Byron Dragway part of a week-long test of endurance for national racers

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BYRON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– This is one of the craziest weeks of the year in drag racing in this country and the Byron Dragway is playing a big part in it. This is Hot Rod Drag Week and Thursday Byron became the fourth stop for racers on a four-track, five-race, five-day tour.

Drag racing is usually all about speed and power. Usually. Hot Rod Drag Week is more like a marathon.

“Me and my co-driver Pete we ask ourselves daily why are we doing this to ourselves?, said Justin Griswold one of the racers from Tampa, Florida.

Drag week started Monday with races in Martin, Michigan. Tuesday the races were in Norwalk, Ohio. Wednesday they were racing in Indianapolis. Thursday they were here in Byron, and then Friday they’ll finish up back where they started in Martin, Michigan.  Between each race they actually drive their race cars to the next location. That’s why this is billed as the “Fastest Street Car in America” competition.

“I think the hardest part is the drive between track-to-track-to-track,” said Griswold. “They’re not just putting us out in the interstate to go from state-to-state. They’ve got us going on back roads. We’ll hit construction. You’ve got an 800 horsepower motor that’s thumping and thumping and thumping.”

They’ll cover 1100 miles in the five days.

“It’s a lifestyle,” said racer Kevin Neu of Racine, Wisconsin. “You have to, you have to really love this stuff to put yourself in this kind of pressure.”

Racer Neil Torbett of Tulsa, Oklahoma agrees with that. “That’s definitely the hard part is getting from track-to-track in time. It is all-out, every waking hour.”

Torbett is racing a 1965 Ford Truck.

“We rebuilt the transmission in this one day one. Got it rebuilt and ran it before the lanes closed at two o’clock.”

ne of the biggest keys to finishing Hot Rod Drag week is to be prepared for anything and everything.

“Bring a lot of spare parts,” said Neu.

This event brings out a range of emotions. There’s the racer’s high of hitting a personal best speed, and the low of having a part break, and there’s the sheer grind of the week.  Oh well at least the winners rake in some big prize money.

“We don’t win anything,” said Griswold.

(Scott) Wait did he just say they don’t win anything?

“We don’t win a dollar doing this and it costs thousands of thousands of thousands of dollars just to get here, so there’s really something wrong with us.”

There’s nothing wrong with them.  They’re simply passionate about cars and racing, and they want the satisfaction of knowing they survived Hot Rod Drag Week.

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