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Manville Airport (1951)
Linden Airport (1954)
Woodbine Airfield (1956)

Arneys Mount/Mt. Holly Speedway (1957)
​Gloucester City "Drag Strip" (1957)
Vineland Speedway Drag Strip (1958)
Old Bridge Speedway (1959)
Atco Dragway/Raceway (1960)
Island Dragway (Great Meadows) (1960)
Flemington Route 12 Dragway (1962)
Pleasantville Speedway/Atlantic City Speedway 1962)
Harmony Speedway Dragstrip (Brainards) (1964)
Old Bridge Township Raceway Park (Englishtown) (1965)
Strato Rods Dragway (Wrightstown) (1966)


 
Atco Dragway. Photographer unknown

Arneys Mount/Mt. Holly Speedway (Mt. Ida)


A 1/8th-mile track was in operation for several years in conjunction with the 1/3rd-mile paved oval track, which had first opened in 1955. The oval and the drag strip, on fifteen acres, were listed for sale at auction in 1967. In looking at historic topo maps and aerials, the drag strip was an extension of the northwest-direction straightaway. Research has found little documentation other than a brief online speedway history.
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1965
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Mount Holly Spedway, ​ 1956 aerial photo
Mount Holly Spedway, ​ 1961 topo map

Atco Dragway/Raceway

  • Years of Operation: 1960-present

In April 1960, newspapers reported that a drag strip was then under construction on Jackson Road in Atco, New Jersey. The South Jersey Timing Association had been organized to supervise the racing. The track opened for racing on May 30, 1960. Opening ceremonies featured comments by Frank Shram, the mayor of Atco, and Kathy Connors, Miss Atco Dragway. About 1,500 people watched over 200 cars compete in 38 classes. Joe Jacono took Top Eliminator honors in his Buick-engined A dragster with a run of 10.02 at 138.88 MPH. Bill Pyle took Middle Eliminator and George Wheeler took Little Eliminator. Hot Rod''s monthly listing of sanctioned NHRA tracks (August 1960 issue) stated that races would be held every Sunday and every Wednesday night beginning June 8, 1960.  On June 19, 1960, Kentucky Derby winning jockey Bill Hartack drove a beefed-up Chrysler 300 at Atco at a time of 16.01 seconds at 86.08 MPH. Over 500 cars from seventeen states were expected to enter the NHRA Eastern Regional Championships to be held on July 3-4, 1960. In 1961, Connie Swingle drove Don Garlits' car at Atco on what Garlits remembered was a "bumpy strip." Races were held every Sunday. In 1965, Atco was sanctioned by AHRA. In 1977, it started being called Atco International Raceway when it changed from NHRA-sanctioning to IHRA. 
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July 3-4, 1960
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CLICK HERE to listen to 1974 commercial WFIL radio spot for World Fuel Funny Car Championship at Atco Raceway, pan to 1:35 minute mark to hear it. Wednesday Night!!!!
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Atco Raceway in the 1960s, in a drag racing film, 24 minutes
2001

Flemington Route 12 Dragway 


This 1/8th-mile track was four miles west of Flemington on Route 12. When it opened in 1961, the land was carved out of the former Susan Barama farm. Earle Lawson, Edward Dissler Jr., Leon Walls and Thomas Stryker, all Franklin residents, had bought the 109-acre tract from Mrs. Barama for $30,000 and built a drag strip. The first race was held on May 27, 1962. It opened as a tree-lined 1/8th-mile strip, the owners hoping to soon get bleachers built. Bruce Jenson copped top eliminator at the grand opener with a best time of 7.955 seconds. On June 3, 1962, newspapers reported that John Arbraitis would take on all-comers and that George Ogonowski had taken top eliminator the previous week in his A dragster with a run of 103.09 MPH. On July 1, 1962, Clyde Harnish set a track record in his B dragster with a run of 7.148 seconds at 108.70 MPH. In early July 1963, William J. Grossman, a Kingwood Township farmer, bought the 109-acre tract containing the drag strip from the four co-owners for about $100,000. Grossman hoped to lengthen the strip to a quarter-mile and erect bleachers. Grossman spent about $50,000 making improvements, including lengthening the strip for quarter-mile racing. Racing on quarter-mile distances began in spring 1964. Mike Kazin was the track manager. On May 17, 1964, the track booked Art Arfons to make exhibition runs in his "Cyclops" jet dragster, clocking 223 MPH. On June 7, A. J. Clay set a new strip speed record with a 187.50 MPH run. To attract spectators in 1964, the strip brought in such racers as E. J. "Parachute" Potter, Ronnie Sox, and Don Garlits.  One old timer who raced at Flemington recalled, "Ran at Flemington the weekend of the '64 season. My dad, girlfriend, and I flat towed down there. Boy was it cold. My girlfriend and I rode in the race car so I could catch it if the wheels didn't follow in the turns. We liked to froze. I got a trophy for the class, and runner-up for stock eliminator. They would spot the slower car out ahead on the track, acording to their national record. They also had a flagman instead of lights." No documentation could be found for racing after 1965.
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Gloucester City "Drag Strip"


