Clark Rosenstengel accepts his trophy and $5,000 cash prize for winning the Unlimited class at the inaugural 2019 Midwest Drags Friday at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, OH. (Image/Will Schertz – OnAllCylinders)

NORWALK, OH — Before event organizers handed out trophies and nearly $20,000 in cash payouts (literally stacks of $100 bills) to each class winner at the culmination of the inaugural Summit Racing Equipment Midwest Drags Drag-N-Drive Event, they raffled off gift cards and parts giveaways.

A winner of a $100 Summit Racing gift card gave his to another Midwest Drags competitor in order to help him pay for a new set of tires he needed after the wear and tear of the four-day drag-and-drive event spanning three dragstrips between Indiana and Ohio. The event wrapped up at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, OH.

Perhaps no moment captured the camaraderie and goodwill of the 2019 Midwest Drags participants quite like that one.

Even though Michigan native Clark Rosenstengel is a two-time Drag Week event winner (2016 and 2018) and drives what might be the world’s most insanely versatile and capable Gen. 5 Camaro, Rosenstengel has never won any money for his efforts.

Which made it especially nice to see him being handed his stack of 50 $100 bills at the Midwest Drags awards ceremony.

Rosenstengel drove his twin turbo 2010 Camaro (2,000+ hp and 4,135 lbs. including the driver) to a low E.T. of 7.266 at 155.48 mph on his way to winning the Unlimited class in the 2019 Midwest Drags, which carried the biggest money purse at $5,000.

Rosenstengel, a drag-and-drive veteran and multi-time champion, predicted the Midwest Drags would grow to the same size as Drag Week.

“It will get there,” he said. “There are no cash payouts in Drag Week. It’s tough being a first-time event, getting all the bugs worked out, but I really like this event.”

To a man, every driver we talked to raved about what a good time they had.

“The event was great,” said Brian Wagner of Westfield, IN—winner of the Manual Shift Clutch class in his 1932 Ford 5-Window coupe modeled after John Milner’s classic yellow hot rod from the film American Graffiti.

“I didn’t know the car would make it this far,” Wagner said. “It was a great time. The tracks were phenomenal. Yeah, I’d do it again—definitely.”

Brian Wagner fell in love with Milner’s ’32 Ford after seeing American Graffiti as a teenager. He has spent the past 20 years upgrading this gorgeous hot rod which took home the trophy and $1,000 cash prize for the Manual Shift class at the 2019 Midwest Drags. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Hot Rod’s Drag Week had 62 participants its first year. Nearly 100 cars competed in this first year of the Midwest Drags, and everyone expects it to grow exponentially. Event organizers will cap the field at whatever they want, but event sponsors speculated that it could be as many as 300 or 400 entries in 2020.

And they should be motivated to sign up, because one lucky participant with an average E.T. under 10.5 seconds is going to win an awesome new car.

HotRods by Havliks is Building a 1967 Drag-N-Drive Chevy Nova to Give Away in 2020

The car’s body was on display at the HotRods by Havliks booth behind the grandstand at Summit Motorsports Park where the awards ceremony was held.

Cousins Jesse and Brian Havlik, co-owners of the Cedar Rapids, IA-based hot rod shop, and builders of a sweet ’55 Chevy Bel-Air they had to shut down prior to Day 3 racing for the Midwest Drags, said they’ll be trying to get the new giveaway Nova ready to show off at some major auto shows between now and next year’s Midwest Drags.

The new Nova will be powered by a big block Chevy engine. The car will feature a custom cooling system built by Delta Performance Auto Group, a Gear Vendors auxiliary transmission, a Moser rear end, a Chassisworks front clip, and RC Components wheels. The body was provided by Real Deal Steel, a supplier of Golden Gear Automotive.

Watching a Midwest Drags participant win that car will undoubtedly be a major highlight of next year’s event.

Rosenstengel’s lightning-fast Camaro is cooled by the same technology from Delta Performance that will be featured in the ’67 Nova the Havliks are building.

“It cannot be cookie-cutter at this level,” said John Pairaktaridis, president of Astoria, NY-based Delta Performance Automotive Group. “Every hot rod build is custom—nothing is stock—so we don’t believe in using stock radiators to cool non-stock applications.”

Pairaktaridis said his company offers zero off-the-shelf parts, which is exactly how it should be for the rigors of, and endurance demands of, drag-and-drive competition.

“The technology in these cars is on the cutting edge,” he said. “The client calls and says ‘This is what I have. Make it cool.’”

And then Delta PAG makes it cool, in all the ways.

Because drag-and-drive events and the new kid on the block Midwest Drags are very cool.

We already can’t wait for next year.

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Author: Matt Griswold

After a 10-year newspaper journalism career, Matt Griswold spent another decade writing about the automotive aftermarket and motorsports. He was part of the original OnAllCylinders editorial team when it launched in 2012.