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Drag Strip List

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia

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ARKANSAS

Carlisle Drag Strip (1958)
Excell-a-Rating Drag Strip/Little Rock Drag Strip (1959)
George Ray's Dragstrip (Paragould) (1961)
Benton "Drag Strip" (1962)
Shumaker Naval Ammunition Depot (Camden) (1962)
Newport Drag Strip (1963)
Razorback Dragway (Fort Smith) (1963)
Thunderbird Dragway (Walnut Ridge) (1963)
Hope Drag Strip (1966)
Little Rock Drag Strip (1968)
Stuttgart Dragway (1968)
Prescott Dragway (1973)
Springdale "Drag Strip" (1975)
Prescott Raceway Park (1977)
Blytheville Air Force Base (1984)
State Fairgrounds Dragway (Little Rock) (2002)
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Exploding transmission in a '67 Chevelle at George Ray's Dragstrip in Paragould, Arkansas. Photographer unknown

Benton "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation:  1960s
 
Old timers recall a quarter-mile  drag strip in the vicinity of Benton on the west side of I-30. Research in old newspapers has been unsuccessful in finding any information about it. More research is needed.
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CLICK HERE to see location on a map

Blytheville Air Force Base

  • Years of Operation:  1984
 
Although a drag race was originally scheduled for May 27, it was instead scheduled for June 10. It was sponsored by the AFB auto hobby shop. Races were timed for 1/8th-mile on a taxiway.
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CLICK HERE to see location on a map

Carlisle Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: ca. 1958-75
 
The drag strip in Carlisle began operation prior to 1959. The Arkansas Timing Association conducted races on the second Sunday of the month in 1959. According to the recollections of Lance Miller , who went to watch the drag races at Carlisle in the 1960s and 1970s, the drag strip was located at an airport outside Carlisle that was used by crop dusters during the week and racing on the weekend. That airport is undoubtedly today's Carlisle Municipal Airport, located just northeast of Carlisle. In early January 1959, a young high school senior in Camden, Arkansas, said that his town should have a drag strip. He said that Carlisle wasn't half as big as Camden and they had a drag strip. He said that the city and state police supervised the Carlisle strip. On May 8, 1960, Red Dyer, driving Ray Godman's "Tennessee Boll Weevil" A/MR, set a national record of 160.5 MPH. This beat the old national mark by eight miles an hour. A month later, on June 12, 1960, Godman had Johnny Albright at the wheel of his modified roadster. Albright upped the national record to 171.1 MPH at Carlisle. Carlisle was a sanctioned NHRA track in 1961, running races on the second Sunday of the month. On April 14, 1963, Paul Brower, driving for O. D. Brazil, set a new speed mark in a blown Chrysler-powered A roadster of a 159.28 MPH. By at least 1967, the strip was sanctioned by NHRA and was open from February through October. On October 26, 1975, the Arkansas State Championship drag races were held at Carlisle. Research was unable to find any information about this strip after 1975.
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Excell-a-Rating Drag Strip/Little Rock Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: ca. 1959-63
 
Located ten miles south of Little Rock on U.S. Highway 67, very little is known about this drag strip other than a fatal accident occurred here on June 21, 1959. Jimmy Camp, age 20, from Little Rock, was killed when he went off the end of the track at an estimated 105 MPH in a roadster.  On September 15, 1962, Thomas Burris, age 27, was killed when his B altered left the race track and crashed into a tree. He died instantly. Newspapers reported that the track was called Little Rock Drag Strip, but it was mentioned to be ten miles south of Little Rock, the same distance reported in the 1959 fatal accident of Jimmy Camp. Research in old newspapers hasn't uncovered anything more about a drag strip in this location other than these two fatal acccidents. This track is a bit of a mystery. The August 1959 issue of Car Craft  and January 1959 issue of Hot Rod stated that there was an NHRA-sanctioned drag strip in Little Rock. The Mid-South Timing Association held races on the first and third Sunday, May through October. This might be this drag strip. A collection of trophies photographed online shows a Little Rock Drag Strip trophy dated 1963.
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George Ray's Dragstrip (Paragould)

  • Years of Operation: 1961-present
 
This venerable drag strip has the distinction of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located east of Paragould, one-half mile south of U.S. Highway 412  on the east side of  Arkansas Highway 135, this concrete strip is 31 feet wide and 2,960 feet long. It opened for business in November 1961 as a quarter-mile drag strip. It prides itself as being the "last heads-up only dragstrip on the planet Earth."  As speeds of the racing increased, it shortened the timed distnce to 1000 feet, then to its present 1/8th-mile. There is still a spectator catwalk above the starting area that dates from the early years. A history of the track states that George Ray built the track because of a bad experience he had racing in Tennessee. He apparently didn't like the way some other operators ran their tracks so he built his own. George is remembered as something of a whirling dervish, doing everything from classifying to inspecting to having fun racing his own car. An early newspaper article reported that three Blytheville men, including Jimmy Sellers, came home with trophies from racing on Sunday, August 2, 1964 in three different stock classes. It is also called George Ray's Wildcat Dragstrip.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of driving to and into George Ray's Dragstrip, 1 minute

