NORWALK, OH – If there is one thing that drag racing enthusiasts enjoy more than drag racing, it’s drag racing and then winning things. Dozens of them had an opportunity to do just that during the 2021 Summit Racing Midwest Drags, a week-long drag-n-drive event that spanned three tracks across the Midwest U.S.
Participating racers finished out the week June 4 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk—taking home thousands of dollars in cash prizes along the way—but money and bragging rights were far from the only thing awarded following the event. One lucky participant, Jay Grabiak of Greensburg, Pa., won a drawing for an immeasurably sleek-looking custom 1976 Chevy Nova built by Hotrods by Havliks.
Cousins Jesse and Brian Havlik, co-owners of the Cedar Rapids, IA-based hot rod shop, built the 700-horsepower Nova from the ground up with features that include a big block Chevy engine, custom cooling system built by Delta Performance Auto Group, a Gear Vendors auxiliary transmission, a Moser rear end, a Chassisworks front clip, Wilwood Brakes and RC Components wheels. The body of the vehicle was provided by Real-Deal Steel.
“Is this even real?” Grabiak asked the crowd that gathered for the Midwest Drags award ceremony, receiving applause in response.
After his name appeared on the winning ticket, Grabiak did have to walk back on one of his earlier promises.
“I did tell everybody as kind of a joke, if I did win this car I’m selling everything and telling my wife I want a divorce, because my luck’s about to change,” he joked. “Some find it funny—she kind of giggled a little bit.”
In addition to the car, Grabiak also won the Gasser A class in his 1955 Chevrolet 150 with a low E.T. of 9.909 at 133.45 mph. But for him, the chance to win either was never the point of Midwest Drags.
“I’m always happy to be part of these events,” he said. “…Everybody there treats everybody like family. It’s not about how fast you go. It’s always about the adventure.”
More than 100 racers participated in 18 classes this year, marking an uptick from the 2019 event, both in terms of attendance and the number of prizes awarded. Each registered vehicle that competed had to be driven on public roads along a designated route between each event, with racers turning in two time slips per track to determine the winners.
Jason Sack claimed the top prize and the $5,000 purse that came with it, earning first place in the Unlimited class in his 1969 Chevy Nova. His lowest E.T. was a blistering 7.555 at 183.73 mph.
“It’s hardly believable,” Sack told OnAllCylinders following his win. “We didn’t even think we’d have a chance, because you have big dogs like Tom Bailey and Clark (Rosenstengel), and you’re running a small block with a single turbo you don’t think you’re even going to come close.”
It’s an impressive accomplishment, considering Sack’s primary goal entering the race.
“I only wanted to finish,” he said. “I haven’t used the car for a couple years, so I just wanted to make it happen.”
Sack’s Nova is a Skinny Kid Race Car build featuring a Dart 427 short block assembly, single Garrett 94mm turbocharger, a Rossler Turbo 400 transmission, and a Strange Engineering 9.5-inch 4.30 ring and pinion gear set. He estimate that the vehicle’s engine is capable of producing 1,900 horsepower.
Many familiar faces also were in attendance, including social media sensation Cleetus McFarland, who won the Modified PA class with a E.T. of 7.817 at 181.11 mph.
Rosenstengel, who won the Unlimited class in 2019 with his twin turbo 2010 Camaro, participated again in the 2021 event. This year, he took home the top spot in the Super Street Small Block PA class, piloting a 1988 Mustang to a low E.T. of 7.903 at 185.28 mph.
Here is the complete list of class winners and their best E.T.:
- Gasser A – Jay Grabiak – 9.909 @ 133.45 mph
- Gasser B – Dan Chrisholm – 9.547 @ 139.10 mph
- Hot Rod – Mark Fisher – 9.163 @ 148.00 mph
- Ironman – Steve Chechak – 8.644 @ 160.26 mph
- Manual Shift H – Tyler Garlock – 9.165 @ 161.31 mph
- Manual Shift Unlimited – Bill Armstrong – 8.912 @ 164.00 mph
- Modified NA – Terry Miller – 8.646 @ 157.59 mph
- Modified PA – Cleetus McFarland – 7.817 @ 181.11 mph
- Pro Street PA – Glenn Hunter – 7.651 @ 176.40 mph
- Street Machine – William Spangler – 10.023 @ 141.86 mph
- Street Race Big Block NA – Guy Protano – 9.020 @ 150.70 mph
- Street Race Small Block NA – Jason Tabscott – 8.929 @ 151.91 mph
- Street Race Small Block PA – Randall Reed – 8.518 @ 161.75 mph
- Super Street Big Block NA – Tyree Smith – 9.189 @ 147.93 mph
- Super Street Small Block NA – Curtis Johnson – 8.940 @ 151.95 mph
- Super Street Small Block PA – Clark Rosenstengel – 7.903 @ 185.28 mph
- Unlimited – Jason Sack – 7.555 @ 183.73 mph