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Drag Strip List

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia

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Half Day Speedway (1952)
Champaign "Drag Strip" (1953)
Lawrenceville Municipal Airport (1954)
Oswego Drag Raceway (1954)
Seneca Dragstrip (1954)
Monroe "Drag Strip" (1955)
Parks Metropolitan Airport (Maplewood) (1955)

Cordova Dragway/Quad City Drags (1956)
Effingham "Drag Strip" (1957)
Greater Peoria Dragstrip/Boondocks Dragway (1957)
Alton Dragway (1958)
Greene County Fairgrounds (Carrollton) (1958)
QUADS/Quincy Urban Area Drag Strip (1958)
Waverly Dragway (1959)
Route 88 Dragway Strip (Sterling) (1960)
Southern Illinois Dragway (Marion) (1960)
International Amphitheatre (Chicago) (1962)
White Hall Drag Strip (1962)
Accelaquarter Raceway (Harrisburg) (1963)
Nashville Dragway (1963)
Tri-City Speedway (Granite City) (1963)
Pleasant Grove Drag Strip/Drag City (Springfield) (1964)
Rockford Dragway/Byron Dragway (1964)
Coles County Dragway (Charleston) (1966)
Fairfield Drag Strip (1966)
Riverview Drag Strip (Hardin) (1966)
Beardstown Drag Strip (1967)
St. Louis International Raceway/Gateway Motorsports Park (East St. Louis) (1967)
Meadowdale International Raceway (Carpentersville) (1968)
Motion Raceway (Assumption) (1970)
Midstate Dragway/Central Illinois Dragway (Havana) (1971)
I-57 Drag Strip (Benton) (1972)
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Boondocks Dragway, 1/8th mile strip near Peoria.  Photographer unknown

Accelaquarter Raceway (Harrisburg)

  • Years of Operation: 1963-85, 2010-present
 
Research wasn't able to uncover the exact date the drag strip opened, but it was prior to September 15, 1963. On that date, Bill "Maverick" Golden was a featured wheelstander at the Sunday race event. At least by 1966, the strip was holding races on every Saturday night. They awarded trophies in all classes and cash awards in four classes. Golden's "Little Red Wagon" wheelstander was a regular performer at the strip. He appeared there in 1963 and every single year between 1969 and 1974. It was called Shawnee Dragway in 1980. It ran on Friday nights that year and was an 1/8th-mile track. Due to increasing insurance rates, the strip had to close in 1985. The track then sat vacant for more than  decade. Then in 2010, Greg Roberts, Gene Church, and the organization Cars for Kids decided to try to revive the strip.  But that organization didn't have the financial backing to accomplish what needed doing to rejuvenate the strip. Frank Sisk bought the strip in 2012. He spent over $1 million to upgrade everything, lengthening and widening the concrete strip to make it safe for 1/8th-mile racing. The brand new track opened in 2013 for an energetic program of racing.
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1969
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Accelaquarter Raceway, 2017, 9:27 minutes

Alton Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1958-72
This celebrated old drag strip was built on Fosterburg Road, one mile north of the Route 140 junction, on the former Stanley Castle Farm. It was an asphalt-surfaced dual lane drag strip with twenty feet of concrete at the starting line. It was a half mile long with a quarter mile for racing--on the short side of safe. The opening had originally been set for July 5-6, but when that was rained out, they scheduled a trial race for July 13 to iron out the bugs before a later grand opening. Almost two thousand people watched that first trial race with 200 entries on hand. Gene Hoekel of St. Louis took top honors with a run of 98.90 MPH. Dust was a problem, but track operators promised to have that remedied for the grand opening. The Road Knights and Headers of Rosewood Heights were on hand to conduct the grand opening race. With more rain on the July 19-20 opener, they finally got in a grand opening race on July 26-27, 1958. The County Auto Parts 1950 Ford Anglia A/A took top eliminator with a run of 111.10 MPH. On June 22, 1959, the Road Knights car club voted to discontinue their affiliation with the drag strip. Newspapers didn't report the reason, but it may have had something to do with their desire to tighten the strip's safety inspections.. Bob Sullivan's Pandemonium fueler and Chris Karamesines tied for the top speed with 173 MPH clockings at the Dragway's 2nd annual Midwest Championships on on October 17-18, 1959.  April 24, 1960, Chris Karamesines was timed at 204 MPH, a run that was purportedly the first over 200 MPH, but which stills stirs controversy today. That didn't deter Alton Dragway from claiming to be the "World's fastest drag strip" in its ads. It's claims to being the fastest weren't hurt when in September 1961, Walt Arfons  sped 230.170 MPH in his "Green Monster 16" jet car, a world record. In May 1962, Wayne Brown filed a $10,000 lawsuit against the drag strip for injuries sustained two years before when a dragster veered off the track into the pit area. He claimed that Harry Nordquist was forced to drive into the pits because crowds, due to the negligence of the race track, were in the drag strip track area. The drag strip today serves as the entrance road (Wonderland Drive) to a trailer park. The center median of the track still is there. 
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CLICK HERE to see location on a map
CLICK HERE to listen to old radio promotional spot ad for Alton Dragway, pan to 10:10 minute mark to hear it
1960
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Chris Karamesines' "204 MPH" run at Alton on April 24, 1960, , 22 seconds, no sound
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage taken at Alton in 1962, 4 minutes, music

