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Drag Strip List

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia

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FLORIDA

Zephyrhills Airfield (1950)
Homestead Air Force Base (1952)
Lake Wales Municipal Airport (1952)
St. Lucie Airport "Drag Strip" (1952)
Amelia Earhart Field (Hialeah) (1954)
Brooksville Municipal Airport (1954)
Kay Larkin Airport (Palatka) (1954)
Panama City "Drag Strip" (1954)
Lake City Municipal Airport (1955)
Prospect Field (Fort Lauderdale) (1956)
Sebring Airstrip (1956)
Tyndall Air Force Base (1956)
Kissimmee Airfield (1957)
Pensacola Drag Strip (1957)

Dunnellon Airport (1958)
Flagler Beach Airport (Daytona Beach) (1958)
Venice Municipal Airport (1958)​​
Davie Drags (1959)
Golden Triangle Drag Strip/Twin City Dragway (Oldsmar) (1959)
Master Airfield (Miami) (1959)
Sebastian Municipal Airport (1959)
Spruce Creek Airport (Daytona Beach) (1959)
Eau Gallie Speedway (1950s)
Panama City "Drag Strip" (1960)
St. Petersburg "Drag Strip" (1960)
Sunshine Drag Strip/Showtime Dragstrip (Clearwater) (1960)
Thunderbolt Raceway (Orange Park) (1960)
Daytona International Speedway (1961)
Osceola Drag Strip (1961)
Sunset Dragway (Panama City Beach) (1961)
Seminole Dragway (Tallahassee) (1962)
Buccaneer Drag Strip (Fernandina Beach) (1963)
Malone Drag Strip (Bascom) (1963)
Valkaria Dragway (1963)
Palm Beach International Raceway (Jupiter) (1965)
Central Florida Dragway/Orlando Speed World Dragway (1966)
DeLand Municipal Airport (1966)
Miami-Hollywood Speedway Park (Pembroke Pines) (1966)
Okaloosa Drag Strip (Baker) (1966)
Pensacola Drag Raceway (1966)
Andalusia Drag Strip (1968)
Gainesville Raceway (1969)
Jacksonville Dragway (1969)
Buckingham Drag Strip (Fort Myers) (1960s)
Klondike Dragway (Pensacola) (1960s)​
Tampa Dragway (1960s)
Lakeland International Raceway/Drag Strip (1970)
DeSoto Memorial DragwayBradenton Motorsports Park (1971)
Naples "Drag Strip" (1976)
Immokalee Airport (1977)
Panama City Beaches Speedway (1977)
Powerhouse Drag Strip/Breakaway Dragway (Fountain) (1991) 
Emerald Coast Dragway (Holt) (1998)
Countyline Dragway (Pembroke Pines) (2007)

Flagler Beach Airport (1958)
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Ollie Olsen's A/G Willys at Miami Speedway Park, 1966. Photographer unknown

Amelia Earhart Field (Hialeah)

  • Years of Operation: 1954-late 1970s
 
Located at the north end of East 8th Avenue in Hialeah, drag races were held here for three decades. They were also held at the larger Master Field airport adjacent to it on the east side. The South Florida Timing Association conducted a drag race there on March 1, 1959. In 1959-62, the racing was sanctioned by NHRA and races were held on the first and third Sunday of each month. Ernie Schorb and Harry Steele, members of the Cabriolets car club,  were two of the men who ran the drag races. One online source dates drag racing at Amelia Earhart to 1954 when it apparently hosted the Florida State Championships, and thereafter annually until the late 1970s. Today nothing remains of the old airfield. It was bounded on the north by East 65th Avenue, on the south by the Little River Canal, on the east by rail tracks, and west by East 8th Avenue.
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1959
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Andalusia Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1968
 
At a race in September 1968, R. D. Helms of Crestview took top eliminator honors in his 1957 Chevy. The exact location and years of operation of this drag strip are not known and need more research.
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Brooksville Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1954-59
 
Drag races were first conducted on this airport drag strip in 1954 by the West Coast Timing Association. It had a concrete surface, which proved conducive to fast speeds and times. The airport was first built and opened by the U. S. Army Air Force, then sold after the war to the city of Brooksville. Don Garlits raced there a lot in 1956,1957, and 1958, calling it one of his favorite drag strips. He especially enjoyed it because the races were well run by the Junior Chamber of Commerce.  Information is found on it in Hot Rod Magazine, (Apr. 1954): 51, but more research is needed. The race on October 26, 1958, was the strip's first under NHRA sanction.  In April 1959, Don Garlits set an unofficial world record of 185.66 MPH at Brooksville.
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Buccaneer Drag Strip (Fernandina Beach)

  • Years of Operation: 1963-64
 
This drag strip operated at least as early as 1963 on a runway at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport. Nick Smith was the track manager in the 1963-64 era. At one gas dragster meet during that period, Pete Robinson set a strip record with 173.07 MPH and 8.44 ET. More research is needed to identify the range of years this track operated.
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October 13, 1963

Buckingham Drag Strip (Fort Myers)

  • Years of Operation: 1960s
 
Located ten miles east of Fort Myers, drag races began being held on a discontinued concrete runway at Buckingham Air Force Base by at least the early 1960s, but possibly in the late 1950s. It was sanctioned by NHRA by at least 1962. In 1963 Hot Rod Magazine schedule lists it was just called Fort Myers Drag Strip. On March 25, 1962, Dennis Cravero, age 23 from Coral Gables, was killed driving his Olds-powered dragster. He lost control after being clocked at 157.985 MPH. The Buckingham track held an NHRA points meet on May 15, 1966.  Jay Feener attended a race at Buckingham and vividly remembers seeing a cow wander across the strip during the races in the shudown area. It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .  More research is needed to find the specific years this track operated and more of its history.
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Central Florida Dragway/Orlando Speed World Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1966-present
 
