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Update: Studes @ 2017 Meltdown Drags w/ Promoter Wrap-Up

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  • Update: Studes @ 2017 Meltdown Drags w/ Promoter Wrap-Up

    (Be sure to also see the event promoters' Wrap-Up in Post #19 to this thread)

    The July 14-16 2017 Meltdown Drags at Byron Dragway in Byron IL are history. If you have a Bucket List and this event is not at the top, you best rethink your priorities. It keeps getting bigger and better every year! There's a rolling 50-year cutoff as to appearance, so any cars looking newer than 1966, even sporting post-1966 wheels or something, were prohibited from competing.

    This event is so popular that the 500 participants allowed to register sold out within 48 hours of when 2017 registration for the event went live on line at 12:01 AM January 2, 2017.

    I buttonholed Co-Promoter Paul Zielsdorf (a super guy, BTW; as is seemingly everyone associated with this event) a few minutes Saturday morning, July 15. He reported the spectator gate had at least 4,000 people go through it Friday alone, but it could have been as high as 6,000; they just didn't know yet. Saturday saw even heavier traffic. Reportedly, the line of cars along IL 72 waiting to get in from I-39 east of Byron peaked at 2 1/2 miles long at one time. I can believe it.

    If you consider the money required to drag race "modern," the difference between The Meltdown Drags and today's high-dollar spectator sport called drag racing is as dramatic as the difference between 1957 NASCAR and 2017 NASCAR. It's no wonder The Meltdown Drags is as popular as its become; it deserves to be.

    Well, enough prose. I know all you wanna do is see some pictures of the Studebakers there and a little about each one, so here goes in no particular order:

    SDCer David Swaim returned with his R2/4-speed Avanti. Dave was hoping to get into the 15s and had just had his shifter rebuilt for faster shifts. Unfortunately, it was hanging up and as far as I know, he was in the 16s as a result :




    Long-time Rockford SDCer Gordy Beutsch (pronounced "beach") returned with his cute "1953" straight-axle gasser, 259 Studebaker powered :





    Gordy's car wasn't out of the 16s on Friday and I didn't see his last run Saturday. Gordy won the door prize last year, a brand new new set of slicks, and was excited about trying them out, but he said they weren't as good as the old ones he had last year.



    Gordy's car is an example of fun on a budget, which you can have at The Meltdown Drags. Look carefully on the rear fender and you can see the outline of a Sky Hawk "checkmark." This car started out as a terribly rusty 1956 Sky Hawk that David Swaim gave Gordy free for the taking since Dave was going to junk it, it was so bad. Gordy showed me the "before" pictures: No dairy in Switzerland makes cheese with that many holes in it! The car runs really well and does Studebaker proud. With 4.88 gears, Gordy has the little 259 really spinning at the traps.


    The Suicide King was back, but I didn't see him make any runs:




    The Rude Stewed made a good appearance with a 355 Chevy:




    The Lark Ness Monster was back with big block Chevy power and ran a 10.58 @ 125.95 Saturday morning...woo-hoo!




    Steve Rice was there with his Vernon California(!) built 1947 Champion Business Coupe :



    Steve's Champion has a Cadillac 500 engine with Turbo 400 transmisison. He has run 11.93 @ 113.59 MPH. Not sure of his best time this year. Take a good look at that hood scoop: It's the top half of a Farmall Tractor gas tank!




    I caught up with SDCers Jim Maxey and his bright bronze 1963 R2 Daytona and Rich Dudkowski and his Screaming Yellow Zonker '61 as they were leaving a gas station by the motel in Rochelle IL on their way to the track. Both men are from South Bend. Jim wasn't competing but Rich was. Hopefully, Rich will post some times as I had trouble being everywhere at once:




    Jim Pepper was helping a friend with a 409-powered 1955 Bel Air gasser, so Jim elected to not compete this year. Jim helped build the 409 and they were anxious to see how it was doing...very well, it would appear; they got in the 12s! However, Jim drove his genuine R2/4-speed 1963 Super Lark to The Meltdown and parked in the Show Car area:



    Although it has been repainted a darker red, Jim's Super Lark was originally Super Red. Here's what Jim had to say about the 409 '55 with which he helped:

    Hi Bob. Sorry I missed you yesterday. It sure was a great event. The 409 powered 55 Bel Air I helped build the engine for made an easy pass because the engine only had a few hours of run time on it. He ran 12.95 @ 108. This was short shifting at about 5500 and missing 3rd gear. The car should run mid 11’s.

