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Drag Strip List

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia

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Syracuse "Drag Strip" (1952)
Buffalo "Drag Strip" (1953)
Glen Cove "Drag Strip" (1953)
Westhampton Raceway/Long Island Dragway (1953)
Huntington "Drag Strip" (1954)
Pennellville Drag Strip (1954)
Pulaski Airpark (1954) 
Fulton Municipal Airport (1955)
​Northport "Drag Strip" (1955)
​Eastport Drag Strip (1956)
​Canton Speedway (1957)
Fonda Speedway (1957)
Sampson Drag Strip (1957)
Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course (1957)
Monroe County Fairgrounds (Spencerport) (1958)
Montgomery Airstrip (1958)
Ontario County Fairgrounds (Canandaigua) (1958)
​Plattsburgh Air Force Base (1958)
Rochester "Drag Strip" (1958)
Duffek's Dragway (Owego) (1959)
Dunkirk Airport (1959)
Jacksons Dragway/King's Dragway (South Butler) (1959)
New York State Fairgrounds (Syracuse) (1959)
Spencer Speedway (Williamson) (1959)
ESTA Safety Park Dragstrip (Cicero) (1960)
Hudson Falls "Drag Strip" (1960)
Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway (1961)
Airborne Park Speedway (Plattsburgh) (1961)
Dover Drag Strip (Wingdale) (1961)
​Islip Speedway Drag Strip (1961)
Niagara Raceway Park (1961)
Oswego Speedway (1961)
Tri-Cities Drag-Way (Endicott) (1961)
Victory Speedway (Middletown) (1961)
Milray Speedway/Dragway (Fulton) (1962)
North Hudson Dragway (1962)
Roosevelt Raceway (Long Island) (1962)
South Glens Falls Dragway (Moreau) (1962)
Lebanon Valley Speedway/Dragway (West Lebanon) (1963)
Action Dragway/Fulton Raceway (1965)
Utica-Rome Dragway (Vernon) (1965)
New York National Speedway(Center Moriches, L.I.) (1966)
Empire Dragway (Leicester) (1971)
Tioga Motorsports Park (Owego) (1990s)


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Niagara Airport Dragstrip, circa 1966. Photographer unknown

Action Dragway/Fulton Raceway

  • Years of Operation: 1965-76

This 1/8th-mile track, south of Fulton on Route 57, opened for racing on Wednesday night, July 14, 1965.  Sanctioned by ESTA, it was on the south side of the Fulton Speedway oval. It was leased by Action Promotions. The first winners at the track were Gus Schmidt of Moyers Corners and Mike Paneblanco of Chittenango. Schmidt was a winner the following week as he took top eliminator with a speed of 117 MPH. There were 85 entries at the second week event. The track shifted the drag racing program from Wednesday to Thursday nights in early August. Racing generally drew from 70-90 entries each week. Raymond Benway, owner of Fulton Raceway, approached  the Oswego County Board of Supervisors in 1967 about converting the Oswego County Airport to a drag strip, but that came to nothing. The drag racing program bounced around from Friday to Saturday nights and Sundays in later years as the promoter looked to maximize interest and attendance.  Research only found evidence of drag racing up to 1976.
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1973

Airborne Park Speedway (Plattsburgh)

  • Years of Operation:  1961-69

Drag races were first held on Friday night, June 2, 1961, conducted by the North Eastern Timing Association. Races were conducted on an 1/8th-mile distance on the oval track. The races were sanctioned by NASCAR. Trophies were awarded to class winners.
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1961

Buffalo "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: ca. 1953

Buffalo had a successful drag strip race program somewhere in the vicinity at least by 1953. In early 1954, Dunkirk (NY) city council was interested in learning about their program as they were considering having a drag strip to promote safe drag racing. More research is needed.
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Canton Speedway

  • Years of Operation:  1957

On July 4, 1957, the half-mile oval track included a drag race feature in its program. Four trophies were awarded to the winners. It proved popular and was included as an added feature in following race programs, too. The speedway was also called St. Lawrence Valley Speedway, which opened for racing in 1950..
125171013
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1957

Dover Drag Strip (Wingdale)

