We heard you guys like wheelstands so we uh, wait, how does that meme go? Forget it, the point is, we have a giant gallery of skyscraping and fender-crunching photos from the 23rd Annual World Power Wheel Standing Championships held at Byron Dragway on October 8, 2017. Normally we’d edit down such a big gallery, but if you click through fast enough, it’s like watching wheelstands in stop-motion animation. Plus we just couldn’t pick a favorite. Scroll on through.
Brian Ambrosini from Kenosha, WI, was the overall winner in a 1974 AMC Gremlin. The Grem is powered by a 499ci AMC with a nitrous kit, backed by a Powerglide trans, and scooting along on the back two 33×10.5w M/T tires. Brian has been lifting the fronts for 18 years in competition, and has five wins. “I do it for the excitement, for the fans,” he told us. He says the car wasn’t built with a specific setup for wheelies, it just does them, all he has to do is remove the wheelie bars.
Jeff Wild from Palos Hills, IL, races a 1970 Buick Skylark GS. Between the fenders is a 455ci Buick mill, naturally-aspirated and popping out somewhere around 700hp. It’s backed by a TH400 trans, and a Moser 12-bolt rear with a ladder bar suspension. The rear pumpkin is stuffed with 4.56 gears, and rolls up on 30×11.50 M/T tires. The whole shebang weighs 4000lbs–imagine that coming down on the skinnies. This was Jeff’s seventh year in competition. Like Brian, he says he does it for the excitement. “It’s different than racing, I’m the only Buick, the setup is specific to wheelie, it’s the only thing around the world like it.”
Rick Johnson from Fond Du Lac, WI, brought out a 1960 Chevrolet Belair. The Bel boasts a 440ci small block Chevy with nitrous, and has bragging rights of close to 800hp. Behind the engine is a Turbo 350 trans, and a 9-inch with 4.88 gears. The Chevy has a stock style X frame rear suspension which has been working fine for Rick for almost 15 years in competition. “I love to feel the power, I like to be a stargazer. I’ve been into drag racing since 1964 and my family has been racing for more than 60 years.” Rick says there is special prep for wheelies but he doesn’t want to give away his secrets. “I’m just glad to be able to still do it because its such a specialized event.”
Ricky Kirkpatrick hails from Muncie, IN, and raises ’em high with a 1981 Chevrolet Malibu wagon. That’s a stroker 383ci small block with 550hp, and two nitrous kits adding another 140 and 240hp with a push of a button on the steering wheel. A 9-inch rear and 4.30 gears take the abuse back from a Powerglide 1.80 gear set transmission. Ricky has seven years in competition and says the ‘Bu runs a stock style suspension all around with rear coilovers. He likes the wheelstand competition for the chance at the money and the guarantee of fun. “Bracket [racing] gets boring.” When it’s moving forward not upward, the Malibu runs a 10.50 index class on the motor. It weighs 3000lbs, and bounces along on 28×10.5 M/T tires. “There’s no special setup, it’s the same as bracket setup. I just like doing wheelies. This event, well, you have to see it to believe it.” Ricky’s best wheelie to date is 950ft at Indy, he pulled a best of 500ft at Byron. The wagon has won twice. “I do this because I doesn’t have enough money to go 6s and race all the time.”
What’s up, Luv? Oh, you are. Tim Shamblin from Elizabethtown, NC got up on two wheels alright in his 1972 Chevrolet Luv, and not the ones you expect in a wheelstand. That’s a 377ci small block Chevy in the Luv, with an extra 150hp courtesy of nitrous. A Powerglide trans sends it back to a 12-bolt rear with a 5.38 gear. It’s a ladder bar and leaf spring rear suspension, normally rolling along on the two rear 31×13.50 M/T ET drag slicks. “There’s no specific setup to do wheelies,” Tim told us. This is his fourth year in competition. He hasn’t won overall yet, but he placed best Chevy once. “I do it for the challenge, its exciting. I like wheelies, you gotta be here to understand the event.” Tim’s best wheelie to date is 400ft.
Illustrating “never lift” like no other, Jason Schubert launched his Oldsmobile and well, just watch the video.
Jason hails from Lena, IL, and his 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with its wild paint, naturally-aspirated, alcohol-burning 427ci is the car to beat, when he doesn’t beat it first. The Olds has a Powerglide trans, 12-bolt rear stuffed with 4.10 gears, 33×14 tires, and 14 years in competition. Tim says his best wheelie was 700ft. “I do it for the thrill of it, the car is set up specifically for wheelies and I don’t race it any more. My right foot keeps it going the distance.” Tim was the overall winner in 2005, 2007, and 2015. He runnered up in 2016. “You’re in for a good show if you come here.”
Looking solidly Roadkill is Greg Broshous from Stocklin, IL, in a patch-panelled 1963 Chevy II Nova.