The mayor and police department of Gloucester City gave their approval for an exhibition drag race to be held on Water Street on Sunday, August 25, 1957. It was sponsored by the Power-Paks Rod and Custom Club.
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Harmony Speedway Dragstrip (Brainards)

 
This clay oval track and asphalt 1/8th-mile drag strip was built by Richard Crouse, a farmer from Harmony Township and Carl Van Horn, the noted modified stock car driver from nearby Belvidere. Located six miles north of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, construction was started in 1962. The D-shaped track was 5/8 of a mile in length.  The oval  track opened on Friday evening, June 7, 1963, with NASCAR sanctioned modified, sportsman and novice stock car divisions. The paved 1/8th-mile drag strip was built between the oval track and the grandstands, which had seating for 7,000. Drag races were held on Saturday nights, with racing starting in June 1964. Ed Beers said that Carl Van Horn managed it from 1964-65, when it was called Harmony Speedway Dragstrip. When Dick Fleck was the promoter in 1966, it was called Harmony Drag A Way. In 1965, Jack Redd's Eastern Drag Times reportedly sponsored a Top Dog meet. The team of Burns & Yost cut their teeth at the Harmony track. Ed Beers said that the Harmony track possibly ran into 1967. Old timers recalled that when it first opened, the return road was full of potholes, but if you did not negotiate the turn for the return road, you faced running up a gravel hill. The last oval track races were held in 1973.
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1964
1992 aerial view of Harmony Speedway Drag Strip

Island Dragway (Great Meadows)

  • Years of Operation: 1959-present

Although documentation is sparse, there is some reason to suspect that Island Dragway was open for racing as early as 1959. Hot Rod Magazine's  ​monthly drag strip listings dates the opening of this drag strip to June 26, 1960, but rain on that date caused its opening until mid-July. Ed Beers wrote that "one of the class winners on opening day was Arnie Swensen of Swensen & Lani fame." It was listed as an NHRA track, running every Sunday in the August 1960 issue of Hot Rod magazine. In one of the first races at the new strip, Matt Herbert won top eliminator honors in his Chrysler-powered dragster with a 129.13 MPH speed. Races were conducted by the Great Meadows Timing Association.
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Listing in ​​National Dragster, Dec. 23, 1977. Courtesy of Mel Bashore
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Island Dragway, circa 1969-70, go to 2:50 minute mark for footage of Island Dragway, ends at 10:50 minute mark
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Island Dragway in 1962, 4 minutes, music only/no sound
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Don Garlits' first official 200 MPH run, Island Dragway, August 2, 1964, 3:28 minutes