Beardstown Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation:  1967-1979 or early 1980s
 
Located southeast of Beardstown, this strip was situated in a rural area. As one old timer said, it "was in a farmer's back ;yard."  Although one online source dates its beginning to the 1950s, research points to 1967 being the year the strip first opened. News reports of the opening day race being held on May 14, 1967 (see advertisement). It referred to it as the "Seward Drag strip on the Arenzville road." Larry "Pooch" Steward was the owner of the strip. Two thousand people showed up for the opener. Cars were parked on each side of the entrance on Arenzville Road for more than a mile. Admission was $1.50 per person. The races the following week attracted an even larger crowd the next week. Top fuel and funny car diver Tommy Johnson, Jr.'s first drag race memories of going with his parents to a drag strip date to Beardstown. "As a kid growing up I would spend every weekend at the drag strip with my parents," Tommy said. "My first memories that I can recall are of going to a drag strip in Beardstown, Illinois. I can remember the sandy pit area with a couple grain silos that we pitted by. I can remember my dad letting me sit in his car in the pits while I pretended that I was racing. I couldn't have been much older than two or three at the time. I remember one instance where I was playing in my dad's car between rounds and I was told not to break anything. I ended up breaking my dad's line lock button off the shifter. I felt so bad that I had screwed something up and was scared that he wouldn't let me play in the car anymore. I don't remember what the outcome of the broken line lock was, but to this day I have a phobia about someone sitting in my car. I am so afraid they are going to break something." On October 22, 1967, Fred Gibb and Herb Fox set a new AHRA national record with their "Little Hoss" FS/X Camaro at Beardstown. The track hosted an AHRA Grand American points race on August 4, 1968. Kenny Dobson was the track manager in the late 1960s through 1972. He bought and operated the track in 1972, running under AHRA sanction. The track probably closed in the late 1970s or early 1980s, according to DSL reader Dale Hilgenbrinck, who raced there (see Memories--Illinois ).
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May 14, 1967
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Beardstown Dragstrip, 44 seconds, no sound
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1972
June 4, 1972

Champaign "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: ca. 1953
 
Champaign had a successful drag strip race program supported by the police for the benefit of a local car club at a nearby airfield at least by 1953. Members of the Mattoon Blockbusters Car Club raced there and at a drag strip in St. Charles, Missouri. More research is needed.
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Coles County Dragway (Charleston)

  • Years of Operation: 1966-present
 
This 1/8th-mile strip was located seven miles east of Mattoon on Route 316. Its first race was held on Saturday, August 13, 1966. It was lit for night racing, but wasn't adequate so they added more for the race on August 20. One of the owners was Bill Fuqua. The race on August 27 drew over 2,000 spectators to watch 181 entries compete. The additional lights were too much for the transformer which blew in the middle of the races. A larger transformer was installed for the race on September 3. The popularity of the track necessitated adding more bleacher seating during its first few weeks of operation. The Saturday night racing was only held during the summer. In spring and fall, races were held on Sunday afternoons. In the final race for top eliminator on April 21, 1968, Don Pennington's AA/FD faced Jim Simpson's A/FD. The chute on Pennington's dragster failed to deploy and he went for a ride off the end of the track. On August 7,  1971, a match race between the fuel altereds of Wild Willie Borsch and Leon Fitzgerald were featured. It operates today as a 1/8th-mile NHRA-sanctioned track.
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September 3, 1967
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Coles County Dragway, 1989, 3:58 minutes