According to an online source , drag racing started in 1966. It was sanctioned by NHRA at least as early as December 1967, if not earlier. In that year it raced every Saturday night from April through October and every Sunday during the other months. Billy Herndon ran the track at that time.
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Central Florida Dragway, ​ 1972 topo map
Central Florida Dragway, ​ 1969 aerial photo
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Central Florida Dragway, 1970, 1:24 minutes

Countyline Dragway (Pembroke Pines)

  • Years of Operation:  2007-14
 
This 1/8th-mile IHRA-sanctioned drag strip was opened by owner Tony Munoz in 2007 in South Florida. It was on the western outskirts of Pembroke Pines in the greater Miami area. It used to be the Opa-Locka West Airport, but that airport closed in 2006 and opened for drag racing the next year.  In 2008, the track built a skidpad to serve as a venue for drifting. Unfortunately this strip was the scene of many bad racing crashes during its brief life (see YouTube). The reason given by the owner for its closing was "rock mining." Since the closing of the airport in 2006, the county had alwayys had plans for using the land for quarrying.
CLICK HERE to see video footage of drag racing crash at Countyline Dragway, 2007, 1:12 minutes
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Davie Drags

  • Years of Operation: 1959-61
 
The Broward Auto Club conducted NHRA-sanctioned races on the second and fourth Sunday of each month at the Fort Lauderdale-Davie Airport. This airfield opened as a Navy training airfield in World War II. It was a wagon-wheel configuration with four 3,000-foot paved runways with a circular taxiway running around the periphery. During the war it was called Forman NOLF. Drag races may have begun in the late 1950s, but more research is needed to see the specific year they started.  Charlie Henault recalled, “My father used to manage a JrU-Tote-Um store across Davie Boulevard from Forman Field in 1957-60.  I would work with him on the weekends while drag races were going on Saturday and Sundays. I was 12 at the time and my job was to sort the soda bottles that were turned in for the 2 cent deposit. There had to be thousands as I would spend all day sorting, both days. When I looked out from the backroom to see what was going on in the front of the store, it was packed. All I can remember the amount of people in the store. They were packed in like sardines. They were all from the races.
This was like this all summer long. This was a very popular event for the Broward community. As I got older I would ride my bike to Forman Field and ride up and down the runways at dusk. I would catch snakes who would crawl on the runways for the heat stored there. I would collect enough to sell to Bill Hass. Bill required 3 burlap bags to make it worth while to him and me and I would be able to get them in 5 or 6 trips. When I got my first car I found a tire dump at the end of the Northwest runway. I would go there and find retread tires that had the sidewall cut but the bead was still good. I could patch the inside of the sidewall and have a free tire.” The old airfield is now the site of the South Florida Education Center, comprising the campuses of
Nova University, Broward Community College, the University of Florida,
Florida International University, and Florida Atlantic University.
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Daytona International Speedway

  • Years of Operation: 1961-62
 
During Daytona Speed Week prior to 1961, drag races were held at various different locations. Starting in 1961, the drag races were held on the long backstretch of the 2.5-mile speedway at 7 P.M. every day from February 17-24.
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DeLand Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1966-70
 
This city-owned airport is located three miles northeast of DeLand. Its history dates back to the 1920s, with military use during World War II, then reverting back to civil use. On February 18, 1966, Bobby Tatroe ran 226.12 MPH in the "Exodus" jet dragster at the International Drag Festival, a NASCAR-sponsored event held during Speed Week. NASCAR also held a Winternational drag race at DeLand and Daytona in 1967.  An old timer watched a drag race at the airport during NASCAR's Speed Week in February 1970. He recalled, "Spectated at a night match race between Big Daddy and Sneaky Pete Robinson at Deland Florida airport in February '70, Thursday or Friday night of Speedweek. IIRC single old time search light mounted on the back of a flatbed pointed down the runway for illumination. It  got a little dim down in shutdown. First time I had seen a fire burnout. Wild!"  Occasional drag races have also been held at the airport in recent years.
CLICK HERE to see motorcycle drag races at DeLand Airport, 2009, 4:45 minutes
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DeSoto Memorial Dragway/Bradenton Motorsports Park

  • Years of Operation: 1971-present
 
When this track first opened in 1971, it began hosting the IHRA Snowbird Nationals, a traditional winter race whose tradition has persisted now for decades. Stanley Swartz and Gene Tharp built the track and owned it until 1984. In that year, they sold the drag strip to Art Malone, but kept the adjacent oval track. The track has had one race-driver fatality in its history, which happened in 1966 when Rick Metts was killed while testing his Plymouth Duster Pro Stock race car. Crew chief Herb Parks was also killed in 1988 in a freak accident when his top fuel car backed over him during a race at the starting line. The track name was changed to Brandenton Motorsports Park about 2001. It continues to operate as an IHRA sanctioned track today.
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The simple layout of the DeSoto Dragway is evident in this 1975 topo map
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Desoto Memorial Dragway, 1994, 3:15 minutes

Dunnellon Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1958
 
A drag race was scheduled for Sunday, April 6, 1958, on the airport runway. It was sponsored by the Peninsular Timing Åssociation. Races were timed at quarter- and half-mile distances. Top eliminator trophy was to be awarded to the best time at the half-mile distance. Two races were held in January 1958, one attracting a record 400 people. Directions were a bit confusing, giving the airport strip as six miles east of the city on the Dunnellon cutoff from Road 200 on Highway 484.
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Emerald Coast Dragway ​(Holt)

