Memorial Day is intended to show respect for our fallen. However the weekend days leading up to it are intended for racing, particularly at the local level. Great Lakes Dragaway, the home track of the Midwest Nostalgia Pro Stock Association is no different as they stage one of longest running drag racing events in the nation. Now known as the Memorial Day Classics, the focus of this two day event is on organizations in open competition & match racing, as well as exhibition acts.
Taking part in its second consecutive Memorial Day Classics, the Midwest Nostalgia Pro Stock Association gave the fans an experience to remember, both on the track and in its prominent pit area. Those fans were greeted by nine drivers, their crews & families, and their cars. On hand were Bob Cattalino, Kelly Dill, Hannah Fleischman, Mark Ipsen, Bob Lehor, Dan Manesis, Jim Parks, Josh Parks, Peter Sarauer, Tyler Shenuk and Arlee Williams III. Notable were first time participants Josh Parks in his Nova and Bob Lehor with his “Old Pro” Nova. This was also Hannah Fleischman’s premier weekend since being named to take the wheel of the “Grumpy’s Toy XII” Monza. Also of note, one week after debuting with MNPSA, Tyler Shenuk unveiled a new look for his Firebird. The car is now racing in the “STP” colors that Rickie Smith made famous.
Before the action began each afternoon and between rounds, those fans met with the drivers and their crews, received free t-shirts and posters, and participated in a raffle for free tickets to MNPSA sponsor The Gobbler Theater.
Taking to the track during the main event, it became apparent by Saturday’s Round 2 that youth and enthusiasm would put pressure on middle age with reaction times that would do a pro level driver proud. Sarauer in the “Hillbilly” Camaro (2nd & 3RD Best Leave), Dill in the “lil Cotton Pony” Pinto (4TH Best Leave & Most Consistent) and Shenuk in the “STP” Firebird (Best Leave: .004) deserve special recognition for their prowess on the tree.
The Run of the Weekend goes to Dan Manesis in Sunday’s Round 3. His ET of 8.185 was the weekends quickest and the car ran a booming best of 178.71 MPH. Unfortunately for him it occurred against Kelly Dill, whose skill and car are really coming around. Her superior reactions (.020 RT) and 8.309 ET kept her in front the entire 1320. Weren’t we just talking about youthful enthusiasm? Indeed we were! As John Force once said after being beaten by his hired driver at the time, Tony Pedregon, “I’ve hired my own assassin!”.
Yet winning isn’t the most important thing to MNPSA co-founder Dan Manesis. Bringing on young drivers, presenting a great experience for the fans, and carrying on the attributes that made Pro Stock racing great are. Manesis said at the conclusion of the weekend, “Our group is dedicated to bringing young race car drivers and fans into drag racing. This was a great weekend, where we added Hannah, Tyler and Josh into our group. Special thanks to the hundreds of fans that came to our meet and greet for posters & shirts signed by the race car drivers, you are why we do this. Our gracious thanks to the staff at Great Lakes Dragaway, especially track announcers Mike “The Red Baron” and Mark for telling the fans about our group and calling the races.”
The Midwest Nostalgia Pro Stock Association now takes to the road, and will be traveling to Central Illinois Dragway for the Spring Nostalgia Race on June 4, 2016. Visit the MNPSA webpage to view our full schedule, news, lineup of drivers, photo galleries and more, at MidwestNostalgiaProStockAssociation.com. Also, “Like” our Facebook Page for chat and the latest information.