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Drag Strip List

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia

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De Soto Airport (Mansfield) (1954)
Selman Airfield (Monroe) (1954) 
Hammond Airport (1957)
Pel State Dragway (Opelousas) (1958)
Houma "Drag Strip" (1959)
Louisiana State Fairgrounds (Shreveport) (1959)
Esler Field (Pineville) (1950s)
Pollock Municipal Airport (1950s)
Louisiana Hilltop Raceway (Haughton) (1960)
LaPlace Dragway (1962)
Lake Charles "Drag Strip" (1963)
Crowley Drag Strip (Estherwood) (1964)
Bob Harmon Raceway/Twin City Dragway (Monroe) (1965)
Jonesboro Municipal Airport (1966)
Shreveport Dragway (1966)
Baton Rouge Raceway (1968)
State Capitol Dragway/Baton Rouge Dragway (1969)
Southland Dragway (Houma) (1969)
Haynesville Dragway (1969)
Old Gator Drag Strip (Keithville) (1960s)
Louisiana International Raceway Park (Eunice) (1982)
Lake Charles Dragway (1980s)
Candies & Hughes (far lane) at Southland Dragways in Houma, Louisiana. Photograph by Dave McClelland

Baton Rouge Raceway

  • Years of Operation: 1968
 
It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .  More research is needed.
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Crowley Drag Strip (Estherwood)

  • Years of Operation:  1964-67

Dave Ledford and Edwin W. Edwards filed incorporation papers on March 13, 1964 for Crowley Drag Strip. On May 24, 1964, Buddy Roller drove Melvin Granger's dragster on the quarter-mile track to win top eliminator with a time of 8.96 seconds, winning a pair of trophies and $200. Races were held every fourth Sunday. At a meet on Sunday, March 28, 1965, Albert Waite won top fuel eliminator before over 1,500 people, which was the largest crowd at the strip in 1965. Waite turned 180 MPH in 8.23 seconds. Other fuel dragster drivers who competed included Q-Ball Wale, Pete Mattei, and Dave Ledford. On April 25, 1965, 1,100 spectators watched a field of eleven top fuelers. Pete Mattei of Metairie beat Q-Ball Wale, clocking 8.11 at 186 MPH at the Sunday race. Willis Ragsdale took competition eliminator in his B/A from Pasadena, Texas. The next race at the strip was slated for May 23. It was sanctioned by NHRA in 1967, if not before. Research found no information after 1967, but more research is needed. The specific location of the race track was not mentioned in documentation, but races were undoubtedly held at the Le Gros Memorial Airport, just southwest of Estherwood.
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April 25, 1965
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De Soto Airport (Mansfield)

  • Years of Operation: 1954-62

An NHRA regional championship drag race was held at the airport, built in 1944, three miles northwest of Mansfield on June 27, 1954. (see 1955 Hot Rod Annual, p. 4) A drag race was reportedly held in Mansfield on May 20, 1956. On May 18, 1958, a big race at the airport attracted racers from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. Races were held on a monthly basis in 1958. They were sponsored by the Mansfield Jaycees and conducted by the Shreveport Timing Association. The airport drag races were also sanctioned by NHRA. The Jaycees used profits from the events to buy playground equipment for ever school in De Soto parish and had set up a fund for a school for special needs children in Mansfield. In June 1960 Al Browner set a new track record of 127.86 MPH. The Ark-La-Tex Timing Association conducted races on the third Sunday of each month in  1960.
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Esler Field (Pineville)

  • Years of Operation: 1950s

Max Williamson wrote that the Cenla Gents car club of Alexandria conducted races on a runway of the old World War II era airfield, located between Pineville and Libuse. It is called Alexandria Esler Regional Airport today.
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Hammond Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1957-64

Drag races were held at the Hammond airport as early as 1957. Documentation is sparse. In 1959-61, the Ponchatoula Jaycees sponsored races on the fourth Sunday of each month under NHRA sanction. Research uncovered races being conducted there sponsored by the Jaycee-Hammond Lions Club on June 25, 1961. Marvin Berteau was the track manager for that race. Q-Ball Wale was scheduled to race in his Wale-Candies AA/D. On July 23, 1961, bad weather hampered the racing for Q-Ball, Albert Waits, and several other top-running cars. 
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March 1, 1964