  • Years of Operation: 1998-2011, 2017
 
Bruce Haught and Vernon "Chip" Kooser filed incorporation papers for this 1/8th-mile IHRA-sanctioned drag strip on November 2, 1997. The track opened for racing in May 1998. It was a fast 1/8th-mile track, recording one of the first 3-second Pro Mod runs in 2006, by Joey Moore of Alabama. Richard and Kelly Stephens bought the track in September 2008 from Tim and Sonya Tindle, unaware of the true financial situation and all the improvements needed. After a 2-year legal battle and significant financial outlay, they finally decided to close the track for good in late 2011. They just could not afford to make the necessary improvements and had defaulted on their payments to the Tindles. They had spent their life savings in the effort, but just couldn't make it work.. In 2016, Ozzy Moya bought Emerald Coast and reopened it for racing after making significant upgrades. It was the fourth strip that he acquired and brought back into operation.
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July 4, 1998
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CLICK HERE to view TV report of Ozzy Moya purchasing the shuttered Emerald Coast Dragway in 2016, 1:43 minutes
CLICK HERE to see video footage of  Emerald Coast Dragway in 2008, 1:19 minutes

Eau Gallie Speedway

  • Years of Operation: late 1950s
 
According to DSL reader Jerry Patterson, his dad (Pat) used to compete in drag races at Eau Gallie Speedway. That oval track was built and operated by Larry Sunbrock in 1957. Research has not found when drag races were a part of its racing program. The oval track was also called Melbourne Speedway.
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Flagler Beach Airport (Daytona Beach)

  • Years of Operation: 1957-60
 
The first drag races at the airport were held in March 1957, sponsored by the Kingsmen's Club of Flagler Beach under NASCAR supervision. In May 1957, races began being held every second and fourth Sunday. Drag races were held nightly between February 15-22, 1958 during the NASCAR International Safety and Performance Trials. They were held in conjunction with runs on the measured mile runs on Daytona Beach. Speed Week held the drag races there in 1959 and 1960 also. NHRA held its first Winternationals race here, in a combined race with NASCAR in 1960. They awarded marble trophies to class winners (see photo of trophy in Rick Goodsell's Memoiries ).
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NHRA/NASCAR 1960 Winter Nationals program. Courtesy of Rick Goodsell

Gainesville Raceway

  • Years of Operation: 1969-present
 
The track, originially owned and built by James Raulerson, opened in 1969 and hosted the first Gatornationals event in 1970. In announcing Gainesville Dragway (the name it went by originally) as the site for the Gatornationals, Wally Parks said, "We chose Gainesville because of the excellent facilities here and because it is so conveniently located." The first Gatornationals was held on February 13-15, 1970 with a purse totalling more than $140,000. The winners in the top three pro categories were Dave Chenevert (top fuel), Leonard Hughes (funny car), and Bill Jenkins (pro stock). In the 1971 Gatornationals, Jimmy King took top fuel, Leroy Goldstein captured funny car, and Ronnie Sox garnered pro stock. The Gatornationals has been the site of a number of drag racing firsts: the first 260 MPH runs in Top Fuel and Funny Car (1984), and the first 270 MPH and 300 MPH runs in Top Fuel (1986 and 1992). In about 1974, it began being called Gainesville Raceway (instead of Gainesville Dragway).
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CLICK HERE to see Diamond P TV broadcast of Gatornationals at Gainesville, 1985, 45:27 minutes

Golden Triangle Drag Strip/Twin City Dragway (Oldsmar)

  • Years of Operation: ca. 1959-78
 
This track, also known as Twin City Dragway, was in a rural outback area, literally a swamp, of northwest Hillsborough County in the vicinity of Oldsmar. Jim Kaylor, one of the original owners, talked a farmer into putting a drag strip into the middle of his cow pasture. Research dates its beginning to at least 1959, but it might have been operating even earlier. William Frazier from Sebring, Florida, was making a run on May 24, 1959, in his B dragster when his car went out of control after turning 142 MPH. He overturned at the end of the track and was killed. Afterwards the drag strip decided that in the future dragsters would only be permitted to run 1/8th of a mile. This was one of probably  two deaths that occurred at this track, according to the memory of one of the starting line flaggers . A teenage girl was killed when a dragster driven by Jan Ruble crashed through a fence into a parked car in 1964. The former flagman also remembered that the strip was run by the Blockbusters car club. Don Garlits ran there because it was close to where he lived, not necessarily because he favored the strip. Garlits was making a run at Golden Triangle in 1961 when his engine blew up during a 185 MPH run and he suffered burns on his face and hands.  It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip . Robets Scadron filed incorporation papers for Twin City Drag Strip on January 26, 1970.
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Homestead Air Force Base

  • Years of Operation: 1952-54
 
A drag race meet was scheduled for this air base near Miami on November 6-7, 1954.  One online source dates the first drag races at Homestead to 1952, but says they were short-lived. More research is needed.
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Immokalee Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1977
 
Naples police officer Bill Beattie, who was also president of the Southwest Florida Timing Association, obtained tentative permission from the Collier County commissioners to use the taxiway at the airport for drag racing in July 1976. But it took a year before all the stipulations requested by the commissioners could be resolved, including getting FAA approval. The first race was held on Sunday, June 5, 1976. It was sponsored by the Collier County Fraternal Order of Police and the Southwest Florida Timing Association. Admission  was $3 to watch and $5 to race. The plan was to hold races every other Sunday. The inaugural race attracted about 30 racers and more than an equal number of spectator cars. Rain halted the race before the final eliminations. Gas, modified, and stock classes were represented. Trophies and cash prizes were awarded at the race held on June 19. Although the plan was for races to be held on alternating Sundays, that didn't happen at the start. Other races were  held on July 10 and August 7. They obtained $2,000 worth of new timing equipment to be used at the races on Labor Day. In the ten weeks of racing, the track grossed $13,700. However the timing association was told by the FAA that they could not shut down the airport three times a month to hold their races. An alternative was proposed that the county build a drag strip north of the airport, but the commissioners balked at the $110,000 price tag. Instead, they said they might be willing to lease the land to the timing association if it wanted to build the strip. With this development, racing concluded after just a single year at the airport.
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Jacksonville Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1969-2004
 