Linden Airport 


Over 2,500 people watched the first quarter-mile drag race conducted at city-owned Linden Airport. Held on July 25, 1954, it attracted 45 cyclists and 110 cars. The New Jersey Timing Association conducted a race in August 1954, reportedly attracting over 8,000 spectators. Racing was timed for 1/5th mile and were sponsored by the Linden Auto Club. See photos of this race in Hot Rod Magazine, (Nov. 1954): 38-39.  "Berserko" Bob Doerrer went with his Uncle Carl to his first drag race in 1956. He recalled, "As a little kid growing up in central New Jersey in the 1950s, I was always enamored with cars and racing, specifically drag racing. I often thought how cool it would be to live in California where there were, it seemed like, drag strips in every city. In 1956, the NHRA announced that their Safety Safari would hold a major-league drag race on the runways of Linden (NJ) airport. This was it, my nirvana, I had to be there! Being 10 years old and having no way to get there, I talked my Uncle Carl into taking me in exchange for a tank of gas (about three or four bucks back then). We hopped into his '55 Chevy hardtop with a power-pack 265 and took off. When we got there I thought I'd died and gone to drag racing heaven. Rail jobs everywhere! I'd never seen in person one of these diggers, only in magazines. Plus there were gassers, modifieds, altereds, stockers and (Gasp!) sportscars!   I wandered the pits, taking photos of everything with my Brownie camera. Where was my Uncle? In the tech line! He'd gotten so pumped up when he saw what was going on he decided to give it a try. When I got back to the car, there numbers and letters written in shoe polish on the windows, and his prized possession, phony wire wheel hub caps were removed; he was ready to race! Now I was really tipped over! I was gonna ride in the staging lanes to the starting line in my Uncle's 'race car.' No longer was I just an average kid at the drags, I was part of a race crew. When Carl's time trial came up, I hopped out and watched as he smoked the right rear tire for what seemed like half the track. When he returned to the pits, he said that he was out-classed and decided not to run eliminations, so we spent the rest of the afternoon into the evening watching every run down the track. We returned home and on the way Uncle Carl and I decided that we should build a real race car."  The airport was built in 1942 to test Grumman Wildcat airplanes, then turned over to Linden after the war. 
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Manville Airport


Quarter-mile drag races were purportedly held on a runway of Manville Airport (now Central Jersey Regional Airport) according to an online source . It also used to be called Kupper's Field. The airport was opened in the late 1930s or early 1940s, but it had not been used by airplanes since the mid-1940s. It was used as both an airport and drag racing venue in the 1950s.  "Berserko" Bob Doerrer went with his Uncle Carl and their 1951 Ford Tudor flathead-engined race car as a 10-year-old tag-along to a track at Manville in 1956. He recalled, "Now there weren't a lot of drag strips in Jersey back then, but there was an "Outlaw" track in Manville that we picked to make our debut. We flat-towed our Gasser behind one of my father's delivery trucks (he owned a flower shop) and used it to hold all our tools. First time trial good, second time trial bad. The first pass was OK, it made it down the track in a reasonable amount of time, I don't remember the ET or speed.. The second run was the beginning of the end for our flattie. Something broke in the engine and caused it to backfire and backfire it did. Our leaky Strombergs fed what seemed to be a Hindenburg-size fire. Uncle Carl got out fast and we watched as the car burnt to the ground as the track crew feebly tried to put it out. After the flames subsided we decided that there wasn't anything worth saving and sold the remains right then and there to a junk dealer who was at the track. The fire, by the way, burned a hole in the track about 50 feet off the line that had to be repaired before racing could resume in that lane; needless to say, we weren't the most popular guys there that day. The ride home was ugly, both Carl and I were broken-hearted, all our time and money was burnt to a crisp." It was being called Manville Dragway in newspapers in 1961. Weekly drag races were being held that year through October. Ed Otto was the promoter and Rick Decker, the operator. The 50-foot wide runway strip had installed 3-foot high guardrails on both sides of the raceway that year, with a 6-foot high metal fence between the guardrail and the seating area. The Sunday drag races raised the ire of citizens of adjoining Little Weston. Hillsborough officials on September 12, 1961, told the strip that racing had to stop, citing a zoning violation. Decker applied for a special use permit to continue the racing and said he would continue holding races until the hearing was held. At the hearing, pros and cons were voiced by a large crowd of attendees and the zoning board of adjustments decided to defer making a decision. The zoning board unanimously voted to halt Sunday racing on October 9, 1961. Four days later, Decker filed a suit to overturn the board's decision and held, what was to be a final drag race on October 15, 1961. Decker then resumed using the old airport strictly as an airport, but periodically tried to persuade Hillsborough to let him hold drag races for the next couple of years--without success. 
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Old Bridge Speedway