  • Years of Operation: 1961-76
 
Chet Anderson bought 144 acres of farm land in Wingdale and partnered with Joe Archiere to build a drag strip. Dover opened on May 14, 1961 with the Danbury Modifiers car club conducting the race. Dover filled a void with the closing of Montgomery Airstrip (see below). The track claimed to be the "smoothest, fastest drag strip in the East."  It switched from the old flag starter to a Christmas tree by 1964. In one of the early newspaper articles about the track, James Hoellerich of the Hoosac Valley Motorcycle Club won top eliminator with a run of 101 MPH in 13.37 seconds on July 22, 1962. Tom DeLello recalled that Billy and Bobby Lagana were the speedsters at Dover in the early years. Don Garlits raced at Dover four times, setting the track record of 192 MPH before 1964. Dover was sanctioned by NHRA for only one year (ca. 1967) due to safety concerns. The only remnant of the old track still evident is the return road.
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1961
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Dover Drag Strip in 1970s, 2 minutes
CLICK HERE to see aerial views of what Dover Drag Strip looks like today (2016), 11:50 minutes
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Dover Drag Strip in early 1960s, first 7:15 minutes of clip

Duffek's Dragway (Owego)

  • Years of Operation:  1959

Research has found very little about this strip, other than that it was a viable drag strip with a concrete starting pad. It was a 1/8th-mile strip associated with Shangri-La Speedway, an old paved half-mile track on Route 17, west of Owego. NASCAR-sanctioned drag racing began and ended in 1959 after only a few races.
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125171013
Shangri-La Speedway, ​ 2002 aerial photo
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Shangri-La Speedway Drags, go to the 8:07 minute mark of clip, finished at 8:20 minute mark, produced by James Amos

Dunkirk Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1959-62

The first race was held on the main 4,000-foot runway at this old airfield (ca. 1943) on June 14, 1959. Prolific race promoter George "Kilroy" Marshman was the race director. It was also the first drag racing event in the western New York area. Races were held weekly on Sunday, weather permitting. They raced in 33 classes. The safety director was Bill Holland, winner of the 1949 Indy 500. Two thousand people watched three drivers exceed 100 MPH on July 12. Don Turner of Rochester went 111 MPH in his B roadster for the meet's top speed. Joan Cummings of Tonawanda went 104.75 MPH in her DeSoto-powered Essex Terraplane. These speeds were only small indications of the very fast speeds that would soon bring speedsters from afar to run at Dunkirk. On July 19, 4000 people watched an entry field of more than 250 cars. Jerry Hamman of Niagara Falls ran 183.262 MPH to establish a new track record. On August 2, Walt Arfons received minor injuries to his feet when the clutch on his Green Monster No. 13 exploded when he was about half-track doing about 140 MPH. Art Malone, driving for Don Garlits, set a new world record of 187.671 MPH on September 27. Six thousand people saw Malone back up that record run with a sensational 195.653 MPH run. There were also two other national records set by Odie Smith and Arlen Vanke. Malone said of the Dunkirk track, "You get a heck of a bite here." But in retrospect, Don Garlits dismissed those national records as being inaccurate. Garlits said, "The timing at Dunkirk was done with air hoses spread across the track, like those used for counting traffic on public highways, and the clocks depended on the air pressure being perfect at all times. Unfortunately, this pressure varied a great deal, which in turn gave some widely divergent times." On July 24, 1960, Don Garlits ran 178 MPH, but mechanical problems prevented him from running in the top eliminator race, which was won by Connie Kalitta. On July 31, Kalitta, who stayed another week to run there, took the top eliminator title. In mid-1961, the mayor of Dunkirk was upset that the city had to clean up the airport after the races. The contract stipulated that the racers were supposed to clean up within 24 hours of a race, but they weren't doing it. Richard Peglowski thought that the city of Dunkirk had something against the drag strip and was grasping at straws to find reasons to abolish it. He had worked at the strip in 1961 and said, "we cleaned the main runway off after each day of racing." He thought the city wasn't being responsible in giving up the $4,200 in rent the drag strip paid annually to the city, plus the money that the racing brought into the city's restaurants, motels, and bars. (Dunkirk Evening Observer, June 1, 1962)
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July 19, 1959
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Eastport Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1956

Ed Eaton, of Huntington, was head of the group that operated the drag strip. The strip opened in the fall of 1956. Newspapers reported the site of the racing was "a five minute ride from Route 27 at Old County Road" in Eastport.
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Empire Dragway ​(Leicester)