A 1/8th-mile drag strip was a part of a racing complex that included a dirt oval and a kart track.  The December 1970 issue of Hot Rod listed Jacksonville Dragway as an NHRA-sanctioned track.
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Kay Larkin Airport (Palatka)

  • Years of Operation: 1954
 
The Rebel Road Runners of Palatka and the North Florida Roadster Club of Jacksonville co-sponsored the South Eastern Championship Drag Races on July 3-4, 1954, at the Palatka airport. Information about this race appeared in a 1954 issue of Hot Rod Magazine, but more research is needed.
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Kissimmee Airfield

  • Years of Operation: ca. 1957-61
 
Opened in 1940, this U. S. Army Airfield, was a venue for some of Don Garlits' early runs. In about August 1957 Garlits ran a 9.95 second quarter and a then-personal best speed of 156.52 MPH. In late 1957, he ran 167 MPH at the annual Florida championships put on by the Central Florida Timing Association. In May 1958 he ran 163.53 MPH at 9.87 seconds at Kissimmee, his "favorite" track in Florida. In summer 1958, he posted three runs under nine seconds at Kissimmee, the first time in drag racing history that someone had cracked the nine second barrier three consecutive times. In fall 1958 he ran 174.75 MPH, the then-fastest speed on an asphalt strip. The Central Florida Timing Association conducted races on the first Sunday of every month in 1959 and the first and third Sunday in 1960-61. It was sanctioned by NHRA during those years. The city commission halted racing at the airport in 1962. More research is needed to find out when drag racing first started on this airfield.
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February 14-15, 1959
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Klondike Dragway (Pensacola)

  • Years of Operation: 1960s
 
This 1/8th-mile track owned by the Vannoy family operated at least as early 1964, if not earlier. It ran in a northeast to southwest direction. It purportedly closed in the late 1960s. Kenny , who raced here in the late 1960s, recalled one memorable moment: "E.J. Potter, 'The Michigan Madman' riding a Harley with a Chevy V-8 mounted on it, didn't shut down right and went thru the sand bed and 4-foot tall pine trees that was at the end of the strip. He went so far into the trees that it took two wreckers, one hooked to the other, to pull the bike out. A lot of memories there."
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Lake City Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1955
 
Don Garlits garnered his first win at an NHRA-sponsored Safety Safari drag racing event at the airport strip at Lake City in 1955. He took Top Eliminator, recording 12.1 seconds at 108.17 MPH, the fastest run of his life.  The airport was built by the Navy during World War II, then conveyed to the city of Lake City after the war.
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Lake Wales Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1952-59
 
Don Garlits cut his teeth drag racing on the airport runway strip at Lake Wales, the closest racing strip to his home. He began racing there in 1952, but had his first major victory there, winning top eliminator in a 1955 meet against the Norton Brothers and Charlie "King" Hogan.  Opened in 1928 as a civil airport, it was leased in 1943 for use as an auxiliary airfield by the U. S. Army Air Force. The Army built two 4,000 foot runways, which were returned to civilian control in 1945. A race held on September 19, 1954, was sponsored by the Tach Twirlers car club. The Triangle Timing Association conducted races in 1959-60 on the second Sunday of the month. In 1959, the track record was 10.6 seconds.
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Lakeland International Raceway/Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1970-present
 
Incorporation papers were filed by C. W. "Dub" Palmore, the owner, for Lakeland International Raceway, the track's first name, on October 19, 1970. The track, located four miles north of Lakeland, was also variously called Lakeland International Dragway or Lakeland Dragway. The strip operated as a quarter-mile track at first, but when its shutdown area land was sold for industrial development after a few years, it shortened to a 1/8th-mile drag strip.  The track operates as an IHRA-sanctioned 1/8th-mile track today. It was called Stingray Dragway for a few years recently, but is back to its old Lakeland Drag Strip name now. IHRA held its first Winter Nationals race at Lakeland in 1972. The three-day race drew a capacity crowd despite being marred by rain and forced to finish the race on Monday night. Richard Tharp took the funny car title in the "Blue Max." The IHRA Winter Nationals returned to stage it again in 1973 on March 2-4. Pat Foster, driving the Barry Setzer Vega, beat Ron O'Donnell to take the funny car title with a 6.63 ET. Don Carlton took Pro Stock in his "Mopar Missile." On October 12-14, 1973, IHRA staged the Nationals, its season finals, at Lakeland. The IHRA Winter Nationals returned to Lakeland again in 1974. In May 1974, Jerry Gwynn was the low qualifier and Don Teague was second low qualifier in the Funny Car Spectacular show. Mike Evegens turned 248 MPH in his jet dragster and Richard Hutchins made some exhibition runs in his wheelstanding "Chevy Rebellion" truck. The Coca Cola Cavalcade of Funny Cars event was held on June 16, 1974. In 1976, the Professional Racers Organization headed by Don Garlits, held its "Nationals '76" race at Lakeland on November 12-14. In 1976, IHRA held its Winter Nationals at Miami-Hollywood Speedway Park, but opened its racing season with a 2-day Winter Classic at Lakeland on February 21-22. Motorcycle road races were also run at Lakeland in the 1970s. Roy Spiker, who owned the strip in 2007, was in negotiations to sell the strip to a Chicago-based development group, but the deal fell through and he resumed a racing program.
CLICK HERE to see nostalgia drag race at Lakeland, 2011, 16:37 minutes
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Malone Drag Strip (Bascom)

  • Years of Operation: 1963
 
Located five miles north of Bascom on State Highway 2, this track opened on June 16, 1963. They charged $1 admission for weekly racing on Sunday. On July 14, 1963, R. E. Reynolds won the Super Stock class. Research has uncovered very little information about this drag strip; more research is needed.
 