Cordova Dragway/Quad City Drags

  • Years of Operation: 1956-present
 
Sixty thousand dollars was spent to build a 4,000-foot long asphalt drag strip just north of the Mississippi River town of Cordova. It was given the name Quad City Drags because of its proximity to the metropolitan area in northwest Illinois and southeastern Iowa. The principal cities in that region are Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in Illinois. It opened with a two-day meet on September 2-3, 1956. Thereafter racing events were held every Sunday. The track record prior to August 1957 was 152.54 MPH set by Warren Poole of Muscatine, Iowa. Cordova hosted ATAA's fourth annual World Series of Drag Racing on August 21-25, 1957. At that event, Red Greth from Tucson, set a world record for competition roadsters with a 160.71 MPH clocking in 9.77 seconds. Emory Cook, the world record holder, won top eliminator and set a track record at the meet with a 163.63 MPH run. The racing drew more than 20,000 spectators and 400 entries. For the second year, Cordova hosted the World Series of Drag Racing on August 20-24, 1958. John Bradley of San Bernardino set a world mark in his Mercury flathead B dragster of 151.26 MPH. On August 26-30, 1959, the ATAA's World Series of Drag Racing was held for the third time at Quad City. A record-breaking crowd of 15,000 fans attended the final day of the World Series race on August 26, 1962. On July 27, 1963, almost 5,000 spectators watched Art Arfons make three runs over 211 MPH in his jet dragster. The 12th annual World Series of Drag Racing was held on August 26-29, 1965, with a $15,000 cash purse.
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September 15, 1957
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Cordova Dragway, 1966 World Series of Drag Racing, 4 minutes, no sound

Effingham "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1957
 
A drag race was reportedly conducted in Effingham on March 31, 1957. It was likely held at the Effingham County Airport, south of town, but more research is needed.
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Fairfield Drag Strip

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  • Years of Operation: 1966-73
 
This drag strip, located 2.5 miles south of Fairfield on Route 45, opened at least by 1966, if not before. They generally raced on Friday nights during the summer and on Sunday afternoons during the cooler months in spring and fall. The strip hosted an AHRA Grand American divisional points race on June 2, 1968. On occasion, the track featured match races. For instance, on May 17, 1970, the "Hustling Hillbilly" Chevy II from Mayfield, Kentucky faced Rich Thomas in his Cuda from St. Louis in a 3-out-of-5 race.
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1972
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Fairfield Drag Strip, 1973 topo map
Fairfield Drag Strip, 1970 aerial view

Greater Peoria Dragstrip/Boondocks Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1957-mid 1970s
 
This strip opened in 1957 as Greater Peoria Dragstrip. It was a dirt strip built and operated by the Heart of Illinois Hot Rod Club. In 1958 the strip was paved, and in 1969, the 1/8th-mile strip was widened. It had 550 feet of paved shutdown area, plus an additional 1,500 feet of leveled dirt shutdown beyond that. One old timer who raced there in the 1960s recalled the shutdown area vividly: " Down hill grade with only about 2-300 feet of asphalt, then dirt and steeper down grade. At the end of the 1/8 mile+ shut off, the road turned hard right. Miss the turn and kiss your ass goodby, deep ditch and incline on the other side. They changed all that after a few years because of several hard crashes." He gave directions about how to get to the strip in the 1960s: " The original entrance was off SR-116, 1 mile west of SR-8 junction. Turn south for two miles. Turn right and go about half to 3/4 mile. Strip was on the left about 1/8 mile maybe less." The owners of the strip in 1971 were Bill Knus, Bud Christner, and Carl Hand. The name was changed to Boondocks Dragway in 1972. 
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Greater Peoria Dragstrip, circa 1960s, 1:58 minutes, no sound
Greater Peoria Drag Strip, 1979 topo map

Greene County Fairgrounds (Carrollton)

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  • Years of Operation: 1958, 1961-63
 