    I think the neatest car there was this 1930 Model A with a 289 Stude in it. Jim:


    (Jim "got me" on this one; I hadn't seen it! Cool beans, Jim; thanks for the submission. BP)

    Next to Jim's '63 was a chopped C-Body Stude. I don't think it was For Sale and have no additional information about it:




    There were a couple Studes for sale in the car corral. They included this nice 1962 Daytona hardtop:








    Also a 327 Chevy powered 1962 Lark 2-door:





    (Hmmm...a "small journay" 327? Does that mean it didn't get far from home before it was pulled from a Chevy and installed in this former Lark Six? )


    Finally, a couple non-Studebaker items of note:

    Here is long-time Rockford IL SDCer Ron Johnson in his street-legal, flathead-powered "sprint car:"



    His "sprint car" is licensed and street-driven. In fact, he's driven it more than 3,000 miles since he built it! Just as cute as a button. He let Yours Truly sit in it for a photo. (One more doughnut that morning and they'd still be trying to extract me! Sheesh...)



    Ron ran it through but I forgot to record the time/speed. It does well.

    Ron has owned and cared for one of the few remaining original 1956 Golden Hawks with factory overdrive since 1971, IIRC. It's the pretty Ceramic Green / Snowcap White. Ron is so meticulous that upon completing the Golden Hawk's second restoration a couple years ago, I am sure it is a better car now than when it was new. Still a column shift, too; nobody ever put a floor shift in it. Ron isn't about to, either.

    A treat for MoPar fans was found in the Super Stock Class. This Super Stock class line-up in the staging lanes sported ten cars. Only one of them, the dark blue 1963 427 Galaxie, was not a 1963-1966 MoPar! Max Wedge, early hemi, etc; MoPars are far and away the most popular cars in that class and, boy, do they run. Some are straight axle conversions (the rules are pretty lose here!) and do some impressive wheel stands:



    I apologize for this report being light on specifics as to who ran what times and speeds. There is so much to see and do at this event that it's not possible to be everywhere all the time and still see everything, get caught up with friends, and the like: "You have to see it to believe it!" In fact, no report can do this event justice, it is that good.

    Look for The Ninth Annual Meltdown Drags in mid-July 2018 and "be there or be square!" BP
    Last edited by BobPalma; 07-20-2017, 08:10 PM. Reason: add remarks from Jim Pepper & event wrap-up
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

    Ayn Rand:
    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

  • #2
    Thanks Bob ! Great coverage of an awesome event! Thank you for showing all stude entries even if they were not stude powered.

    Comment


    • #3
      Besides the checkmark on the rear quarter, Gordy's car appears to have 1956, not 1953-1955, K body doors (at least the driver's door).

      What you label as "the rude stude" says; "rude stewed" on its side.
      Gary L.
      Wappinger, NY

      SDC member since 1968
      Studebaker enthusiast much longer

      Comment


      • #4
        oh ya baby...hot rodded Studes, just doesn't get any better! thanks for posting. cheers, junior
        sigpic
        1954 C5 Hamilton car.

        Comment


        • #5
          Just got home late last night - did a banzai trip - Flew in from Nor Cal Thursday night, went to the meet all three days and flew back home yesterday. Well worth the flight! Possibly the best drag meet I've ever been to.

          The only slight possible correction is I do not believe it is a rolling 50 year cutoff. I don't think any of the Meltdown Drags guys have any interest in getting things into the 70's. Unless something has changed really, really recently, I believe it will be 1966 as long as the meet exists. There are plenty of meets that highlight '67-72 muscle car era cars, so I don't think they will go there.
          Dean Seavers
          Sacramento, CA

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by voxnut View Post
            Just got home late last night - did a banzai trip - Flew in from Nor Cal Thursday night, went to the meet all three days and flew back home yesterday. Well worth the flight! Possibly the best drag meet I've ever been to.

            The only slight possible correction is I do not believe it is a rolling 50 year cutoff. I don't think any of the Meltdown Drags guys have any interest in getting things into the 70's. Unless something has changed really, really recently, I believe it will be 1966 as long as the meet exists. There are plenty of meets that highlight '67-72 muscle car era cars, so I don't think they will go there.
            Wow, Dean; you flew in from CA! What an adventure. Did you rent a car and drive to Byron from a Chicago airport or ??? What was your favorite part of the event?

            I'll have to check with the promoters, but it seems like the cutoff has been earlier in prior years. 'Could be wrong on that, though, so I'll post anything I find out.

            Again, 'good that you were able to attend and confirm the fun it is. BP
            We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

            Ayn Rand:
            "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

            G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

            Comment


            • #7
              ModelA289.jpg

              Thanks for the entertainment Bob and this is the one that struck me as it's great to see a Stude engine in something that came out of Detroit regardless of year of manufacture.