Greg’s Chevy II runs a 434ci small block Chevy helped along by a 150-squirt of nitrous. Greg is banging gears with a Doug Nash manual backed by a Dana 60 rear and 4.56 gears. The car climbs up on 29.5×11.5w Hoosier tires. The Nova weighs about 3300lbs–perhaps due to a bit of rust-lightening. It’s a ladder bar suspension with leaf springs in rear and a van axle and leafs in the front. Greg has nine years of wheelies under his belt. He says the only thing he does different for the competition than for racing is to let the clutch go higher. “I let the balls out,” he said. His best wheelie is 660ft in 4th gear. “I don’t know why, it’s just fun, the car likes to do it and its fun to drive.” Greg also races nostalgia events. Plenty to keep him busy, and all with a car that has been together since mid ’80s. It still has the original paint from its bracket cars days!
Chris Pearce from Mt Pleasant, WI, threw sparks from his 1974 Ford Pinto. he also threw off the front bumper. The naturally aspirated 410ci small-block-powered Ford claimed the Highest Wheelie prize this year. It lifts the fronts with a nudge from 700hp, feeding through a Powerglide trans back to a 12-bolt with a 4.88 gear. It’s a leaf spring car with slapper bars, rolling on 30×9 Hoosier tires, and weighing in at 3000lbs. Chris’ best wheelie to date is about 500ft, but who’s looking at length when you’ve got that height? He’s won highest wheelie two years in a row, and this is only his second year competing. “I bought it to race but it just likes to wheelie and people like it, it’s an addiction. I don’t have enough money to go 7s and race so I do this. As a kid I had dreams about wheelies instead of girls.” Prep for the Pinto is basically just taking the wheelie bars off and hitting the go pedal. “I think a lot of credit for the climb goes to the Hoosier tires. They really help this car. This is just cool to see. It’s a big family event that brings everyone together and we all have a good time.”
Chris Butcher came from Owingsville, KY, with his 1980 Chevrolet Malibu wagon. That’s a 421ci small block Chevy up in the air, with assist from a 250hp nitrous shot. Chris runs a Powerglide trans, Dana 60 with 4:88 gears, a ladder bar rear suspension, and Hoosier 31×14 tires. The Malibu weighs 3000lbs, and 2017 was his first time entering the wheelie competition. His best wheelie to date is 450ft. “I do it because its fun and $10k on the line, I like being in a fast car and the rush. The wheelie event is a fun family affair.”
Jay Biondo says wheelies are addictive. “Once you do a wheelie, you can’t stop.” He comes from McHenry, IL, and drives a 1967 Chevy II Nova with a 400ci small block in the bay. Upward assist comes from an F2 Procharger with air-to-water intercooler. A Reid TH400 transmission leads back to a Moser 9-inch with a surprisingly streetable 3.50 gear–magic of boost right there, and 28×10.5 M/T tires. Like most of the cars in the competition, the Nova runs a ladder bar rear suspension. It weighs 3285lbs and its best wheelie to date is 160ft. This is Jay’s third year in competition. In 2016, he won Best Chevy, and in 2015, Most Photogenic. “The only thing I do for the contest is to put the wheelie bars all the way up. Everything is seat of the pants driving since you cant see anything. You don’t have to have a purpose built car to compete in something like this.”
Something for the Dodge folks! Don Edelstein from Addison, IL, runs a factory Super Stock 1968 Dodge Dart. That’s a big 588ci naturally-aspirated Hemi hanging there, backed by a 727 TorqueFlight trans and Strange 9-inch with 4:30 gears and 32.5×14 M/T tires. Yup, 4-link rear suspension. How did you guess? Don has seven years in competition with the lightweight Dart–it weighs 3250lbs. His best wheelie to date was at Cordova Dragway, 330ft. He runs the Dart in race trim, no change in setup. “I do it because it gets me good exposure and I might win a few bucks. I’ve won best Mopar. If you want to know what it’s like, imagine leaving the line and seeing only sky.”
Lenard “Preacher Boy” Williams from Chicago, IL, got all kinds of street-race cagey when we asked about the combo in his 1978 Chevrolet Malibu. All we managed to glean was that it is a small block Chevy and snorts a bit of nitrous. He did tell us that it runs a TH400 trans, 8.5-inch 10 bolt rear with a 4.10 gear, 28×10.5 M/T tires, stock style suspension front and rear and it weighs 3100lbs. This is the Preach’s second time entering competition, he says the only prep is to put the wheelie bars up and his best wheelie to date is 330ft. “I do it because you only live once, I was hurt in a bad accident a year ago and lost a leg so I want do what I said I would, and might as well have fun. I gotta say don’t knock it till you try it because its a beautiful event.”
Overall Winners 2017 Byron Wheelstanding Championships
Champion – Brian Ambrosini
Runner-Up – Jason Schubert
Third Place – Chris Pearce
Highest – Chris Pearce
Longest – Brian Ambrosini
Most Violent – Jason Schubert
Most Photogenic – Tim Shamblin
Most Unique – Greg Broshous
1st Ricky Kirkpatrick
2nd Chris Butcher
3rd Jeff Wild
1st Chris Pearce
1st Don Edelstein
Scroll on through the gallery for shot-by-shot climbs to the sky.