By Doug Schroder


The weather wasn’t nearly as hot as last year, but the track at Byron Dragway was definitely scorching a little hotter this year as more than 600 vintage drag cars from over 40 states converged upon the dragway for the 7th Meltdown Drags.

The allure of this event is very catching, as it has expanded exponentially since it began. It was reported that every major car magazine in the country was there to take pictures.

It’s nice to see that Byron has such a big event happening. The event has grown so big, in fact, that the crew from the hometown Tempo newspaper was given VIP wristbands and then told we couldn’t park in the media area. Instead we were directed to the regular parking area. Not to be deterred, I asked new photographer Mike McMillan if we could check out his friend’s house. Mike was brought along so I could kind of show him the ropes as to what I do at events like this. Mike’s friend, Kevin Susler, lives right next door to the dragway. One perk of living next to the dragway is season passes are given out to neighbors of the dragway. It was much more convenient parking at Kevin’s than being thrown into general parking. Thank you Kevin Susler, Stephanie Bontjes and Sarah Walter for the hospitality!

Besides the usual muscle cars that showed up, there were a few cars never seen before at Meltdown drags.

Kevin Combest made the 10 hour trip by car from Jamestown, KY, to drive his modified 1965 VW Beetle he named Sour Kraut. For just a four banger that Bug had some get up and go!

Drag racing Hall-of-Famer Barb Hamilton was there with her car. She took it out of the “Big Daddy” Don Garlits Drag Racing and Automotive Museum in Ocala, FLA, to display it at some event this summer. Barb had her car on loan to the museum.

Barb got into drag racing with her partner Nancy Leonello way before Shirley Muldowney came along in the 1970’s.

It was another successful event this year with hopes it continues for many years to come.

2016 Meltdown Drags 1

Paul Combest takes off with a wheelie in his 1965 VW Beetle he named Sour Kraut during the Meltdown Drags at Byron Dragway on Friday, July 15. (DOUG SCHRODER PHOTO Tempo)

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