The Greene County Fair Association sponsored drag races every two weeks during the summer of 1958 on the dirt-surfaced horse race track at the fairgrounds in Carrollton. They held races on Wednesday evenings. Eight trophies were awarded at each race. Tuesday night drag racing started on August 1, 1961, sponsored by the Conquistadores of Greene County. In 1962, three Tuesday night drag races in July, August, and September were sponsored by the Carrollton Jaycees. A drag strip was built in White Hall, so racing moved to that location (see below). But the Carrollton Jaycees decided to continue the races at the fairgrounds in 1963.
September 29, 1961
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Half Day Speedway

  • Years of Operation: 1952-53
 
A half-mile long drag strip was located on an abandoned airstrip forty miles north of Chicago. It was the brainchild of Andy Granatelli. It had been an outlying satellite airfield used by nearby Glenview Naval Air Station during World War II. It was called Allendale Field or Libertyville Airport. The Automobile Timing Association of America (ATAA) first conducted drag races in summer 1952. Their expenses were underwritten by Arnold Maremont, a Chicago manufacturer. The ATAA rented out timing equipment to other drag strips. The ATAA made efforts in 1954 to become a national sanctioning organization, similar in some ways to the NHRA. See articles in Hot Rod Magazine (Aug. 1952), 54, 63 and (July 1953), 24-25, 81. Read Jim Verden's recollections of racing at Half Day Speedway in 1952 and 1953 .
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Half Day Speedway in 1952, 1:45 minutes, music [Note: Jim Verden's supercharged Caddy-powered rail is seen at the 17 thru 32-second mark of the video]
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1953 topo map designated this as Maremont Speedway

I-57 Drag Strip (Benton)

  • Years of Operation:   1972-after 1977, ca. 2008-present
 
Dr. Roice A. McElwee of West Frankfort, the original owner, built this drag strip in 1972. Located on the west side of Interstate 57 mid-way between Benton and West Frankfort, it was 3/8ths of a mile long, built for timed 1/8th-mile racing. The first drag race was held on August 6, 1972. Lights were installed, at least before 1975, to permit night racing. Grudge racing took place on Friday night and the regular races on Saturday night.  It closed for a number of years, but re-opened about 2008 and now operates as a 1/8th-mile track. More research is needed to determine the track's early years of operation.
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August 6, 1972
CLICK HERE to see wheelstanding 1970 GTO at I-57 Dragstrip in 2008, 40 seconds

International Amphitheatre (Chicago)

  • Years of Operation: 1962-64
 
Chicago Auto Racing, Inc. conducted the first indoor drag races ever held anywhere. On December 30, 1962, drag races were held inside Chicago's International Amphitheatre, located at 42nd and Halsted Street on the south side. 5,500 spectators watched 160 cars make 2,248 runs. Jack Sharkey of Matteson set the top speed of 70 MPH in his '63 Plymouth. The amphitheatre was located next to the Union Stock Yards, and had been built in 1934 principally to host livestock exhibitions. But before it was demolished in 1999, it hosted a myriad of events including several Republican and Democratic national conventions, rock concerts, and professional sporting events. Hatched by promoter Bill Schade, a special drag strip was built in two large halls south of the arena. Steel guard rails were installed on each side of the sixty foot wide racing strip. The slippery concrete slab track was 440 feet long, with a 660 foot long shut-down area. They awarded trophies in 38 classes. According to an illustrated interesting brief history , Richard Myracle from Melrose Park hit the top ET with 5.68 seconds in his '62 Plymouth.  On two Sundays, January 20 and 27, 1963, the indoor race event was repeated, due to what newspapers wrote was "popular demand."  The track record was established--81.818 MPH. The doors at the south end of the track were both widened to eighteen feet to allow for greater speeds and safety. Factory experimental cars were in attendance.  Races were also held on March 17 and the winter season's final on March 31. The indoor drag racing returned again the following winter with five racing dates in 1963-64. Among the racers were Mr. Norm's Dodge and Arnie Beswick. The 1965 season was cancelled when the fire department ruled that the large number of cars inside the building with gasoline in their tanks was a safety concern. Thus ended one of the more unusual events in drag racing history.
 
