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CONNECTICUT

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Thompson Speedway (1958)
Lime Rock Park (1958)
Connecticut Dragway (East Haddam) (1960)
Injected Chevy dragster at Connecticut Dragway, ca. 1960s. Photograph by Ben Labaree

Connecticut Dragway (East Haddam)

 
Frank Maratta of Hartford ran this drag strip, which he opened under NHRA-sanction and ran every Sunday. Maratta began planning for the strip in 1958, and had it open for racing in 1960. The Nutmeg State Timing Association conducted the races. On June 3, 1962, Art Arfons was unable to bring his "Cyclops" jet dragster to a stop before going off the end of the track into the woods after making a 184 MPH run. The parachutes didn't deploy. State police inspectors on the scene were reluctant to permit him to make a second run, but weren't sure they had authority to stop him. On the second run, the parachutes worked and slowed him after a 203 MPH run. A few days later, state police ruled that there would be no more drag racing by cars with jet engines in Connecticut. Maratta closed the dragway in 1979, but many investors pitched in and re-opened it as Connecticut International Raceway. It closed for good in 1985.
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Listing in ​National Dragster, Dec. 23, 1977. Courtesy of Mel Bashore
CLICK HERE to listen to old screaming radio promo ads for Connecticut Dragway
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Connecticut Dragway in early 1960s, pan to 7:15 minute mark of clip, finished at 10:49 mark of clip
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Connecticut Dragway in early 1970s, 2 minutes, no sound
1991 aerial view of Connecticut Dragway

Lime Rock Park

 
In the late 1950s, Jim Vaill built a 1.5-mile asphalt-surface road course in Lime Rock, which opened for racing in 1957. Vaill owned and operated a gravel pit on the site, too. The40-foot wide, 2,000-foot straight-away on this historic road course (still in operation today) was used for timed quarter-mile drag races on March 29-30, 1958. Newspapers reported that it was the first drag racing event of the season, which leads to speculation that the road course might have been used for drag racing in 1957, but documentation has not been found to support that. Research hasn't uncovered any other drag racing event at this road course.
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1991 aerial view of Lime Rock Park Raceway

Thompson Speedway

 
A drag strip was laid out on the straightaway of the half-mile oval track, directly in front of the grandstand. The track was sanctioned by the U. S. Timing Association. The drag strip had been sought by many hot rod groups in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. A series of races were run in the summer of 1958. Twenty-five trophies were awarded weekly. After the first month of racing, class winners had come from the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and southern New England. Motorcycles were added to the program on July 20, with thirty entering on that date.
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CLICK HERE to see location on a map