              I'm sort of a purist but also a "driver" who like originality with modern creature comforts.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by BobPalma View Post
                Wow, Dean; you flew in from CA! What an adventure. Did you rent a car and drive to Byron from a Chicago airport or ??? What was your favorite part of the event?

                I'll have to check with the promoters, but it seems like the cutoff has been earlier in prior years. 'Could be wrong on that, though, so I'll post anything I find out.

                Again, 'good that you were able to attend and confirm the fun it is. BP
                Hi Bob! Yup. Touched down at Chicago Midway about 10 pm Thursday night, rolled into the Rockford Red Roof Inn about 1am and was at Byron Dragway at 11am on Friday. For a Central Valley California guy who lives by the "but it's a dry heat" mantra, I was kinda sweating the potential humid summer weather, but felt like I totally lucked out this last weekend. Anyhoo, stayed at Byron until about 5pm Sunday evening, got up Monday and headed into Chicago long enough to stop by Superdawg and a quick run through the transportation wing of the Museum of Science and Industry before flying out in the late afternoon. Rolled back into the Sacramento Seavers Inn about 1am.

                Truth be told, one of the main reasons I bought my '61 Studebaker wagon was so it could tow this when I finish it.

                1077583_10200990758585139_827089557_o.jpg
                Dean Seavers
                Sacramento, CA

                Comment


                • #9
                  NIce! we gonna see that at Bakersfield any time soon?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The cutoff for the Meltdown has always been 1966 except maybe the first one might have been earlier. It was a great time. The 09 runs really good. It was great to meet Ed Iskenderian. I thanked him for a cam he sold me for my Lark in 1969. He said when first made and sold cams for a Studebaker V8 he had a customer complain about intermittent good and bad performance. Turns out the customer drove the vibration damper back on the crank with a hammer and wood block. He moved the crank gear in the process and the crank had a lot of end play. The end play was advancing and retarding the cam because of the helical timing gears. Ed is 96 years old and still is interested in everything automotive. The picture is Ed listening to Pete Farnsworth explaining features of the X1 rocket car. This was the fastest quarter mile car in 1965/66 (270 MPH). It was the forerunner of the Blue Flame which set the land speed record in 1970 (622 MPH). Pete designed and built that car as well. Bob is right, any review of the Meltdown does not do it justice.

                    Jim
                    Attached Files
                    james r pepper

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jpepper View Post
                      The cutoff for the Meltdown has always been 1966 except maybe the first one might have been earlier. It was a great time. The 09 runs really good. It was great to meet Ed Iskenderian. I thanked him for a cam he sold me for my Lark in 1969. He said when first made and sold cams for a Studebaker V8 he had a customer complain about intermittent good and bad performance. Turns out the customer drove the vibration damper back on the crank with a hammer and wood block. He moved the crank gear in the process and the crank had a lot of end play. The end play was advancing and retarding the cam because of the helical timing gears. Ed is 96 years old and still is interested in everything automotive. The picture is Ed listening to Pete Farnsworth explaining features of the X1 rocket car. This was the fastest quarter mile car in 1965/66 (270 MPH). It was the forerunner of the Blue Flame which set the land speed record in 1970 (622 MPH). Pete designed and built that car as well. Bob is right, any review of the Meltdown does not do it justice.

                      Jim
                      You met and chatted with ED I.? ...holy smokes, doesn't get much cooler than that! cheers, junior
                      sigpic
                      1954 C5 Hamilton car.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by lumpy View Post
                        NIce! we gonna see that at Bakersfield any time soon?
                        I dunno about soon, but hopefully I'll run in some of the ANRA meets when I finally finish it. But it will probably be more at home at Eagle Field. Thanks for askin'!
                        Dean Seavers
                        Sacramento, CA

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Bob, regarding Gordy Beutsch's awesome gasser, what tranny does it have? oh, and about his grill surrounds, they look far too nice to be on his car...perhaps he wants to trade me for the ones with a little more patina on my car? lol cheers, junior
                          sigpic
                          1954 C5 Hamilton car.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by junior View Post
                            Bob, regarding Gordy Beutsch's awesome gasser, what tranny does it have? oh, and about his grill surrounds, they look far too nice to be on his car...perhaps he wants to trade me for the ones with a little more patina on my car? lol cheers, junior
                            Gordy had a T-10 close ratio four speed year before last and as far as I know still has it.

                            Ted

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by voxnut View Post
                              I dunno about soon, but hopefully I'll run in some of the ANRA meets when I finally finish it. But it will probably be more at home at Eagle Field. Thanks for askin'!
                              Awesome ! eagle field is on my list of place's to run. Hoping to run My buds 41 willys there some time this year.

                              Comment

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