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December 30, 1962
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1963

Lawrenceville Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1954-56, 1958
 
Arnold Maremont, the Chicago manufacturer who helped bankroll the drag strip at Half Day, north of Chicago, in 1952, promoted a two-day drag race called the World Series of Drag Racing.  Held on October 1-2, 1954, it was sponsored by the Automobile Timing Association of America.  The Lawrenceville Airport had a concrete surface.  The race attracted 350 competitors and thousands of spectators. The drag race received wide-spread newspaper coverage. Art Arfons, 24-year-old racer from Dayton, Ohio, took top honors with his 4,000-pound Green Monster. Having six wheels and an aircraft engine, he was clocked at 132.35 miles per hour to claim the Maremont Speed Trophy and a $1000 scholarship.  Holly Hedrick, a 24-year-old sailor from Memphis, had a 1000-pound fiberglass car (the lightest at the event) and took second place.  Joaquin Arnett, driving the Bean Bandits car from San Diego, was third. George Smith, of Chicago, had the fastest motorcycle, clocking 115.38 miles per hour. The second World Series of Drag Racing event was held on August 17-21, 1955. On that year, they held the race on one of the airport's main runways which was 5,200 feet long. On August 20, 1955, Lloyd Scott set the world record at Lawrenceville in his "Bustle Bomb" two-engined 700 horsepower dragster with a 151.007 mph run. There was also a regular drag race held at the airport on May 15, 1955. The third annual World Series of Drag Racing event ran four days from August 21-22, 25-26. Instead of a quarter-mile event, its half-mile timed runs were done on a mile-long runway. They awarded trophies in 29 classes, separating those running on gas from those running on racing fuels. Art Arfons, a chicken feed salesman from Akron, won the top speed award with his Allison-powered Green Monster, setting a track record with 152.452 MPH.
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August 18-21, 1955
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage taken by Bob Jackson of drag races at Lawrenceville in June 1955, 3 minutes, no sound 
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of ATAA World Series of Drag Racing at Lawrenceville in June 1955, 7:47 minutes, no sound 

Meadowdale International Raceway (Carpentersville)

  • Years of Operation: 1968
 
In 1958, a developer built a 3.27-mile road-racing course in the Chicago suburb of Carpentersville. In only a single year--1968--a few drag races were held on the 3/4-mile straightaway.  Ålthough the track obtained an NHRA sanction for the 1969 season, the race track closed for good in 1968.
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Midstate Dragway/Central Illinois Dragway (Havana)

  • Years of Operation: 1971-present
 
A clip of 8mm film footage dates racing to 1971. Newspaper research found reference to the dragway being open for racing every Sunday beginning in March 1972. The ad attested that the track had the "top cars" and "top payout." In 1977 and 1978, the strip was being offered for sale or lease in newspaper ads. In 2011, the name of the 1/8th-mile strip  was changed to Central Illinois Dragway. It has also gone by the name Mason County Raceway.
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May 6-7, 1972
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Midstate Dragway, 1971, 5:12 minutes, no sound 

Monroe "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1955
 
The Green County Sheriff's Department sponsored a series of drag races on a closed-off section of old Highway 11. More research is needed.
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Motion Raceway (Assumption)

  • Years of Operation: 1971-83
 
John Jones built, owned, and operated this drag strip from the beginnng. It was located three miles north of Assumption and a mile west of U. S. Route 51. Jones built it on his farm. When first built, it was very informal. Jones simply had a coin-operated gate so those who wanted to race could do so at their convenience. But after visiting a few other organized strips, Jones decided to build a full-fledged race track. The construction was finished in late 1970 and held its first race in 1971. It was originally a quarter-mile strip, but racing was shortened to 1,000 feet when its 3,000 foot length proved too short for the faster cars to stop safely. During its history, both NHRA and IHRA sanctioned the track at different times. R. L. Steel raced his 1955 Chevy at Assumption. "Best hooking track I ever saw," Steel said, "first time I saw the '55 on the back bumper for two gears." Big-name racers appeared here including Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, Bob Glidden, Shirley Muldowney, and  many others. Various reasons and rumors have been offered to why it closed, but for years it has been used by farmers for grain storage. It operated with a limited grudge racing schedule in 2008 on a temporary basis.
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Motion Raceway, 1970s, Larry Bullock collection, 6:51minutes, music only/no sound
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Motion Raceway, early 1980s, Bob Gibson collection, 14:07 minutes
Motion Raceway, ​ 1983 topo map

