What is Wheelstand Competition?

wheelstand competition

About Wheelstand Competition

  • Invented: 1994
  • Founded By: Ron Leek
  • Highest Governing Body: National Hot Rod Association (NHRA)

Wheelstand competition is a motorsport in which hot rod cars attempt to perform various sorts of wheelstands, driving their cars at high speeds so that the front end rises from the ground, keeping the car on its back wheels only. Wheelstand competition is similar in form and origin to drag racing but is considered a more violent and entertaining sport, where the emphasis is on creating the most brutal and out-of-control wheelstand possible. Due to this, wheelstand competition can be dangerous, and drivers often walk away with injuries, as well as destroyed vehicles.

The origins of wheelstand competition can be traced back to Ron Leek, the former owner of the Byron Dragway in Illinois, which he purchased in 1969. In the 1990’s, Leek became inspired to create a wheelstand competition after seeing a drag racer do an unintentional wheelstand during a race, which caused the observing crowd to react enthusiastically. After offering the racer $100 to repeat the trick, Leek got the idea to hold a wheelstanding competition. This competition was inaugurated the following year as the World Power Wheelstand Championship, is still held annually in Byron, Illinois, and is the largest known wheelstand competition event. At the championship, drivers are scored based on qualities such as the longest, highest, most photogenic, and most violent wheelstand, with the best overall wheelstand receiving a grand prize of $20,000.


What is wheelstand competition?

Wheelstand competition is a motorsport similar to drag racing, where drivers attempt to perform sustained wheelstands with their cars. Wheelstand competition was invented in the 1990’s by Ron Leek, who created the first and largest wheelstand competition, the World Power Wheelstand Championship, in 1994. Various types of vehicles can be used in wheelstand competition, but among the most popular cars used in the sport are old-style muscle cars such as Chevelles, Novas, Barracudas, and Mustangs. 

What is the biggest wheelstand competition event in the world?

The world’s largest known wheelstand competition event is the annual World Power Wheelstand Championship, held annually at the Byron Dragway in Illinois, USA. The first World Power Wheelstand Championship was held in 1994 after Byron Dragway owner Ron Leek became inspired to host a wheelstand competition due to the enthusiasm they generated in crowds. At each annual event, awards are given to the drivers who perform the longest, highest, most photogenic, and most violent wheelstand, with a grand prize of $20,000 for the driver with the best overall wheelstand. Well-known feats performed at the championship include a famous quarter-mile-long wheelstand performed in a 1968 Barracuda by driver AJ Fiorelli on October 5, 2014. 

How dangerous are wheelstand competitions?

Though wheelstand competitions are fun to view and participate in, they can be dangerous for both performers and spectators. Due to the high speeds wheelstanding cars can reach, and the inherent lack of control involved in performing a wheelstand, crashes and other accidents are common occurrences. In fact, they are so common that one of the awards given at the World Power Wheelstand Championship is for the most violent wheelstand, and many spectators expect cars to sustain damage during the events. One famous incident, which occurred during a drag race in 2011, saw driver Tim Kincaid lose control of his car during a wheelstand, crashing into a guardrail and tearing off the car’s entire wheel, brake, and strut assembly.  Though neither Kincaid nor any spectators were harmed in the violent crash, this instance shows how easily accidents can occur in wheelstand competitions or drag races and highlights the need for safety and vigilance when participating in these events.