Certain races are synonymous in the Midwest. You have the US Nationals Labor Day weekend at Indy, the Meltdown Drags in the middle of the summer at Byron, the World Series (now that it has returned) at Cordova, and Memorial Day Weekend you can guarantee that there will be a show at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wisconsin. This year did not disappoint as the Da Grove brought together a variety of racecars to entertain the crowd.
Fans of Pro Mods were treated to the Chicago Wiseguys a series that is a “run what you brung and hope you brung enough” doorslammer series that runs in what else…. but a Chicago Style format. The Wiseguys make two qualifying runs and then bring back the quick four for the semi-finals. The winners of the semis then move onto the final round. The Wiseguys put on a display with runs in the 6.30 range at over 200 mph.
In addition to the Wiseguys, Great Lakes Dragaway also booked in the popular Pro E85 series. For those of you that are not familiar with the Pro E85 class this is a another doorslammer series, but these are not Pro Mods. Instead these are basically Super Stocks with power adders that run on an 8.90 index. So think of it this way. It is a Super Comp door class without throttle stops, with nitrous, blowers, or you name it. Large wheelstands are the common theme for many of the series regulars.
The legendary Shake, Rattle, and Run of Dick Messino, with Mike Lopez at the controls
For the nostalgia fans at heart there were a few different groups on the grounds. In attendance were the Nostalgia Super Stock Inc, the Midwest Gassers, and the Midwest Nostalgia Pro Stock Association. Also on hand were America’s 1320 Legends which boasts front-engine dragsters and altereds. There was a match race between Bill Anderson’s “Roadshow” blown alcohol Camaro funny car and the legenday “Shake, Rattle, and Run” of Dick Messino. No nostalgia event would be complete without nitro and Great Lakes had 6 nitro burners on hand including a match race between Bazz Young in the “Down Under Thunder” Camaro Flopper against Doc Halladay and his “Telstar” Arrow. The four slingshots included Tim Cullinan, Diamond Dave Miller, Jason Greenwood, and Jim Young in the “Young Guns” fueler. Also brought in to entertain the fans was Richard Hutchins and his classic “Chevy Rebellion” wheelstander, as well as several jets to heat up the night.
Doc Halladay in "Telstar" - Bazz Young leaving a part behind
Bazz Young and Doc Halladay got the match racing started. The first race saw Halladay jump out to an early lead after Young had something come off the car forcing him to lift. Halladay kept the throttle open and shoved the Arrow through the lights with a 6.171 at 225.39 mph. Next up was the unusual pairing of Anderson’s flopper versus the “Shake, Rattle, and Run” doorslammer. Mike Lopez and the “Shake” were way out on Anderson with over a car length lead as they passed the tree. However, Anderson did not give up and tracked the doorslammer down passing him in the lights with a 7.44 to the “Shake’s” 7.66. The first slingshot tangle saw both Wisconsin natives Jim Young and Jason Greenwood go at it. Both drivers were making their season debut and preparing their cars for the upcoming National Hot Rod Reunion. Young left the line first, meanwhile Greewood’s digger went up in smoke before the 60’ marker. Greenwood got on and off the throttle, but could not keep pace with Young as he set a new track record for Nostalgia Top Fuel with a 5.761 at 234.80 miles per hour to Greenwood’s slowing 7.487 at 174.11 miles per hour. Two more shorty-bodied slingshots were up next as Diamond Dave Miller competed against Tim Cullinan. Miller left with the front wheels hanging in the air, but both drivers were forced to lift just 100’ out as their dragsters lost traction and ultimately crossed the stripe with 9 and 10 second passes respectively.
Legendary Fuel Coupe pilot Doc Halladay - Bazz Young at the wheel
The evening session again brought the nitro burners out to do battle. Again “Down Under Thunder” and “Telstar” kicked things off. Both cars left together, but Young went up in smoke around 100’ and lifted looking like the win would be handed to Halladay. However, Halladay experienced handling issues and went mowing for blocks down the centerline. Halladay crossed the finish line first with 6.854 at 182.40 miles per hour, but lost the battle as he collected several cones on the way to the stripe.
Side by Side slingshots as two former big show Top Fuel pilots Dave Miller and Tim Cullinan go head to head
In the battle of the slingshots, Diamond Dave again paired off against Tim Cullinan. Unfortunately both cars smoked the hides though Miller lifted last and coasted through the finish line with a 8.225 at 124.51 to best Cullinans 15 second ET. Jim Young, took a bye run as Greenwood and spun a bearing during his initial pass and could not make the call. Young was out to better his record run from earlier, but also experienced traction issues pedaling the car once, yet still taking it through the traps at 6.166 at 215.46 miles per hour.
The Young Guns fueler moments before the track record run of a 5.761
Unfortunately, the winners of the other classes could not be crowned Saturday evening as an on track incident with a jet funny car damaged the track’s timing system and ended the racing for the evening. Repairs were eventually made and the track was able to continue the show on Sunday.