Nashville Dragway

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  • Years of Operation: 1963-ca. 1968
 
Located 1.5 miles east of Nashville, it held its first race on September 22, 1963. Wayne "Tiny" Meinert was the owner. Newspaper ads claimed it was the world's first NHRA-sanctioned 1/8th-mile strip. They offered racing in seventy classes. It may have later been called Rainbow Raceway, as there was a Rainbow gas station nearby. On Saturday night, August 1, 1964, a circus animal act performed on the strip before eliminations. The Kasten family from Germany, who were performing with the Shrine Circus, brought their managerie of trained apes, orangutan, gorilla, leopard, and jaguar. They performed without a cage.  It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .  Research has uncovered very little about this drag strip.
 
 
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September 22, 1963

Oswego Drag Raceway

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  • Years of Operation: 1954-79
 
The drag strip was built on the Wally Smith farm, one mile west of the Oswego Bridge, on Highway 34. It started out as just a dirt drag strip, but was paved by at least 1956. NHRA selected Oswego to hold a midwestern regional championship drag race event on September 29-30, 1956. The race drew 10,000 spectators. Robert Doss managed the track in 1972. Racing drew as many as 400 entries on Sundays during March through early November in 1971. The track was one of eight race tracks owned by National Drag Racing Enterprises. In late 1976, the raceway was bought by Dr. Howard Koch. The race track land was bought by a nursing home, after which drag racing ended at Oswego after a quarter-century of operation.
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Oswego in 1963, 3 minutes, music only/no sound

Parks Metropolitan Airport (Cahokia)

  • Years of Operation: 1955-ca. 1968
 
The Belleville Gear Jammers sponsored the first NHRA race at Parks Airport on September 4, 1955. Another big drag race was held on September 18, 1955, that drew 350 entries and 3,600 spectators. News reports gave the race location as Parks Air College near Belleville, Illinois. But an illustrated article in the January 1959 issue of Hot Rod stated that racing was held on the north-south runway of Parks Airport (today called St. Louis Downtown-Parks Airport). Parks Air College, based in East St. Louis, Illinois, contracted to use the airport (on the eastern outskirts of Cahokia) for flight training. They held a race on May 27, 1956, awarding trophies in all classes. For that race, they charged $1.50 for racers and 50 cents for spectator admission. Regular races were scheduled for the second and fourth Sundays in 1956. Racing continued until at least 1966, or possiblyl, 1968.
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June 10, 1956

Pleasant Grove Drag Strip/Drag City ​(Springfield)

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1964-ca. 1973
 
This paved 1/8th-mile drag strip was first called Pleasant Grove Drag Strip, owned by Carroll Eugene Heissinger. Heissinger changed its name to Drag City by at least 1966. It was located four miles east of Springfield, or two miles west of Rochester on Route 29. Drag City is purportedly the track where the Chi-Town Hustler first did its long smoky burnouts, starting a trend in funny car racing.  An AHRA divisional points meet was held there on July 6-7, 1968.
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Pleasant Grove Drag Strip, ​ 1966 topo map
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Drag City in the 1960s, 2:08 minutes, no sound
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Drag City in the 1970s, 1:10 minutes, no sound/music only

QUADS/Quincy Urban Area Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1958
 
A quarter-mile dirt drag strip was started on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River just north of Quincy. Stan Lomelino won a couple of top eliminator titles at races held there. Read Jim Baker's interesting recollections of racing at this strip in 1958 in Memories (Illinois).
CLICK HERE to see location on a map
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Riverview Drag Strip (Hardin)

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  • Years of Operation: 1966-67
 
Research found little information about this short-lived dirt strip until the son of one of the owners, Michael McGowen, contacted Drag Strip List. It opened for racing on April 17, 1966. McGowen wrote:  "The dragstrip was on Poor Farm Hollow Road, and was across the road from the east parking lot entrance to Calhoun Middle School, which was built within the last ten years. The dragstrip was on the south side of Poor Farm Hollow Road."    Read Michael McGowen's remarks in Memories (Illinois).
April 17., 1966
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Rockford Dragway/Byron Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1964-present
 