Bob Harmon Raceway/Twin City Dragway (Monroe)

  • Years of Operation: 1965-present

Incorporation papers were filed for Bob Harmon Memorial Raceway by Jean Bayles  on June 10, 1964. Drag races were held on a runway of the Harmon Airport at least as early as 1965, but the dragway was located eight miles south of Monroe off Highway 165 on Prairie Road. On July 16, 1965, "Q-Ball" Wale was killed while driving the Wale & Candies AA/FD. After winning the race, he tried to stop the dragster by braking with his parachute.  It failed to deploy and he raced at high speed to an embankment at the end of the drag strip.  It crashed into a deep ditch.  On Saturday, August 20, 1966, Larry Reyes drove the Cuda "Kingfish" to a strip record for full-bodied cars with a run of 9.15 at 163 MPH. In summer 1975, Harmon Raceway was offered for sale. The newspaper ad stated that it included 99 acres, five staging lanes, paved pit, paved return area, seating for 4,000, a concrete block tower, two concession stands, and ticket booths. On the property was a 5-acre lake, with 60 acres of the property in timber.  One of the last documented races research found when it was called Harmon Raceway was held on September 7, 1975. In 1976, the track opened under new management and a new name: Twin City Dragway. It is now called Twin City Motorsports Park.
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June 19, 1976
March 13, 1966
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Twin City Dragway, 2008, 8:25 minutes
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Haynesville Dragway

  • Years of Operation:  1969-late 1970s?

Drag races were held at the airport one-half mile north of town at least as early as 1969. In 1970, races were held every Sunday starting on February 15, with $2 for admission. Eliminator winners had the option of being awarded cash or a trophy. An ad for racing at the Haynesville Dragstrip in early 1977 stated that it was under new management, implying that races were held before 1977. The first race in the 1977 season was held on March 6. The track booked in a match race between two funny cars on April 24, 1977. It was Frank Cook's '77 Vega against Jack Robbins' '77 Monza.
1969
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1977

Houma "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1959-60

Drag races were conducted by the Houma-Terrebonne Auto Association on the second Sunday. The races were conducted on an abandoned runway of the Houma Airport, an old World War II airfield located three miles southeast of Houma. Read Don Prieto's interesting account of racing at the old Houma strip in Memories (LA) . It is a functioning airport today called the Houma-Terrebonne Airport.
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Jonesboro Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation:  1965-66

The Jonesboro-Hodge Jaycees sponsored the first drag race on the recently-completed municipal airport runway on Sunday, February 14, 1965. They awarde trophies to thirty class winners and three eliminator classes. Over 150 entries were expected to participate. Races were conducted and timed for a quarter mile. On Sunday, May 8, 1966, the Jaycees held the first drag race of the season at the municipal airport south of town. Trophies were awarded to all class and eliminator winners and prize money totalling $180.  The eliminator winners were Charles Robinson, Ed Purt, Durwood Aldy, and Lloyd Brown. The next race was scheduled for May 22. 
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Lake Charles "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation:  1963-64

The Bayou Ramblers Motorcycle Club, organized in 1959, built a half-mile drag strip course as an addition to their oval track on the Swift Packing Plant Road. It was finished and ready for racing by May 1963. Their club racing course was a mile east of State Highway 90.  Demolition of the old Swift meat packing plant began in December 1961. It was being called Lake Charles Dragway in 1964.
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November 12, 1961
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Lake Charles Dragway

  • Years of Operation:  1980s

After Chennault Air Force Base closed in 1963, the airport served a variety of civilian uses and tenants. It was located four miles east of Lake Charles.  At least by the early 1980s, its unused Civil Defense runway was being used for drag racing.  Steven Broussard filed incorporation papers for Lake Charles Dragway on February 4, 1983, but racing may have been held at the old air base before then. Research has not uncovered when racing halted, but improvements in the mid-1980s turning the old base into today's Chennault International Airport may have been a factor in racing's closure. David Miller wrote, "It had a portable tower, portable grandstands, generator power, etc., all in case the military had to use the place again. The owner was a guy named Boyd Gaines.  The Houston cars were regulars at the track.  it was an NHRA sanction. It ran all thru the '80s." (see also Jerry Lee's Memories )
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Lake Charles Dragway, circa early 1980s, 3:28 minutes, no sound
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LaPlace Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1962-80

