Like a good monster truck show, the Byron (Illinois) Dragway’s annual World Power Wheel Standing Championships is one event in which carnage often comes with the price of admission.
A one-of-a-kind exhibition event that its most staunch competitors plan for all year — and in some cases, spend all rebuilding their car after the wild ride of the previous edition — the WPWSC is a no-holds-barred contest where only one thing matters: impressing the crowd with the flight altitude and attitude of your machine. During many of its early years, height alone was often enough to get the job done as racers went skyward right at the hit and, on occasion, simply flipped their vehicles over backward to the delight of the crowd. But in recent years, the top competitors have set their aim on distance, trying to mimic purpose-built wheelstanders by covering the entire quarter-mile on their back tires (and bumpers). Because hey, length matters.
At this year’s just-completed WPWSC, competitor Jason Schubert, driving his ’87 Oldsmobile Cutlass, attempt to do precisely that and collect his second WPWSC title (hr won it in 2015 and has been a runner-up twice) ; however, as he went barreling down the racetrack, nose hung in the air as if held in place with puppet strings by the heavens, the Olds began tracking to the left, and as it drew ever-closer to its own shadow on the guardrail, it became increasingly clear this wast’t going to end well.
To the applause and subsequently the shock of the large crowd assembled at Byron, Schubert’s machine, still high in the air, hooked the guardrail near the eighth-mile mark and quickly exited stage left, barrel-rolling several times in the grass as the many cell phone cameras in the crowd fired away. According to Schubert , he was utilizing a radio headset to communicate with his crew to alert him of any imminent danger, but did not hear any radio transmissions as he went down-track, unaware of his situation from high in the air until he struck the wall and became a passenger.
Thankfully, Schubert was able to climb out unharmed, knowing he’d sacrificed life, limb, and machinery to give the crowd the show they wanted, and probably just fine with that. Unfortunately, however, his wheelstand was not deemed best overall, as that honor went to many-time champion Brian Ambrosini in his pumpkin-orange Gremlin. Schubert instead had to settle for Most Violent Wheel Stand and the overall runner-up.