Bob Metzler and Dick Paul, owners of Great Lakes Dragaway, and Don Love of Rockford, built this drag strip in 1964 at a cost of $250,000. In planning for three years, it was an asphalt-concrete surfaced track, 100 feet wide and a mile long. Located a mile south of Byron (and 15 miles southwest of Rockford) on Rock River Terrace Road, construction delayed its opening. It was reported to be the "widest, longest, and flatest custom built dragstrip in the nation." From the beginning, it was built to run four drag lanes side-by-side. The first race was held Sunday, July 12, 1964.  Chuck Hepler took top fuel eliminator in his "Fugitive" dragster with a 195.65 MPH run. Dave Powers of Dubuque, Iowa, won top gas eliminator with a 161.43 MPH posting.
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1964
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Byron Dragway, in 1970s, 5 minutes, no sound

Route 88 Dragway Strip (Sterling)

  • Years of Operation: 1960-61
 
Located eight miles south of Sterling, this drag strip opened for business on May 1, 1960. It was originally a private airport for the Rynell Corporation. It was 2,600 feet long and 60 feet wide. It paralleled Route 88 (which is today's Illinois Route 40, south of Route 172), thus its name. NHRA sanctioned its 1/8th-mile racing. About fifty cars competed in the opening race with Gene Behrens of Lanark taking top eliminator. Jim Wadsworth managed the race operation. On August 20, 1960, Rod Stuckey from Kansas City turned more than 140 MPH in 6.41 seconds. The race track was fully lighted and operated on a Saturday night racing schedule. Stuckey came close to beating the track record that had been set by Jimmy Russell. Russell, from Hammond, Indiana, turned 144 MPH in 6.68 seconds in his A/FD on July 3. On September 10-11, 1960, the track put on what was called the National 1/8th Mile Drag Racing Championships. Over $1,000 in prize money was offered attracting such racers as Joe Bush, Lyle Fisher, and Arnie Beswick (or at least that is who news reports said would be there). In 1961, racing was conducted by the Rock River Stockers Club. Research was unable to uncover any information about racing after 1961.
 
 
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May 1, 1960
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St. Louis International Raceway/Gateway Motorsports Park (East St. Louis)

  • Years of Operation:  1967-present
 
One of the first races held on the 1/8th-mile drag strip that was built on the site of what is now Gateway Motorsports Park was the AHRA 1/8th Mile Spring Nationals. That race was held on June 17, 1967. In that inaugural season, they held grudge races every Wednesday night and regular programs every Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.  It was called St. Louis Raceway Park (or "The Swamp") in the beginning, running in a north-south direction. On Saturday night, July 15, 1967, they held a four-way match race with some big-name A/GS cars:  Stone-Woods-Cook, George Montgomery, John Mazmanian, and K. S. Pittman. On April 7, 1968, John Buttera hit some sand at almost 200 MPH on the track, and rolled his new dragster over five times, totalling the car. He escaped with a broken arm, cuts, and bruises. The track hosted an AHRA Grand American points race on May 4-5, 1968. In May 1969, Bob Murray of St. Louis set a 1/8th-mile national record for AA/FD, clocking 4.6 seconds at 181.40 MPH. That short strip  was lengthened in 1970 (and renamed St. Louis International Raceway) in order to host the 3-day AHRA Gateway Nationals on July 30, 31, and August 1, 1971. Steve Carbone took top fuel eliminator at that meet with a 6.55 time at 225 MPH, beating Dale Funk. Tom Hoover won funny car and Tom Haller took pro stock. Seating capacity was increased to 25,000 for the second annual Gateway Nationals on August 4-6, 1972. Wayne and Ruth Meinert, former owners of Nashville Dragway, operated the track beginning in 1974. On August 4, 1974 at an AHRA Grand American race, two spectators were killed and thirty others injured when Bill Bagshaw's engine blew near the finish line and he spun out of control in his oil and flipped over the guardrail into the bleachers. The race track underwent a multi-millon dollar expansion in 1996. The drag strip was moved southwest of the old quarter-mile strip, and the large NASCAR oval track was built over the location of the old strip.
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1967
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Seneca Dragstrip

