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Drag Strip List

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia

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MISSISSIPPI

Williams Airport (Jackson) (1955)
Keesler Air Force Base (1956)
Gulf Coast Drag Strip/Biloxi Dragway (1957)
Pascagoula "Drag Strip" (1957)
Greenville Air Force Base Auxiliary Air Field (Indianola) (1958)
Joy Drive-in Theater (Greenville) (1961)
Collierville Drag Strip (1963)
Hub City Drag Raceway/Drag Way (Hattiesburg) (1964)
Greenville Drag Strip/Raceway Park (1965)
Columbus Drag Strip (1968)
Nettleton "Drag Strip" (1968)
Magnolia Dragway/Deep South Dragway/Gulfport Dragway (1972)
Riverside Dragway (Pearl) (1972)
 
 
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Herman Moore  in “The Conqueror” S/S Plymouth (near) is going up against Sidney Foster in the Foster Motor Company AWB Thunderbolt at Biloxi Dragway. Photographer unknown
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Collierville Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1963-64
 
This track possibly opened on Friday, May 31, 1963. Although it is named for the nearby town in Tennessee to the northwest, it is actually about a mile into Tennessee on U.S. Highway 72. On November 22, 1964, a match race between Joe Lunati and Jerry Inman in his '40 Willys was featured.  It was a quarter-mile asphalt track that is now just a decrepit road in a junk yard . The layout of the old drag strip is seen on a 1969 historic aerial photo .
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CLICK HERE to see location on a map
1963

Columbus Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1968-2012
 
 It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .  On January 10, 1969, John Foreman, age 17, of West Point, was a flagman at a drag strip in or near Columbus. He was killed when he was struck by an oncoming race car. Research has been unable to find any more information about this drag strip. Little information has been found about this strip except for recent YouTube videos, the last of which dates to 2012. It is presumed that racing no longer takes place at this strip, but that hasn't been confirmed.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Columbus Drag Strip, 2010, 1:13 minutes, filmed by Demart Jones
CLICK HERE to see location on a map

Greenville Air Force Base Auxiliary Air Field (Indianola)

  • Years of Operation: 1958-60
 
The Delta Angels Safety Club was organized by the Air Force Base airmen. They held drag races on the auxiliary airstrip at Indianola every Sunday, the first race being held on March 9, 1958. On July 20, 1958, they staged a race at the air field between Leland and Indianola. Beginning April 5, 1959, the Delta Angels conducted races twice monthly for that season--on the first and third Sundays. They were able to do this because the airfield was not used by the military on Sundays. The October 4, 1959 race was sanctioned by NHRA. The first race in 1960 was held on April 3.
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CLICK HERE to see location on a map

Greenville Drag Strip/Raceway Park

  • Years of Operation: 1965-present?
 
The Delta Angels switched racing locations from the auxiliary airstrip at Indianola to the 4,000-foot asphalt former Runway 4 of the Greenville Municipal Airport, located southeast of Greenville. That airport dated back to the WWII era, but reverted to civilian use after the war. It stopped being used as an airport between 1962 and 1967. In early 1965 (and probably a year or two before), the Delta Angels were racing on a narrow access road at the Greenville Industrial Fill. In February 1965, the Delta Angels requested permission from the city council to have a sanctioned drag strip at the Municipal Airport. The 1965 industrial racing site was deemed unsafe by news reporter John Childs. He said there was less than one foot between the spectators and the strip and "in some cases the spectators were wandering into the raceway." (Greenville Delta Democrat Times, Feb. 1, 1965)  Discussion among members of the city council was favorable, believing that a sanctioned drag race operation at the airport, if sanctioned, would be better supervised and safer.  The first race at the airport was held on August 1, 1965. On Sunday, March 20, 1966, 1203 spectators watched 73 entries compete for trophies. Buster Couch, from NHRA, was in attendance and made suggestions for improving safety. On August 7, 1966, before 3,000 spectators at the NHRA-sanctioned meet, John Hughes of Atlanta set a new strip record in his fuel dragster with a run of 202.70 MPH in 7.81 seconds. Today the site of the airport serves as a recreation complex with baseball fields, livestock pens, and the drag strip.  Incorporation papers were filed for Greenville Drag Strip on March 30, 1967, by John F. Rose, Leroy Black, and Sterling Long, but that seems to have been a formality as racing started back in 1965. In 1971, the Washington County board of supervisors approved the lease of the old airport to A. D. Felts and George Baroni, operators of the strip that year. Vic Fava was the owner/promoter in 1973.
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August 1, 1965
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September 18, 1966
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Greenville Raceway Park, 2009, 6 minutes, no sound