 
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June 16, 1963

Master Airfield (Miami)

  • Years of Operation: 1959-68
 
The South Florida Timing Association conducted races on the first and third Sunday. Drag races may have been held here as early as 1958. It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip . This airfield dates back to the early 1930s and was also known as South Field. It was adjacent to and east of Amelia Earhart Field, which was smaller and also hosted drag races. Master Field was used by the Navy until 1959 when they closed it for military use. In the early 1960s, the large airport began being redeveloped as the North Campus of Miami-Dade Community College.
 
 
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Miami-Hollywood Speedway Park (Pembroke Pines)

  • Years of Operation: 1966-92
 
The Miami-Hollywood Motorsports Park racing complex opened in March 1966. It was comprised of a quarter mile drag strip and oval track. It went through a number of name changes during its history including Miami Speedway, Miami Speedway Park, Miami Dragway, Miami-Hollywood Speedway, and others. It was sanctioned by NHRA (beginning in 1968) and IHRA at different times. Norman W. Johnson managed the track in 1968.  On November 1, 1974, Emmett Cline, a spectator, drove his car onto the track and sped down the track the wrong way at 90 MPH, crashed through a retaining wall, and plowed into a group of spectators, killing a 12-year-old boy and injuring three others. In 1975 and 1976, the IHRA Winternationals was held here. Encroaching housing spelled the demise of the race track, which held its final race on December 12, 1992. The housing subdivision of Pembroke now sits on the site of the former drag strip.
 
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Miami-Hollywood Speedway IHRA racing event, 1975, 3:23 minutes, no sound
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Miami-Hollywood Speedway's final race, Dec. 12, 1992, 6:04 minutes

Naples "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation:   1976
 
In an experiment to try to curb illegal street racing, vandalism, and promote better relations between teenagers and police, Westview Drive in an industrial area was closed by the police to hold a supervised drag race. It was held on Sunday, April 11, 1976. Ten area businessmen also supported the event that attracted almost 300 racers.  With this interest, officer Bill Beattie spearheaded an effort to obtain nearby Immokalee Airport as a place to hold regular supervised races. It took a year of work, but races were finally permitted at the airport in mid-1977 (see above).
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Okaloosa Drag Strip (Baker)

  • Years of Operation: 1967-73, 1975-77?
 
Research points to this drag strip being built in 1966 by Wayne Reeves. Incorporation papers for the drag strip were filed on August 18, 1966, by Wayne Reeves.  It was located on Galliver Cutoff in Baker., ten miles west of Crestview One thousand shares of common stock was sold at $10 per share to help finance the construction. The track opened for racing on June 10, 1967. On June 24, 1967, they featured what was billed as "the South's first wheelie match race."  Joe Vanni's "Bardahl Bug" was pitted against J. C. Sizemore's "Baby Golden Rod" wheelstander. In 1972, it was sanctioned by the IHRA.  Research was unable to uncover any information about racing after 1973, but more research is needed. Newspaper articles in 1975-77 made reference to Baker Drag Strip, which may be a continuation of the old track or a different strip altogether.
 
 
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June 10, 1967
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Osceola Drag Strip (Geneva)

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1961-ca. 1968
 
This airfield was built in 1943 as an auxiliary gunnery field for Sanford Naval Air Station, located to the west. The airfield consisted of four paved 4,100' runways and taxiways. It was declared surplus after the war.   Sonny Hartley recalled, “When I was in high school in the early 1960s, drag races were held on the old airstrip every other Saturday night. That was from about 1961-67."  Jay Feener went to the races at this old airfield strip in 1962. He remembered driving several miles through orange groves to get to it and that the timing tower sat on four upraised telephone poles. The strip ran under NHRA sanction in 1967, if not before, on every second and fourth Saturday night and every fifth Sunday.  It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip . The site of the old airfield is now the site of the county landfill.
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Palm Beach International Raceway (Jupiter)

  • Years of Operation: 1965-present
 
This racing complex near Jupiter, built at a cost of $1.5 million, comprises a 2-mile road course, kart track, and concrete-surface drag strip. Ed and Joe Buchek, father and son, developed the track. The track was initially operated by a few car clubs that joined together to form the Gulf Coast Timing Association. Research hasn't found the exact opening date of the drag strip, but a race was held on April 11, 1965. On either May 8 or May 9, 1965, Don Chason turned the fastest time in his AA/FD with a clocking of 173 MPH in 8.812 seconds. At a race held on Saturday night, July 9, 1966, the fastest run of the night was made by the Ballentine Brothers of Fort Myers who clocked 140.81 MPH. In about 1967, the Bucheks sold the track to Dave Rupp, a used car salesman. Jack Crozier, who drove Ollie Olsen's Willys, was the track announcer when Rupp owned the track. One of the first major drag racing events held at the track was a 3-day event held on April 16-18, 1971. Almost $100,000 in cash and contingency money was posted for the AHRA Grand American Series of Professional Drag Racing Championships. Almost forty top fuel drivers competed including Don Garlits, Steve Carbone, Chris Karamesines, Jim Nicoll, Bill Tidwell, John Wiebe, Jimmy King, and Don Cook. In 1981 the track changed owners and its name to Moroso Motorsports Park. The Super Chevy Show events were very popular in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2008, the racing facility was purchased by a group of local motorsports enthusiasts, who restored the original name. They greatly improved the track surface. Today the drag strip is sanctioned by IHRA.
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April 11, 1965
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of PBIR nostalgia racing event, 2008, 2:45 minutes

Panama City "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1954
 
On July 4, 1954, the Panama City Motor Club staged drag races on a highway in back of the State Highway Patrol station. More research is needed.
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Panama City Beach "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1960
 
