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World Power Wheelstand Championships - Pans On The Ground

Byron Dragway mayhem

By Mike Yoksich, Photography by Mike Yoksich

In the world of drag racing, few promoters are as audacious as Byron Dragway's Ron Leek. Because of him, wheelstand mavens invade the beautiful Rock River, Illinois, area to get a front-row seat at the ultimate drag racing freak show. In the 16 years since the first World Power Wheelstand Championships, it has gone from a cult classic to a major event that brings in fans from the other side of the planet. Ron Leek was booming away on Byron's PA system interviewing John Ross and his family, who traveled all the way from Australia. John was heard to say, "I read about the wheelstand contest in Car Craft magazine and knew I had to go see it for myself." He's right and Byron Dragway packs the stands every year. Studying the photos is good for a thrill, but you'll have to be at the show to really appreciate it. It's our favorite thing to do in Ogle County.

Wheelie King $20,000 Prize!
Brian Ambrosini

One of the most famous wheelstanders in the world is Kenosha, Wisconsin's Brian Ambrosini in his orange '74 Gremlin. Brian's YouTube clips have more that 9 million views, he's been seen in Car Craft for the last six years and on the Lucas Oil...On the Edge show. Seeing him live is truly worth the trip.

Brian's a master of suspense, always getting his car to the line at the last possible moment. A pack of orange shirts parted the crowd in the staging area as the Gremlin smoked its tires toward the starting line. A couple of purges from the nitrous system, and Brian edged up to the line. With his two-step set kinda low, he launched the Gremlin and ramped up the power in the fast but smooth way that gets the car all the way up for his trademark vertical bumper slide. It was looking really good right up until it started looking bad. Brian's car pivoted and made a hard left toward the wall, scattering the judges and media. The Gremlin came down hard on its nose, flipping over and ricocheting off the wall before skidding on its roof in a cloud of sparks and chips of orange paint.

The crowd was going wild while the rescue crew and media descended on the wrecked Gremlin. Brian was hanging in the belts upside down trying figure out what just went down.

For that crazy run, Brian won the King of Wheelies 2010 and the $20,000 prize that goes with it. Fortunately for Brian, he owns Precision Auto body in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and will be able to go home and pound that Gremlin back into shape and continue building upon his legend.

By Mike Yoksich
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