The track opened on May 1, 1962, north of New Orleans on Highway 61. Built on land owned by the Haydel family, it was operated by Tom and Bertele Lasseigne. Louis Haydel was president of the strip. The track was 60 feet wide by 3,500 feet long, with an asphalt surface on a shell base. They permitted both gas and fuel racing. In April 1963, Connie Swingle drove Paul VanderLey's A/FD to top eliminator honors with an 8.50 ET and 171 MPH. A month later VanderLey upped the track record to 173 MPH. On September 8, 1963, Bob Lace, age 28, from Dallas, was killed in a fatal racing accident during time trials. He was traveling over 100 MPH when his car veered off the race track and rolled over and over. In late September 1963, a divisional NHRA race was staged at LaPlace. An NHRA divisional meet took place on May 7, 1967. On October 20, 1968, Chris Karamesines beat Tommy Ivo in a match race, with a best time of 6.94 seconds and top speed of 221.66 MPH. The track had its largest crowd ever on March 30, 1969, when 8,000 spectators watched David Chenevert of Metairie come out on top over a field of fuel dragsters including then-world champ Bennie Osborn. According to a brief history of the track , they employed a pair of Chevy-engine-powered roller starters, elimiinating the need of push-starting up a fire-up road. Tom Sanford bought the track in the early '70s, but sold it shortly to Norman "Moose" Pearah, the owner from 1974 until the track's final hurrah on March 22-23, 1980. The track hosted the first Cajun Nationals, April 23-25, 1976.
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of LaPlace Dragway on May 2, 1965, 3:54 minutes, no sound
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Don Garlits racing Marvin Schwartz at LaPlace Dragway on January 23, 1972, 1:30 minutes

Louisiana Hilltop Raceway (Haughton)

  • Years of Operation: 1960-65
 
This drag strip, also known as Top O' the Hill, was located near Bossier City.  The drag strip was incorporated in the 2.2 mile road course, but it is not clear if the drag strip was ever operational. More research is needed. There is a campground on part of the race track today.
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Louisiana International Raceway Park (Eunice)

  • Years of Operation: 1982-2006
 
An online source dates this quarter-mile track's opening to 1986, but David Miller, who was a track photographer for awhile, dates its beginnings to 1982 [ read Miller's recollections in Memories (LA) ]. Miller wrote an article about the strip in the Decemeber 1985 issue of Super Stock and Drag Illustrated Magazine. He wrote, "Nestled in the bean fields just west of Opelousas, LA, lays an 83 1/2-acre tract of land that's a major topic in drag racing today. Louisiana International Raceway Park, formerly Acadiana International, is easily one of the most beautiful raceplants in the world. Once a quarterhorse track, it's now a true gemstone of a dragstrip. The main building houses suites, timing tower, covered seating, a patio setting, concessions and offices. A crossover bridge leads to the pits and one big section of grandstands, all on the starting lines. Approximate seating is 8-10 thousand, easy. The pit area features concrete roadways, lakes, and converted stables which are now garages for the first hundred racers who enter the gates. The strip itself is 75 feet wide guardrail to guardrail. It has a 6-inch thick concrete bed under the asphalt, and there's a 180-foot concrete starting pad that is reinforced with steel rods and is over 6 inches thick.."  Louis Doucet filed incorporation papers for Acadiana International Raceway Park on February 3, 1984. The first IHRA Bayou Nationals were held at the strip on April 11-13, 1986. Mark Oswald set a track record and posted the quickest time in the opening round of funny car qualifying in the Candies & Hughes "Old Milwaukee" Pontiac  with a run of 5.775 seconds at 254.23 MPH. Ed McCulloch garnered the second spot. Bruce Allen took the top qualifying spot in Pro Stock. Russell J. Stelly and Harold Dupre filed incorporation papers for Louisiana Raceway Park on February 18, 1988.
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Louisiana State Fairgrounds (Shreveport)