Drag races were run on Saturday nights on the short 1/16th-mile front straight-away of the oval track. It was not uncommon for the races to draw more than 100 competitors. Art Grotyohann was the manager of the drag races.  "We raced on the front stretch," remembered racer Tom Haug , "and started in the 4th turn of the speedway. The flag man (before the tree) was up on a perch just above the right lane. We all took turns 'holding cars.' Since the starting line was still oln the 4th turn, our starting line was banked and this was long before linelocks." Another old racer, George Perkins , also recalled, "In my teens we used to drag race at O.B. They called it shotgun drag racing. We'd race on Saturday nights. The starting line was in turn four. The banking made the cars roll forward, so they would have guys hold onto the fenders of the standard shift cars to keep them from rolling through the lights. The finish line was down by the flag stand. The most efficient drag strip ever. If you won, you picked up your time slip on the backstretch by the pit gate, then lined back up in three and four. O.B. had starting lights before any of the other drag strips in the area."   Gary Fitton, an old racer, recalled , "I ran the Saturday night drags a few times in '61 with my new Ford Starliner 390/374 hp S/S, 3 speed OD with a Hurst floor shift. I remember you could rent a helmet for a couple of bucks, and you left your driver's license as insurance that you would return it. A few times my girlfriend drove me because I had lost my license after a run-in with the Wall Twp. police on Martin Road, behind the Belmar Circus Drive-In. I guess I would have used her license as helmet insurance on those nights. Anyway I would put on my slicks, put in fresh plugs, and open up the exhaust cutout. A few times I went up against my buddy Al Hoffman and his '59 Chevy--close, but he usually got me. The first time I ran there I remember how fast the turn came up after the finish line!"  After the speedway closed a housing development was built on the site.
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October 11, 1959
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1962
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1964
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of oval track races at Old Bridge in the 1960s, 1:47 minutes, no sound
1967

Old Bridge Township Raceway Park (Englishtown)

  • Years of Operation: 1965-present
 
Raceway Park was founded by Vincent and Louis Napoliello. It was originally 308 acres, and since then it has grown to over 500 acres with multiple motorsports activities including two drag strips, three motocross tracks, 1.3 mile road course, go kart track, etc.  The drag strip opened for racing in July 1965. It was also called Madison Township Raceway Park. In the June 1970 issue of Hot Rod, Madison Township Raceway Park was listed with other NHRA sanctioned strips. Englishtown is the home of the Summernationals, one of NHRA's original seven big events. [Charlie Roberts was the track announcer; read his memory of producing the radio spot ad for the match race between Shirley Muldowney and Jungle Jim Liberman, which you can listen to (below).]
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CLICK HERE to listen to old commercial radio spot for Raceway Park at Englishtown, 59 seconds
July 18, 1965
CLICK HERE to listen to 1969 commercial radio spot for Raceway Park at Englishtown, 28 seconds
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CLICK HERE to listen to circa 1972 commercial radio spot for Raceway Park at Englishtown, 1:04 minutes
1965
CLICK HERE to see TV commercial for Jet Car Nationals at Englishtown Raceway Park, 1984, 0:29 minutes
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Englishtown Raceway Park, 1967, 5:58 minutes
September 19, 1965

Pleasantville Speedway/Atlantic City Speedway 


Located northwest of the intersection of Washington Avenue and Doughty Road in Egg Harbor Township, the speedway oval owned by George Stockinger was variously called EHT Speedway, Atlantic City Speedway (1964-69), or Pleasantville Speedway (prior to 1964). Drag races were generally held on Friday nights. One of the first drag races, if not the first drag race, was held on August 17, 1962 Racers generally referred to it as P'ville. According to Ed Beers, drag races were run on the front stretch, from turn one to turn four.
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1962
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Atlantic City Speedway, 1967 ​​​ topo map
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1964
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Atlantic City Speedway, 1970 ​​​ aerial photo
May 26, 1972
CLICK HERE to see wonderful video of still photos of Ken and Charlie Thomas racing at Pleasantville Speedway in the 1960s, photos by Ken Sooy, 3:45 minutes

Strato Rods Dragway (Wrightstown)


