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HOT ROD Drag Week brings revenue and Midwest communities to Byron

“It isn’t about necessarily the race. We all race. That’s just icing on the cake.”
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 7:17 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - “Oh, it’s real important,” said race fan Harry Erickson. “I took the day off. I wouldn’t miss it.”

Rockford native Erickson isn’t the only one who took the day off for the HOT ROD Drag Week fastest streetcar in America competition. An estimated 5,000 people made the trek to the track in Byron, one of the stops on the race’s five day tour.

“It brings thousands upon thousands of people to our area small town,” said Byron Dragway owner Bryant Vangsness. ”They spend money on the grocery stores, the food and all the towns on the way in, and a lot of them had welcoming signs throughout the route on the way here, and these drivers travel over 1,000 miles in a loop with these really fast race cars and come to the track without being trailered to drive them here.”

The Byron community recently celebrated its saved nuclear power plant, which in turn also saved thousands of jobs. Now, the community and visitors have even more to cheer about.

“It’s very common to see folks sitting outside on their front porch or in chairs with umbrellas up enjoying some beverages, cheering us on, waving us like we’re all little celebrities,” said driver Jason Tabscott.

The winner doesn’t receive a monetary prize, but don’t discount the plaque and official HOT ROD jacket. The drivers are here to celebrate their passion for racing in small communities across the Midwest.

“It isn’t about necessarily the race,” Tabscott said. “We all race. That’s just icing on the cake. Hanging out here with all your friends, some people you don’t even see for the year, and then you see them for the first time, and you pick up right where you left off.”

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