  • Years of Operation: 1954-57
 
One of the more unique drag strips, the Illinois Valley Idlers car club sponsored 1/8th-mile drag races on the paved streets of a surplused World War II shipyard housing development. Most of the houses were demolished, but they raced on an abandoned concrete street that was bordered by curbs and sidewalks. They ran a short season in 1954, full seasons in 1955 and 1956, but with the opening of the nearby Oswego Drag Strip, they just ran a few races in 1957 and then shut down. It was a popular place for spectators and races routinely drew more than 150 cars.
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Southern Illinois Dragway (Marion)

  • Years of Operation: 1960-71
 
Jim Willhite and Jim Cox spent $18,000 to open a new 1/8th-mile drag strip 3.5 miles west of Marion (south of Herrin). Located near the intersection of Route 13 and Route 148, it was a 32-foot wide by 1,000-foot long asphalt strip. The strip was described as being near, but not at, the Williamson County Airport. The owners paid to lay down the blacktop, so it was not on any existing paved ground (like an airport). The strip opened on June 19, 1960, with Bob Grubb of Cisne copping the first top eliminator trophy in his 1934 Chevy coupe. On occasion the strip would feature match racers or other exhibition-type cars. In 1963, they held drag races every Saturday night. On September 7, 1963, Floyd Chitty of Marion won top eliminator in his A Gas 1936 Pontiac coupe, with a run of 93.724 MPH. A race was held there on Saturday, May 2, 1964. Research in newspapers uncovered only sketchy information about drag racing south of Herrin in the mid-to-late 1960s. A newspaper (Carbondale Southern Illinoisian, Apr. 21, 1967) reported charges that were brought against Jim Poe for assault and disorderly conduct "at a drag strip south of Herrin" on Saturday, April 15, 1967. In 1970, the track was very briefly sanctioned by AHRA, but opted out by May and returned to using NHRA rules. Research couldn't find any information after 1971.
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August 1960
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October 4, 1969

Tri-City Speedway (Granite City)

  • Years of Operation: 1963-64
 
This half-mile dirt oval track began running 1/8th-mile drag races on Thursday night in about late August 1963. It was located four miles north of Granite City near  Illinois Route 203. In 1964, they held drag races every Wednesday night.
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1963

Waverly Dragway

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  • Years of Operation: 1959
 
The Waverly Stockers started staging drag races on a dirt drag strip that was simply an extension of South Curtiss Street. It was just outside the southeast city limits of Waverly. The first race was held on August 23, 1959. Kenny Miller of Auburn won the top eliminator trophy at that race in his '59 Chevy. Weekly Sunday races were held that year at least through early November.
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1959

White Hall Drag Strip

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  • Years of Operation: 1962-63, 1964-67, 1968-75
 
The Conquistadores car club  of Greene County had sponsored drag races on the horse race track at the Greene County Fairgrounds for a couple of years (see above). But that track was really short, so they cast about for another option.  In 1962, they cleared and leveled a hilltop field at the Hawk farm  just northwest of White Hall on the east side of Route 106 (Winchester Road). They hauled in truck-loads of clay to help make a hard-packed racing surface.  The track drew well for its Sunday afternoon and Tuesday night races. Newspaper ads mentioned that there would be a Super Stock invitational drag race held on September 9, 1962. This might have been one of the first races at this track. The night races started in 1963 on Tuesday, May 28. One of the featured racers at the track was Stan Lomolino of Virden, whose flathead-engined dragster had been clocked in excess of 140 MPH at other strips. According to one source , the 1/8th-mile race track was moved in 1964 to a place at the north edge of White Hall next to Illinois Route 267--and northeast of the first location. On July 27, 1965, the track featured a match race between two racers from Virden: Stan Lomolino and Jody Hendricks. Paul Fansler was the strip manager. On Tuesday, May 10, 1966, Dickie Harrell ("Mr. Chevrolet") made three exhibition runs on the clay track in his 1966 Chevry 2 funny car. The Tuesday night races generally drew about 70-80 racers regularly. In early 1968, the club decided to make another move. They spent most of 1968 doing the heavy work to prepare the site for an asphalt track. The location of this third track was southeast of White Hall. The track was ready to open in late 1968, called White Hall Drag-O-Way. Competition with nearby strips and rising expenses (especially insurance) were the reasons the track had to close in 1975. A few others tried to resurrect the track, but were unable to make a go of it. By 1980, the track lay vacant for good. 
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June 7, 1966
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April 27, 1969
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