 Amc–pow­ered, (that’s right) Rebel Reaper fiber­glass B/gas 1941 Willys coupe. He pulled bumper-drag­ging wheel­ies on ev­ery run.

(NOT) THE PITS: Come hell or (al­most lit­er­ally) high wa­ter, the Melt­down Drags pits were bustling with ac­tiv­ity through­out the week­end. More than 390 com­peti­tors par­tic­i­pated in front of a record at­ten­dance of 10,374 spec­ta­tors.

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