The Memorial Weekend Classic returns to Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove this year on Saturday, May 23, Sunday, May 24 and Monday, May 25.
The event – billed as the "greatest show on earth with more than 1,000,000 horsepower" – will include the standard races with nitro dragsters, Chicago wise guys, wheel standers, nostalgia super stocks, alcohol and nitro funny cars, Midwest gassers and more.
This year will also offer a free kids’ carnival called "Leroy Butler Day at the Races" on Sunday. The event takes place from 1 to 5 p.m.
Former Green Bay Packer Leroy Butler will be on site talking to visitors about his anti-bullying program and the importance of stopping all forms of bullying. Kids and their parents or caregivers can meet Butler and take photos.
Butler, who is the unofficial spokesperson for the Dragaway, started a grass roots "Butler vs. Bullying" campaign that brings professionals, teachers, parents / families and students together to discuss in an open microphone format the social problems that come from bullying.
Over the past year, Butler has traveled to schools and churches throughout Wisconsin to sit down with people who are recipients of bullying as well as those who have exhibited bullying behavior.
He sees the "Leroy Butler Day at the Races" / kids' carnival as an end-of-year celebration of the year’s campaign against bullying.
Roy Henning is the owner of Mofoco and the director of marketing and promotions for the Great Lakes Dragaway. Henning, who now has a 10-month-old son of his own with his wife (OnMilwaukee.com's Caroline Henning), says they have wanted to make the Dragaway more of a kid-draw for some time: Not only to attract kids to a day at the races, but also to serve as a platform for education.
"We have been trying to make it more family- and kid-oriented and it really came together this year," says Henning. "We need to – as an organization – talk to kids as future drivers and racers so we can attract a younger generation."
All kids 13 and under are free when accompanied by a parent or guardian. The carnival event, according to Henning, is ideal for kids at least 5 years old, but all ages are invited to attend.
"It’s not Six Flags-type rides, but it’s going to be a lot of fun for kids," says Henning. "There will be fun rides, a train, a bouncy house, games and prizes."
It’s also a chance to talk to kids about safety when racing.
"Kids need to know that if you want to drive your car really fast you have to go to a place that’s designed for you to do so," says Henning.
After the carnival, families are invited to stay and watch the races or they can call it a day. Tickets cost $30 in advance or $35 at the gate for people 16 years and older.
Racer Pit Parking (park in the race pits as a spectator, grass only) is $20. Parking in the spectator parking lot is included with the general admission price. Due to time and space constraints, fun racing season passes are not accepted this weekend.
The event runs from 10 a.m. until dusk each day all weekend and on Saturday and Sunday there’s a feature show around 5 p.m. Monday includes fun racing all day and the cost is $35 to race cars, $30 for bikes and $15 to watch the show. The runs are unlimited once the fee is paid.
"This is going to be the start of bringing even more kids and families to this annual event," says Henning. "And it’s going to be a lot of fun."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.