Drag races were purportedly conducted in Panama City, possibly at an airstrip, in November 1960. Trophies were awarded to class winners. The Sunset Dragway in Panama City Beach didn't open until 1962, so this may have been a different strip at possibly a different location.  More research is needed.
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Panama City Beaches Speedway

  • Years of Operation: 1977
 
This old 3/8th-mile paved oval speedway, that opened in 1969, held drag races on Saturday night, April 16 1977. It was open only to street legal cars. Trophies and cash were awarded to winners. Drag races were held each week through early June.  On Saturday night, May 7, 1977, John Emmi took first place in his '72 Javelin in the one-on-one drag races by beating Mike Arena in his '66 GTO. The speedway was located on 1801 Allison Avenue. The site of the old speedway is now a housing development and mobile home park.
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1977

Pensacola Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1957-64
 
Drag races were conducted at Corry Field, a Naval training airfield built west of Pensacola in 1927. The Navy use of Corry Field stopped in mid-1958. Incorporation papers were filed for Pensacola Drag Strip, Inc. on January 7, 1957.  An early, if not the first documented drag race, was held on March 10, 1957. Documentation is sparse, but research uncovered an advertisement for a September 22, 1962, race. Don Nicholson was the featured racer. The strip had lights because it was to be a Saturday night race. Pensacola Drag Raceway, incorporated in 1966, might have been located at Corry Field, but more research is needed.
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September 22, 1962

Pensacola Drag Raceway

  • Years of Operation: 1966-68
 
Incorporation papers were filed for Pensacola Drag Raceway on August 26, 1966. The racing distance was timed for 1250 feet. On Saturday, September 17, 1966, Buck Smith's "Quarterbender" B/S beat Ted Walker's "Would You Believe" GTO in a featured grudge match race. Racing switched to Sundays in October. There were over 75 cars competing on October 2. On Sunday, October 9, 1966, Buck Smith's "Quarterbender" raced Ken Simpson's A/S Chevy II in a best three-of-five match race. Research wasn't able to uncover the exact location or information about this track beyond 1968. It was listed in the February 1968 issue of Hot Rod as being under NHRA sanction. J. R. Mills managed the track that year. It opened that year on the first Saturday night in April.
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Powerhouse Drag Strip/Breakaway Dragway ​(Fountain)

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  • Years of Operation: 1991-ca. 2013
 
This 1/8th-mile concrete and asphalt strip opened in about late August 1991 for drag racing. Located north of Panama City, it was reached by taking State Highway 231 north to Highway 167 in Calhoun County, then Highway 274 for less than a mile to Apache Road, then south. It is located a few miles east of Fountain. It was sanctioned by NHRA at least by 1992. It was an IHRA sanctioned track beginning in 1995. Races were held through the 2000 season, but documentation could not be found for racing after that until the track changed its name to Breakaway Dragway in 2005. The track apparently ceased racing in about 2013.
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March 1992
CLICK HERE to see video footage of racing at Breakaway Dragway, 2013, 29:15 minutes

Prospect Field (Fort Lauderdale)

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1956-1960
 
Drag races were held on the old WWII airfield, which was named West Prospect Satellite Field in 1941. Jay Feener thought races were first held in about 1956 or 1955 and ended in about 1960. The airport is today's Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
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St. Lucie Airport "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1952-54
 
In August 1952, St. Lucie County commissioners granted permission for single-car only drag strip use of the taxi-strip on the edge of St. Lucie airport for timed drag racing runs. There were 24 entries in the first drag race, held on September 28, 1952.  Races were conducted and sanctioned by car clubs from the Florida cities of Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, and Melbourne. They comprised the Tri-County Timing Association. Cars were permitted to take flying or standing starts on the measured quarter mile.  In 1954, the Timing Association changed its name to the Junior Safety Council. In 1956, the Florida Suncoast Timing Association had to cancel a race scheduled for October 28. They had not been able to get a judge to sign their charter which they needed to operate as a sanctioned NHRA track.
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St. Petersburg "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1960
 
The Florida Championship Drag Races were held at a racing venue in St. Petersburg in September 1960. More research is needed.
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Sebastian Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1959-60
 
Built in 1943, it was known as Roseland Field. In 1959, the field was conveyed to the city of Sebastian for civilian use. One of the first drag races at the airfield was held on May 17, 1959. The Asphalt Angels car club of Fort Pierce sponsored the bi-weekly drag races at the airport under NHRA sanction. They were held on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. By July 26, 1959, the date of a racing event, the field was being called Sebastian Municipal Airport. At that race, John McCain of Merritt Island got top time of the meet in his 1957 Corvette with 104.408 MPH. There were 65 racers in attendance. In August 1959, race dates had also switched to the first and third Sundays of the month. In January 1960, race dates had reverted back to the second and fourth Sundays. Research has not uncovered any drag racing other than in 1959 and 1960.
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July 12, 1959

Sebring Airstrip

  • Years of Operation: 1956-59
 
Don Garlits stated that he raced in several drag races at the air strip at Sebring in about 1956. On May 31, 1959, Garlits won the Southeastern Drag Racing Title at Sebring with a time of 9.931 seconds at 152.28 MPH. Ed Pantley of Tampa was the runner-up to Garlits. A road racing course was established on the old World War II U. S. Army Airfield for the first sports car race in 1950. More research is needed.
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Seminole Dragway (Tallahassee)