Gulf Coast Drag Strip/Biloxi Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1957-67

This drag strip was built by a group of local Biloxi businessmen and women. It was located five miles north of Biloxi on Highway 55 and its intersection with Krohn Road. The strip was 3,375 feet long and 40 feet wide. On either side of the pavement was a space of 115 feet to a 3-foot embankment. The Gulf Coast Timing Association conducted the races. Small races were held while the strip was still under construction. On May 11, 1957, they held a charity race to benefit the Red Cross. They had a Labor Day weekend race one week prior to the grand opening, which took place on September 8. J. D. Gagliano of New Orleans took top eliminator at the opener when he ran 111.11 MPH and 14.05 ET in his Chev-powered 1934 Ford. Admission was 99 cents for adults and 55 cents for children under the age of 12. At the Mississippi Open race on December 1, 1957, 190 racers from Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, and California took part in the action. Albert Waits from New Orleans set the track record on his motorcycle with a clocking of 113.222 MPH and 11.47 ET. The racing was watched by 1,500 people. At the Automobile Timing Association of America regional championships on February 23, 1958, Albert Waits set a new track record of 115.384 MPH in 11.73 seconds on his fuel bike. 1,094 spectators watched racers from five states. The Keesler Coasters Club officiated at the meet. On August 31, 1958, C. J. Kearney set a new track record of 122.016 MPH in his Olds-powered A/MR. On July 5, 1959, Si Burgess set a new track elapsed time record with a run of 11.104 and 129.35 MPH in his Chevy-powered dragster. Albert Waits of New Orleans set a new national record on May 1, 1960 in C dragster with his injected Chevy dragster of 10.39 seconds at 140.624 MPH. Al Waits set a new ET strip record on November 20, 1960, with a time of 9.48 seconds. However the speed record set by Q-Ball Wales's speed record of 165.66 MPH still held. On January 8, 1961, Chris Karamesines clocked 175.79 MPH on his best-of-three runs. On May 13, 1963, Charles Sitton from Houston, driving Paul Vanderley's fuel dragster, claimed a world's speed record with a 196.07 MPH clocking. One old timer remembered, "In '64-'65 I was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi. On Saturday afternoons we would go to a little strip about 20 miles or so northeast (I think) of town, and we would run well into the night. Some light bulbs were strung along the dirt return road. . .  we saw a lot of famous cars (for the time) run there. Garlits, Little Red Wagon, Connie Swingle, Hemi Under Glass." The Biloxi Dragway Official Website is an excellent and long-time resource on this venerable old drag strip.
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1960
CLICK HERE to see video promo showing old photos, etc. of Biloxi Dragway
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CLICK HERE to see video clip of photos of Biloxi Dragway, 4:40 minutes

Hub City Drag Raceway/Drag Way (Hattiesburg)

  • Years of Operation: 1964-present

This dual-lane strip opened for racing on September 20, 1964. Paul VanderLey took top stock eliminator with a 127.5 MPH run. Located north of Hattiesburg, it was owned and built by Odell McLaurin. O. A. Dremen was the vice president. It was on Eatonville Road, one-half mile from the I-59 Eatonville exit. They had over a hundred acres for free parking. An early raceway advertisement stated, "for colored patrons--we will have an area finished in a few weeks." Races were held every Sunday. On November 1, 1964, the track held a Super Stock Invitational, attracting racers like Bill "Maverick" Golden in his 426 Hemi Dodge and Paul VanderLey with his 427 Comet. The purse was worth $250 for first place.
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CLICK HERE to see location on a map
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1964
CLICK HERE to see video promo Hub City Dragway, 2012, produced by El Jones

Joy Drive-in Theater (Greenville)

  • Years of Operation: 1961

Drag races were held at a drive-in movie theater located on Highway 82 on the east side of Greenville. It was on the northeast corner of Highway 82 and Beauchamp Avenue. Little is known about this; more research is needed.
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CLICK HERE to see location on a map

