The Green Light Falls on Byron Dragway’s Summer Thunder

Byron Dragway

The Midwest Nostalgia Pro Stock Association began the month of August with some thunder. Summer Thunder that is, at Byron Dragway. This late summer exhibition event is a treat for the fans, with a program that features AA Fuel Dragsters, the Chicago Wise Guys, Chicagoland Super Stocks, Midwest Drag Radial Association, and of course Nostalgia Pro Stock!

Bob & Jesse

With us at Byron were teams of Kelly Dill, Dan Manesis, Jim Parks, Josh Parks, Tyler Shenuk, John Sylos and Bob Unger. Bob Lehor, our race coordinator also did double duty, also serving as Jesse Branham’s driver in the Hillbilly Racing Camaro. This race was also unique as six members of the Paying Tribute To The Legends group were also on hand. And unlike past Summer Thunder events, this time the opportunity to race against one another presented itself. We enthusiastically welcomed that opportunity.

Tech Line

The day began in the tech line, where Byron Dragway’s Randy Simpson and his team made sure that everyone’s car met all safety standards

Red Rat Burnout

Jim Parks was among those that chose to make a test pass early in the afternoon. Here the “Red Rat” gets a little um, “squirrely” on the burnout. Despite additional drama on the run, Parks still ran a promising 8.86 ET at 157 MPH.

Rodney & Tyler

After Round 1 matches were coordinated, the first pairing to take to the track was Tyler Shenuk in the STP Firebird and “Jungle” George Kubis in the “Billy the Kidd” Arrow. We’re used to seeing Allie Shenuk back Tyler into the beams, but with her away, Rodney Daniels took over. While more than up to the task, Rodney obviously had to get used to Tyler’s quick back-up procedure….

Rd 1 Tyler v Kubis

With front tires off the track for the first 80′, George looked to have the Hemi powered Plymouth storming. But Tyler had the upper hand with a .003 reaction time and a quicker ET of 8.891 to Kubis’ 8.964.

Rd 1 Roppo v Pappas

Next were Michael Roppo in the Rod Shop Firebird and Mark Pappas in the Reher-Morrison-Sheperd Camaro. Roppo reacted first and carried the Firebird through the traps first as well, 7.830 to 7.841.

Rd 1 Parks v Ruth

The Jim Parks’ “Red Rat” Vega and Mike Ruth in the Bob Glidden Fairmont match was highly anticipated. Parks left on his old friend, but the lengthy wheelstand cost him as Ruth’s Ford went by the eye catching Vega early. Ruth for the win, 8.620 to an off-pace 9.242 for Jim.

Rd 1 Josh Parks

Josh Parks took a single when Scott Hoffman did not make the call. Josh’s stats of .062/8.956/149.46 would set the stage for his Round 2 match-up.

Rd 1 Dan v Peters

The next match featured two very quick and fast cars. Dan Manesis in the “DeSantis & Crider” Dodge versus Ted Peters in the “Patriot Missile” Plymouth. Peters cut a fantastic .029 light. After getting caught late at the starting line, Manesis poured on the steam, but ran out of racetrack. Peters missiled across the stripe .028 seconds ahead of Dan. Peters’ numbers: 7.875/170.43 to Manesis’ 7.765/177.09.

Rd 1 Kelly v Sylos

Everyone knows that John Sylos’ Firebird can run very quick. Everyone also knows that Kelly Dill has developed into an exceptional driver with incredible reactions and wheels a car that can run some numbers. So while some would say this was a mismatch on paper, we assert these cars are raced on a track, not paper. And so it seemed when the “Cotton Pony” left the “Fasching-Brown” Firebird on the starting line by .397, many thought it was over. Not so. Sylos powered the blue car around Ms. Dill and recorded a 7.599/180.50 to Kelly’s 8.246/161.90. Big John’s boomin’ ET and speed would ultimately be the evening’s quickest and fastest of all of the NPS cars.

Rd 1 Unger v Lehor

With Jesse Branham’s regular shoe, Peter Sarauer tending to business, Bob Lehor was tapped to drive the Hillbilly Racing Camaro . Bob related that it had been about 20 years since making a pass down Byron’s wide 1320, but he took to like a duck to water in his match with Bob Unger. Lehor ran 10.058 at 137.57 to a troubled run by the “UngerTaker” Vega.


Preparations for Round 2 took place under a rapidly setting sun. Running under Byron’s lights in great conditions promised to be fun.

Rd 2 Sylos

John Sylos continued showing the strength of his Firebird when he ran a 7.65 at 156 MPH.

Rd 2 Tyler v Hoffman

Tyler Shenuk faced Scott Hoffman and the great looking “ShowHoff” Camaro. When both of them decided to rest for a bit with only pre-stage bulbs lit, B.J. Vangsness “persuaded” both drivers to stage. Shenuk again left an opponent sitting on the line, but Hoffman caught him. Hoffman 8.56/156.43 to Shenuk’s 8.85/148.40.

Rd 2 Kubis v Josh

Another first time ever match was Josh Parks against George Kubis. Both drivers left with wheels up, but Young Mr. Parks and the “Yenko” Nova had a significant starting line advantage, then took the stripe first with a 8.94/149.08 to Jungle’s slowing 9.22/131.95.

Rd 2 Kelly v Peters

The next pair have known each other for years, and they too would race each other for the first time under Byron’s lights. The highly experienced Ted Peters would race up and comer Kelly Dill. Once they staged and the tree counted down, Peters was off first. Kelly put up a valiant effort to catch the Hemi powered Plymouth, but to no avail. 7.85/170.17 (!) for Ted, 8.24/161.73 for Kelly.

Rounding out Round 2 was Dan Manesis on single, Mike Roppo 7.86 over Mark Pappas’ redlighting 8.15, and Bob Unger recovered from Round 1, going 10.11 to win over Bob Lehor’s 10.15.

We were sincerely honored to once again accept the invitation by Byron Dragway to participate in Summer Thunder. Thank you B.J. and Rhonda Vangsness, Randy Simpson, and the entire Byron Dragway family for your hospitality and professionalism.  Thanks to our cross-town counterparts for an enjoyable day of spirited competition. And most of all, a big thank you to our fans and supporters for coming out to watch us race and visit with us.

Summer Thunder Photo Gallery


The Midwest Nostalgia Pro Stock Association will be racing again this coming Saturday August 19 at  Great Lakes Dragaway in the August edition of the Nitrous Street Car Brawl. We invite you to come out to Union Grove, WI to see some great racing and to support a fantastic race facility.

Visit the Midwest Nostalgia Pro Stock Association webpage to view our full schedule, news, driver profiles, galleries and more. And please visit and  “Like” our Facebook Page for chat and the latest information.

Story and Photos by Bill Swanson