The U. S. Air Force sponsored races on a runway at McGuire Air Force Base. It began when base personnel persuaded the base commander to let them use a rarely-used runway at McGuire. They raced from April through early November. They used NHRA rules, but did not have NHRA sanction because of a conflict between the Air Force and NHRA over the fence distance to the track. The races were not run for profit, but profits were plowed back into the strip operation and excess funds donated to charities. One old timer recalled, "In the '70s and '80s there was a dragstrip on an unused runway on Maguire AFB called Stratorods Dragstrip. I would help setup and tear down for free admission." Matt Delio said, "I was stationed at Fort Dix before I went to Vietnam, Just accross Texas ave. sat McGuire AFB. The first runway was used as a dragstrip . . . .  An excellent place to run a street car, or low buck dragster, or homemade altered. We spent many a Sunday trying to win one of those little trophies or a couple of bucks. Just a couple of arguments and shouting matches. They put on a March of Dimes meet once a year with a top prize of $1,000 ($500 to the winner, $500 to the March of Dimes, presented to the poster child). Pretty neat! Sigh, the good old days." (See also Chuck Dublick's Memories )
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Listing in ​​​National Dragster, Dec. 23, 1977. Courtesy of Mel Bashore

Vineland Speedway Drag Strip


The speedway opened in 1955 as a half-mile dirt track on South Delsea Drive. The dirt was paved in 1958, then expanded by incorporating a 1.5 mile sports car road course that included a quarter-mile drag strip. The first drag race was held at the speedway on May 10, 1958. Promoter Bill Nocco decided to open the track to drag racers on a 4-week trial basis, after being besieged by requests. The races were sponsored by the AHRA and conducted by the Power-Paks car club of Gloucester City. Racing was conducted in over 20 classes, with fifty cars entered in the first race. Frank Simirigla of Blenheim took the top honors, compiling an average speed of 76.2 MPH. Fred Hartley of Vineland had the fastest speed with a 78.8 MPH run. Nocco had said that if enough interest was shown in these trial drag races, he would build a regulation strip. At the second race, held on May 17, the Power-Paks were assisted by the Delaware Valley Timing Association in running the races. One thousand people watched the race on May 31, encouraging Nocco and promoter Tony Coccaro to proceed with plans to build a regulation drag strip. One of the track's racing requirements was that racers had to use a fabricated padded metal chain furnished by the track to fasten shut the driver's side door. In July, the speedway received permission from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Division to go ahead with its plans to build a drag strip. The strip was scheduled to be completed in three weeks. At the race held on August 17, 1958, Walt Kinsley of Sewell took top eliminator for the third straight week with a 126 MPH clocking. Joe Sutherland of Long Island broke the strip record in his Cadillac-powered dragster with 138.25 MPH run. On September 20-21, 1958, NHRA staged a regional championship at the newly-paved strip. The track lured from 150 to over 200 racers each Sunday throughout the remainder of the 1958 season.  In 1959, drag racing was held at the speedway every Saturday night from June through September.  In 1960, the races were sanctioned by NHRA. On Sunday, May 8, 1960, Joe Jacono was among almost 500 entries at the NHRA event. Races were generally held on Saturday in 1963.  On June 15, 1963, the speedway drag strip booked a match race between Malcolm Durham's '63 Chev "Strip Blazer" and Don Coppola's '63 Plymouth.  But the speedway operation was a money-sucking venture for a number of reasons. Chief among them was the land leasing proposition. Promoter Bill Nocco had to pay lease monies to several land owners. Bad weather and poor attendance also factored into the speedway's decline. But the final blow happened in February 1965 when 75 acres off Sherman Avenue was chosen for the site of a community college. Although part of that property was being leased to the speedway, an agreement was reached for the speedway to close by the time the school was completed. In July 1965, the speedway closed.
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November 30, 1958
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June 15, 1963
CLICK HERE to see wonderful video footage documentary of oval track stock car races at Vineland in the 1950s and 1960s, produced by Russ Dodge, 15:47 minutes
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of sports car races at Vineland in the early 1960s, produced by Bill Massi, 11:51 minutes
1991 aerial view of Vineland Speedway Drag Strip

Woodbine Airfield


Racing took place on a runway at Woodbine Municipal Airport, a mile southeast of the town. Some sources state it started in 1951, but documentation is scant. The first newspaper documentation found in research for this database dates to 1956.  The New Jersey Timing Association conducted races that were held on June 16-17, 1956. It was expected that the race would attract about 200 racers. The Tri-State Drags, including racers from Long Island, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, were planned for June 23-24. Racing was scheduled in 26 classes. North Plainfield's Motor Mounts Hot Rod Club handled the timing, usiing a timer that they had built. Other races were held on September 16, September 30, and October 14. More research is needed.
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June 16-17, 1956
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September 30, 1956