Keesler Air Force Base

  • Years of Operation: 1956-57, 1959

A two-day drag race was held on the main runway on the base on December 29-30, 1956. The race was sponsored by the Ground Safety Section. With the success of this first race, the base commander approved the staging of a second race on February 23, 1957. The race was to be held on the northeast-southwest runway.. Spectator stands were to be set up in front of the Naval Reserve Park.
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CLICK HERE to see location on a map

Magnolia Dragway/Deep South Dragway/Gulfport Dragway

  • Years of Operation:  1972-present
 
Located about a mile west of the Gulfport airport and north of Gulfport, this track opened in 1972. Built and managed by Fred Cospelich, they began holding grudge races on Sunday, June 25, 1972, at the new strip east of Canal Road. From the beginning, the track was sanctioned by NHRA. On July 1, 1973, Leroy Goldstein driving the Candies & Hughes AA/FD won a best of three match race against Clayton Harris. A crowd of 3,000 people saw Harris set a track (and state of Mississippi) record, despite losing the match, with a 6.30 second run. In 1974, the name of the strip was changed to Deep South Dragway, while retaining its NHRA sanction. On June 22-23, 1974, the track hosted the NHRA first annual Rebel National Open. The new category of Pro Comp was run at this event. Cospelich sold the track in 1979 and the new owners changed the name to Gulfport International Dragway. On August 24-26, the track hosted the Mississippi State Championship drag race with a $30,000 purse. In 1980, it hosted the IDBA Nationals for drag bikes. The track continues operating today under IHRA sanction.
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November 19, 1972
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1974
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2015
CLICK HERE to see International Drag Bike Association Nationals at Gulfport International Dragway, 1980, 16:16 minutes

Nettleton "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1968
 
The year the drag strip opened has not been found, but Jimmy Riley, age 26, of Fulton was killed at the strip on Sunday, April 28, 1968.  He lost control of his car, crashed, and his car wedged between three trees. The strip was located four miles southeast of Nettleton on Highway 6. Research has been unable to find anything more about this drag strip. A DSL reader, Carolyn Cooley, remembers it being called Bud's Racetrack.
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Pascagoula "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1957
 
Drag races were purportedly conducted in or near Pascagoula in 1957, but more research is needed. They may have been held at the Jackson County Airport located northeast of Pascagoula.
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Riverside Dragway (Pearl)

  • Years of Operation:   1972-1990s
 
James Alford built the strip in Pearl, opening it to racing in 1972. Don Garlits was pitted in a match race against Keith Craig's T/FD from Tulsa in 1982 (see YouTube video below). This may have been the race that   Zack Methvin described when he first saw Garlits run. He said, "Does anyone remember the dragstrip in Jackson, Mississippi called Riverside Dragway? I spent a good many years there. This was where I met Don Garlits for the first time. I thought I was a millionaire when he autographed my pit pass sticker. The track was on the east side of Jackson right on the north side of Interstate 20."  Pearl High School sits on the site of the old drag strip. One old timer raced at Riverside during the entire course of its history. He said, "It opened in 1972 and ran up into the 90's before the lease was terminated and and the track was leveled and the new high school built. It was a NHRA Division 2 or 4 track for most of its years and ran a points meet every year until Norman 'Moose' Pearah took it over and then let the track get closed . . .  It was a common sight for Mississippi Highway Patrol cars to be parked along I-20 all day when racing was going on. The track staging lanes ran right along the I-20 right of way and the track ran north. Pits and return road were on the right side of the track and very hilly." 
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Listing in National Dragster, Dec. 23, 1977. Courtesy of Mel Bashore
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Don Garlits in a match race against Keith Craig's T/FD from Tulsa at Pearl Dragway, 1982, 15:15 minutes

Williams Airport (Jackson)

  • Years of Operation: 1955

Drag races were first held in Mississippi at Williams Airport (or John Bell Williams Airport), located eighteen miles west of Jackson.  Fifty cars competed at a race held on August 28, 1955. It was conducted by the Jackson Timing Association and was sponsored by the Jackson Police Department and Mississippi State Highway Safety Patrol. More research is needed.
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