  • Years of Operation: 1962-82
 
The Seiminole Dragway was established on the east-west runway of Dale Mabry Field, the municipal airport of Tallahassee from 1928 until it closed in 1961. Most online and published sources date the opening of Seminole Dragway to the mid-1960s, but there is good documentation to support 1962 as the opening year. According to Rick Bell , "Seminole Drag strip opened 4/22/62, and was run by Jack Patrick, a local speed shop owner, and a AA/D Dragster driver.” Bell raced at Seminole in the early years:  “One dragster, whose chute failed to open properly ran off of the end of the strip, jumped the road & crashed into a chain link fence. One weekend it rained severely in the morning but turned sunny by the afternoon so everybody showed up even though it had been called off. I raced the family car. I was 16 and in 10th grade. I left [Tallahassee] in June 1963 and the drag strip was still open.” On Sunday, May 20, 1962, Joe Beal's '62 Chevy won Super Stock and Stock eliminator honors at Seminole Dragway. A 2011 newspaper article stated that the track shut down in 1967 when a spectator, J. D. Shores, was killed. However his obituary (Panama City News, August 7, 1967)  stated he was killed at Tallahassee Speedway, which was an oval track. The 2011 article stated that the dragway reopened in the late 1970s. More research is needed.
 
 
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of the abandoned Seminole Dragway, 6:39 minutes

Spruce Creek Airport (Daytona Beach)

  • Years of Operation: 1959-68
 
Night drag races, sponsored by NASCAR, were held at this airport on February 15-21, 1959. Today it is a private airport in Port Orange, seven miles south of the central business district of Daytona Beach. NASCAR partnered with NHRA for the very first Winternationals, which was held (according to Don Garlits) at Spruce Creek on February 7-13, 1960. After a half year of sitting out of racing after his horrible crash, Don Garlits set up his fuel car to run gas and entered. He accumulated enough points in the week-long event to take the Top Gas eliminator. A detailed online source disputes Garlits's memory of the location of the event, stating that Flagler-Bunnell Airport, north of Daytona Beach, was the site of this first Winternationals. More research is called for to resolve this disparity. The Daytona Beach Custom and Timing Association conducted races on the second and fourth Sundays of each month in 1961. In 1963, races were held on the first and third Sundays. Some sources called it the Spruce Creek Drag Strip. NASCAR held its week-long Winter Nationals at Spruce Creek nightly in 1964 and 1965. The airport repeated as the site of the Winter Nationals on February 24-26, 1966.  It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .
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Sunset Dragway (Panama City Beach)

  • Years of Operation: 1961-71
 
This strip was located on Thomas Drive, next to the Navy Mine Defense Laboratory. Owned by Sol Stewart and Bill Glandt, the track first began running in 1961. By and large, except for occasional gas class shows, they focused on super stock racing. Spectators were drawn to the Fords vs. Chevy battles. Dave Raulerson was the track manager. In June 1962, they switched from Sunday racing to Saturday night racing. Generally the schedule was for Sunday racing during the winter on the first and third Sundays and weekly Saturday night racing during the hot months. On occasion, twist contests enlivened the track after races concluded. The drag strip reflected the prejudices inherent in the Deep South during the Sixties. On September 9, 1962, the strip held a segregated drag race. Advertisements stipulated that the race on that day was for "colored only." On May 18, 1963, Herman Moore, of Enterprise, Alabama, broke the track's super stock record with a run of 11.79 seconds. The track changed its name to Miracle Strip Speedway in 1968, but when Billy Jacobs and Jesse Childree bought the track in 1969, they renamed it Sunset Dragway. They booked in an energetic program of exhibition and feature cars in 1969 including top fuelers like Clayton Harris and lots of wheelstanders. In 1970, it started being called Sunset Drag Strip, but no information could be found after 1971. A newspaper article in January 1972 implies that the strip may have closed in 1971, possibly for safety reasons. Under the headline "Drag Strip to be Built," it reads: "The sport of drag racing is being revived here, but on a safety level, with cooperation from the highway patrol and county law enforcement officers. A drag strip sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association wil be built on U. S. 231 near the intersection with Highway 20." (Panama City News Herald, Jan. 25, 1972)  Research was unable to find if that new drag strip was ever built.
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September 1962
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August 3, 1968

Sunshine Drag Strip/Showtime Dragstrip (Clearwater)

  • Years of Operation:  1960-ca. 2004, 2007-present
 
This track began as a quarter-mile strip in 1960. It operated through at least the 1960s. In the January 1970 issue of Hot Rod, Sunshine Speedway was listed as a sanctioned NHRA track.On February 27-28, 1971, the track hosted the NAAR Winter Championship drag races. Legendary drag racer Art Malone owned the strip in the 1980s and 1990s. More research is needed to find out what year Sunshine closed. What happened was, the state of Florida bought the land the track was on to make a highway ramp. But they never got the funding for the project, so racing halted for a period of time. Preliminary research shows that the speedway oval adjacent to the strip suspended racing in 2004, so that is maybe when the drag strip closed. The track started operating again as Sunshine Drag Strip by 2007. But in 2012, a 1/8th-mile track called Showtime Dragstrip, owned by Robert Yoho began operating. The office and timing tower were renovated and new bathrooms built.  They also built new concrete walls extending the length of the 1/8th-mile strip. Apparently the old strip was able to run a quarter-mile because the starting line was back further than is presently the case at the new Showtime strip. Brian Lohnes has written about the Showtime Dragstrip:  "The course was basically created on a dead end city street. Originally run as a quarter mile facility, it is now an eighth mile strip and since it opened in 1960, the shutdown is actually 41st Street. Seriously. . . But wait. It gets better. 126th Avenue North actually CROSSES the drag strip at the finish line! For real. You can see tire tracks [on GoogleEarth] of a car coming up 126th and driving straight across the course. 126th must be a dirt road because that seems to be what it leaving the 'foot prints' on the traction compound treated asphalt. Want to get crazier? The end of the track is a steel gate. Why? Because about 50 feet past that is Ulmerton Rd, a busy thoroughfare. When fast cars run, the gate is open and someone apparently monitors traffic to make sure there isn’t complete and utter carnage down there." Although his writing makes for good copy, it might be best to actually visit the Showtime strip to see if, in fact, that's how it operates. Input from those who have raced or attended races at the track is invited.
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Sunshine Drag Strip, circa 1968, 4:23 minutes, no sound/music only
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Tampa Dragway