  • Years of Operation: 1959-78
 
In 1959, big-time stock car racing capitalized on the popularity of drag racing. They began holding drag races in conjunction with some of the major stock car races around the country. Drag races were held on the straight-away of the half-mile dirt oval track. Ads stipulated that the racing was for local entries. They didn't want out-of-town fast cars racing on their short strip. Drag races were held on Saturday night April 11, 1959, before the running of the Pelican 300 the next day. The event proved successful, so much so that they ran a 2-night drag race program in conjunction with another big stock car race a month later. On May 10-11, night drag races were run with the Gulf States Championship 200. The old dirt track oval is not at the fairgrounds today.
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April 11, 1959

Old Gator Drag Strip (Keithville)

  • Years of Operation: 1960s

Research has uncovered little about this drag strip. One of the concrete evidences of its existence is its appearance on a 1969 historic aerial photo.  From that photo, it appears to have run n a southwest to northeast direction. An old timer recalled it being one of the drag strips in the Shreveport area.  It is today called Drag Strip Lane. Read Carl Cochran's overview of Old Gator in Memories (Louisiana).
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Old Gator Drag Strip, 1969 historic aerial photograph

Pel State Dragway (Opelousas)

  • Years of Operation: 1958-68

The track opened on May 4, 1958, attracting 427 racers and 2,200 spectators. Races were run on a runway of the airport at Opelousas on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. The races were run by W. H. and Jayne David and members of the Pel State Timing Association. It was also called the Pelican State Automotive Club. In 1959-60, it was sanctioned by NHRA and races were held on the first and third Sundays.  According to a short history , it was a time-consuming process for the operators, who had to set up and take down the equipment before and after each event. Only a temporary wire fence (no guardrails) protecting the spectators from the race strip. 150 cars competed at the race on May 15, 1960. On January 15, 1961, Al Waits turned the fastest time-ever at Pel State with a 168.53 MPH clocking in his A dragster.
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of AA fuelers at Pel State Drag Strip, 1 minute, no sound
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Tire Marks, July 5, 1959 issue, front page of a news sheet published after racing events at Pel State Dragway, by the Pelican State Automotive Club, in Lafayette, Louisiana. See also close-up of back page of this issue in Pel State entry in Memories (Louisiana) section. Courtesy of Max Williamson

Pollock Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1950s

Drag races were conducted by the Cenla Gents car club of Alexandria on a runway of this old World War II airfield located four miles southwest of Pollock. Read Max Williamson's account of those races in Memories (LA) .
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Selman Airfield (Monroe)

  • Years of Operation: 1954, 1956

The Twin City Ramblers held a drag race for about 25 motorcyclists at Selman Field in Monroe, Louisiana, on September 19, 1954. In 1956 the Road Angels car club conducted weekly drag races at the airfield for several weeks, regularly attracting over 1,000 people to their NHRA-sanctioned events. They used the main road which passed through the airfield for racing. But when people who wanted to use that road complained about not having access, races were curtailed in April. City officials of Monroe and West Monroe were sympathetic to the Road Angels and, after a few weeks, permitted racing to continue at the airfield on alternate Sundays until another racing strip could be obtained. Attendance averaged at about 1,000 people at the races.
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Shreveport Dragway

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1967?-1970s?

Shreveport Dragway was sanctioned by NHRA in 1967, if not before. That year it raced on the first, third, and fifth Sundays. Jerry Longoria was the track manager then. "Old Timer," an accomplished researcher of old drag strips, found it listed in the NHRA drag strip guide. That guidebook located the strip five miles south of Shreveport on Highway 171. It can be seen on a northeast-southwest diagonal now called Drag Strip Lane in an area called Staples, east of Highway 171. It was listed as only being 2,000 feet long. leading "Old Timer" to conclude that the track racing distance would have been only a thousand feet or less, possibly only 1/8th-mile. The year of its closing is not known.
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1970

Southland Dragway (Houma)