Hope Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1966-68
 
Drag races were held at the Hope Municipal Airport, located four miles northwest of Hope, at least as early as 1966, if not earlier. At least by 1967, it was sanctioned by NHRA and ran every second and fourth Sunday. Bob Thompson was the track manager that year.
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CLICK HERE to see location on a map
August 13, 1967

Little Rock Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation:  1968
 
It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .  Research has been unable to find any other information.
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Newport Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1964-present
 
This NHRA-sanctioned drag strip opened for racing on the first and third Sundays in 1964. It ran on the second and fourth Sundays in 1967. Charles Doyle was the track manager that year.  It used and continues to use an old taxiway on the north side of the Newport Airport, located northeast of Newport.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Newport Dragstrip, 2010, 1:05 minutes

Prescott Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1973-77
 
Drag races were held at the Prescott Airport (now called Kizer Field), located one mile east of Prescott. Bob Futrell of Shreveport organized and ran the races that fall. The first race was held on Sunday, September 30, 1973. Several hundred spectators watched Jimmy Post of Texarkana win the $100 first place money in the modified division.
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1973
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Prescott Raceway Park

  • Years of Operation: 1977-present
 
Research shows that this track opened as a quarter-mile track in 1977. A newspaper ad for a big race on Sunday, September 11, 1977, stated that the strip was "the newest and finest racing facility in the Southwest." Adger Smith, who built Prescott with a partner, said, "We started building in 1976. Started moving all the lights & equipment from Whitehouse in late '76 & early '77.  We had some warm up races in late, late '77. First full season in '78. I sold out to my partner after the '78 season." The track was under NHRA sanction from the beginning, but now runs as a 1/8th-mile outlaw track. There was one period when it timed races for 1,000 feet. On that September 11, 1977 race, Ray Motes took three straight wins in his Kansas-based top fuel dragster against Fred Snavely's Vega funny car.
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September 11, 1977
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Prescott Raceway, 2007, 4:26 minutes

Razorback Dragway (Fort Smith)

  • Years of Operation: 1963-ca. 1970
 
The drag strip appeared on Hot Rod's NHRA track listings at least as early as August 1963, running every Sunday. A drag race was held on March 15, 1964. The runway of the strip was extended to 3,180 feet in time for the 2-day tri-state drag race on May 23-24, 1964. Track manager Jimmy Pate put up $800 for that race.
 
 
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March 15, 1964
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Razorback Dragway in 1970, 3:59 minutes, no sound/music only, filmed by Heath Roper

Shumaker Naval Ammunition Depot (Camden)

  • Years of Operation: 1962
 
The Navy operated the Naval Ammunition Depot (NAD) from 1944 until 1947 for manufacture, storage, testing, and destruction of bombs, explosives, ammunition, and rocket motors. It is now Highland Industrial Park for defense contractors. In 1962 the Brown Engineering Company permitted the Camden Car Club to hold drag races on the grounds. Newspaper reports called it the NAD drag strip. The first race was held on September 30, 1962. Speeds during the race approached 150 MPH by dragsters. Trophies were awarded to class winners. Research was unable to uncover any other information other than a little about this single race. 
 
 
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Springdale "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1975
 
The Northwest Arkansas Auto Association conducted its first drag race on a closed-off Ford Avenue in Springdale on Sunday, May 18, 1975. Chuck Mayes of Fayetteville was the overall winner. Races were held in 1975 about once a month. On June 29, 65 entries raced with Jerry Pratt winning the stock option class in his 1955 Chevy. At the July 13 race, a $150 purse was divvied up between winners and runner-ups in the showroom stock and stock option classes. The entry fee was $5 for racing and no admission for spectators. The final races were held on August 17 and August 31. $400 was the total purse for the last race of the season. Curtis Morris, Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, wrote: "Ford Avenue was simply a dead-end street at the time, blocked off to allow racing.  No bleachers, no facilities. There was an Arkansas State Police Troop L building near the eastern end of Ford Avenue, and some people think they were the ones that allowed the legal racing there. This was apparently an effort to curb the illegal racing that was already going on at that location and other places around Springdale.  To make that happen, the Springdale PD had to be involved."  Racing was only held in 1975.
 
 
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State Fairgrounds Dragway (Little Rock)

  • Years of Operation: 2002-?
 
James Birch filed incorporation papers for State Fairgrounds Dragway on May 1, 2002.  1/8th-mile drag races were held through September in 2002. Racers were charged $25 to enter and spectators were admitted for $6.  Research didn't uncover whether racing continued past the first year.
 
 
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Stuttgart Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1968-72
 
According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture , drag races were held on a runway of Stuttgart Army Airfield. It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .   On May 18, 1969, Dave Campos of Albuquerque, New Mexico, rode his fuel Harley to a world record 161.6 MPH at 9.37 ET at the first-ever national motorcycle drag championships. More research is needed.
 
 
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Thunderbird Dragway (Walnut Ridge)

  • Years of Operation: 1963
 
Drag races were being held on a runway of this circa 1942 World War II Army airfield by  August 1963. NHRA-sanctioned races were held on the second and fourth Sunday of every month. According to the story of one old timer, this track only ran for a very few weeks. Purportedly George Ray didn't like this track competing with his Sunday racing action. He visited the mayor of Walnut Ridge with a brown paper bag full of money. That doomed racing henceforth at Walnut Ridge. It's a good story, and possibly true. The airport was given to the city of Walnut Ridge in the late 1940s.
 
 
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