  • Years of Operation:  circa 1960s-1975

Research has not been able to find when this strip opened, but it may have been in the late 1950s, but its heyday was probably in the 1960s when Billy Herndon was the promoter. It was sanctioned by NHRA when races were conducted by the Stickshifters in 1962. It is long gone, but where the track once was is now a Rooms-to-Go warehouse. It was located on the south side of today's I-4 freeway and Mango Road. One old timer recalled, "There used to be a little drag strip down the road a piece that was so cool. You could drive your car in and park it under the pine trees along the strip which was below you a bit as the place to park was on a small hill. The strip (Tampa Dragway) ended a bit abruptly with a little ramp like ending. One day a chute didn't open and it launched a rail job right across the road at the end like a dart. Guy wasn't scratched but what a sight. I'll never forget how pathetic that rail looked with dirt crammed in the blower." On December 2, 1967, Hayden Proffitt's Grant SST Rambler Rebel won a two-out-of-three match over Larry Arnold's "Penetration" Charger at the 1,200-foot dragway strip. Speeds were "guess-timated" at 171-mph. Daredevil motorcycle jumper Bob Gill jumped a then-world record fifteen cars at Tampa Dragway in 1972. More research is needed to determine the years of its operation and details of its history.
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This 1971 aerial photo shows the location of the old Tampa Dragway, on the site of what is a Rooms-to-Go warehouse
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Thunderbolt Raceway (Orange Park)

  • Years of Operation: 1960-early 1970s?

Drag races were held on the northern east-west asphalt runway of Fleming Island Naval Outer Landing Field. This World War II era airfield was located ten miles north of Green Cove Springs on U. S. Highway 17.  Races were first held every Sunday, but later in 1961, changed to the first and third Sunday. The drag races were the brainchild of three men from Green Cove Springs:  Burch Stump, Ben Zeliner, and Ed Taylor.  A towering steel thunderbolt piercing the ground marked the entrance to the track  leading west from U.S. 17 into the woods. Many big-name racers ran at Thunderbolt including Don Garlits, Connie Kalitta, Chris Karamesines, Don Prudhomme, Art Arfons, and Pete Robinson. At one night-time race, Garlits took a wild ride into the brush after blowing his engine at the finish. He skidded on his oil and went backwards through a fence, into a field. The legacy of the old track remains, gracing the names of a recreational soccer park and an elementary school at the old site. Mike McInnis was eleven years old in 1965 when he begged his dad to take him to see his first drag race at Thunderbolt. He had heard an advertisement for an upcoming race on a Jacksonville radio station WAPE, the Big Ape. They were plugging a match race between Eddie Schartman and Shirl Greer. He recalled, "There were no guardrails as I recall, and the main lighting other than a few bare lightbulbs strung between poles in the 'pits' was an old Army surplus searchlight mounted on a trailer and directed down the track behind the starting line. I was in drag race paradise. Along with quite a large crowd, we were standing right at the edge of the designated dragstrip within probably 20 or 30 feet of the cars as they staged and blasted off into nitro nirvana. I have never been the same. The details of other things that happened that night are fuzzy, but I do remember being there. If memory serves me correctly, I think Greer beat Schartman two out of three." Another old timer recalled, "The track was backlit by two big WWII surplus searchlites, that would go from idle to full light when the cars staged. Starting was by a liberated traffic light hanging across the track, no Chrondek type tree." 
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Tyndall Air Force Base

  • Years of Operation: 1956-57

Located twelve miles east of Panama City, Florida, seventy cars raced at the base's first drag race in 1956. Col. Fred Gray, the base commander then, won the event in his 1956 Chevrolet in 15.70 seconds. A second annual event, to be conducted on runway 13, was scheduled for March 31, 1957. 
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Valkaria Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1963-68
 
NHRA-sanctioned drag races were held on the second and fourth Sundays at Valkaria Airfield, located nine miles south of Melbourne. What was called the first annual Melbourne Jaycees Southeast Championships were held on September 22, 1963. They awarded $1,500 in prize money and trophies to all class winners. At a race on July 17, 1964, $5,000 in prize money attracted racers from thirteen states. On September 18, 1966, the second annual Dixie Drag Festival was held at what newspapers called Valkaria Raceway. One of the featured exhibition cars was Walt Stevens driving the Piranha funny car. It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip . Old timers remembered some big-name racers running at Valkaria including Tommy Ivo, Don Garlits, and George Montgomery.
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December 13, 1964. Courtesy of Jerry Patterson
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Valkaria Dragway, in 1965, 1:45 minutes, no sound/music only

Venice Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1958-60
 
The Vagabonds car club conducted drag races on the first Sunday at the old World War II era Army Air Force training field. After the war, the government transferred control to the City of Venice. The races were sanctioned by NHRA. The first drag race on the old air base runway was held on November 23, 1958.
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Zephyrhills Airfield

  • Years of Operation: 1950-52
 
Don Garlits and a few other racers from the Tampa-St. Petersburg area began racing on the old Army Auxiliary Air Strip owned by the city of Zephyrhills in June 1950. There were no timing clocks, just cars racing against each other. In 1952, the Pinellas Timing Association conducted the races every other Sunday. Charlie Hogan in his 1933 Ford and Buster Bryan in his 1932 Ford were the quickest cars on the strip that year. The city of Zephyrhills still operates the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport today, located less than a mile east of the city. The air strip was first opened in 1942 by the U. S. Army Air Force.
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