  • Years of Operation: 1969-77
 
Located on West Park Avenue in the town of Gray, northwest of Houma, the track was built on a former golf course by Luke Grezzafi. In fact, the old golf pro shop became the track's office. It held its opening race on July 1, 1969, with Glenn Menard as its manager. It sported covered grandstands, an octagon-shaped control tower, and scoreboards at the finish line. On Sunday, September 14, 1969, Don Prudhomme beat Arthur Ingleharte of New Orleans in a best-of-three match race. Prudhomme's best run was a 7.06 ET at 207.37 MPH. Ingleharte set a track low ET mark of 6.90 seconds in the second round, the one race when he beat Prudhomme. A $10,000 purse was offered at the first annual Bayou Championships in early November 1969. When Menard left to go to college in 1970, renowned announcer Dave McClelland took over. In 1971, Menard returned to take the reins when McClelland was lured to Dallas International Raceway. On May 22-23, 1971, Southland hosted an NHRA divisional points race, attracting over 400 entries. In early July 1971, a second NHRA divisional points meet was held at Southland after financially-troubled Dallas International Motor Speedway transferred to IHRA, and the points race had to quickly find another home, which Southland was happy to host. This willingness to pitch in when difficulties arose went a long way to NHRA awarding Southland the track of the year honors in the South Central Division in 1971. On Sunday, February 27, 1972, 5000 spectators saw Don Schumacher beat the Ramchargers funny car in a match race with a top speed of 209 MPH. At the NHRA divisional points race on May 27-28, 1972, a dozen national records were set. Leonard Hughes won funny car in the Candies & Hughes "Cajun Cuda" with a final run of 6.74, 221.64 MPH over Grover Rogers. A number of different track operators followed Menard including Ralph Baker (one of the original founders), Norman "Moose" Pearah, and a local bunch headed by Joe Teuton. The latter group installed lights for night racing, but a season of race rain-outs killed the track and forced its closure. Racer Duke McDonald had fond memories of Southland:  "Southland was a West Coast-style track in the South. round 3-story tower and score boards way ahead of its time. I got the honor to race there when Norman owned it. It was very bumpy then, but I loved racing there."
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Southland Dragway, 1969-72, filmed by Rusty Melancon, 39:22 minutes, no sound/music only

State Capitol Dragway/Baton Rouge Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1969-present

W.O. Bergeron, a local pipeline contractor, built this track at a cost of $750,000. Located one mile from Erwinville and ten miles from Baton Rouge on U.S. Highway 190, it was operated by Pel State’s W.H. David and his wife Jayne. Bergeron's daughter was a horse woman and a horse track was adjacent to the quarter mile, complete with starting gate. The grand opening race was held on Saturday, October 11, 1969--the Louisiana State Championship drag race with a $4,000 purse. From the beginning, it was sanctioned by NHRA and equipped for night racing. According to a brief online history , "Ned Betts acquired the track three years later. Norman 'Moose' Pearah promoted there from 1971, then bought the track in 1974 for $110,000, which the owners financed. Pearah was the most famous of the many owners/operators of the facility, staging the NHRA Cajun Nationals there from 1977 to 1990. After the last Cajun National, and a default on loans against the property, NHRA bought the track 'on the courthouse steps' to preserve it as a drag strip, and learned of its many idiosyncrasies, such as no sewer system, a suites building built on top of an interstate gas pipeline (a very big No-No), and the fact that the shut off area was not part of the race track, but rather leased from a neighbor. Allen Miller, Ken and Molly Hall, and others leased or managed the facility before NHRA sold the property." The track currently operates as a quarter-mile track under IHRA sanction. It's website claims that it is the third oldest continuously operating 1/4-mile drag strip in the United States. However,  without even looking hard, I found over a dozen continuously-operating 1/4-mile drag strips that predate State Capitol Dragway. These include tracks like Alaska Raceway Park, Speedworld Raceway Park in Arizona, Redding Dragstrip and Sacramento Raceway Park in California, Bandimere and Julesburg in Colorado, Delmar U.S. 13 in Delaware, Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida, Firebird Raceway in Idaho, Cordova and Byron Dragways in Illinois, Cedar Falls Raceway in Iowa, Kansas International Dragway, Mason-Dixon and Cecil County in Maryland, etc.
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CLICK HERE to see Diamond P TV footage of 1982 Cajun Nationals at State Capitol Raceway, 45:37 minutes