  • Years of Operation: 1968-present

This track opened at least by May 1968 under NHRA sanction. It ran every Sunday and was managed that year by Robert S. Brody. Owners Nick Abraham, Robert Brody, and Peter Geib initially tried to get the strip located in the town of Murray, but when that fell through, they got the OK to build it in Leicester. They spent $500,000 to get it up and running.  In an article in the Canandaigua Daily Messenger ("Dragway Funny Cars," Sep. 16, 1971) it states: "Empire Dragway, which opened officially on Aug. 29, is considered one of the most modern auto racing plants in the East." More research is needed on the track's early history. The strip is located three miles due west of Geneseo and northwest of the hamlet of Leicester. It operated under IHRA sanction in 1971. It had a seating capacity of 6,000. The first big race was held there on Sunday, September 19, 1971. The New York State Fuel Funny Car Championships offered a $5,000 purse for the eight fastest qualifiers. Some of the racers appearing at that meet included Tom "Smoker" Smith, Don Carlton, Gene Altizer, and Al Segrini. The track boasted the longest shutdown area on the East Coast at 3,000 feet. In early September 1972, a rock concert was held at the strip featuring such groups as Deep Purple and Fleetwood Mac. The track purportedly was also called Dragway 36 at one time. The Gold Cup was an annual event in the 1970s. In 1986, Bob and Donna Metcalfe bought the track, running it under sanctioning NHRA, but reverting back to IHRA in 1989. In 1990, the track hosted its first IHRA Empire Nationals. During this time, the track was called New York International Raceway Park. In 2009, the track changed back to its original Empire Dragway name. At the end of the 2013 season, Jerry and Clara Scaccia bought the track, which continues operation under IHRA sanction.
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1974
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of New York International Raceway Park, 2005, 8.38 minutes
CLICK HERE to listen to 2014 commercial radio spot for Empire Dragway, 32 seconds

ESTA Safety Park Dragstrip (Cicero)

  • Years of Operation: 1960-present

A stock corporation provided financing to build the strip. Construction work was well underway in July on the 3,500 foot long asphalt track. It was built with two 29-foot wide lanes with a 20-foot dividing section. It was located on Eastwood Road off Route 31 between Cicero and Bridgeport. It was managed by the Empire State Timing Association and was sanctioned by NHRA. The first race was held on August 21, 1960, with trophies in 25 classes. Bill O'Connor of Brewerton took top eliminator in his 1932 Ford pickup with a run of 101.82 MPH in 13.532 seconds. This first race drew 100 entries and 1,700 spectators. Races were being held every Sunday in 1961 during the good-weather months of  the year. Advertisements in 1964 touted it as being "all new," so there must have been some refurbishment for that season. Don Garlits appeared at the season opener on July 4, 1964. On May 9, 1976, Sammy Miller drove the "Spirt of '76" rocket funny car to a new track record of 6.76 seconds at 197.68 MPH.
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July 4-5, 1964
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CLICK HERE to see Super 8mm video footage of ESTA Dragstrip in about 1974, 2:25 minutes, no sound
CLICK HERE to see video footage of ESTA Dragstrip, 1989, 21:56 minutes

Fonda Speedway

  • Years of Operation: 1957-68

A half-mile dirt oval track was established at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in 1927. A 1/8 mile drag strip operated in 1957 and 1958. It ran down the center infield of the oval. The runout area lead out onto turn four of the oval track. A 1/4 mile dragstrip opened on May 20th, 1959 and operated through 1968. The drag races were sanctioned by NASCAR at least as early as 1961 and continued through its years of operation. Shirley Muldowney's drag racing career started on the Fonda drag strip in 1958. One lady recalled seeing her:  "I remember spending many a nights at Fonda Speed Way. Wednesdays were the drags and Saturdays was stock cars.  My ex, Vinny, raced his cars there as did his friends Vinny Maugeri and Lou Razzano.  We were there one Wednesday night when Cha Cha Muldowney hit a pole and split her Corvette in half during a race. The damn thing shattered completely. She walked away limping but was okay. . . . Fonda was quite the race track back then and brought in many a good driver." Another old timer echoed the lady's memories:  "I remember first going to Fonda around 1963- 1964 I wasn't old enough to drive . . . . Shirley Muldowney was there weekly and had a favorite saying written on the side of her car  'If you beat me ___ ___ ___ __!'  She had quite a vivid imagination!  The dragstrip was down the middle of the oval track and not much room to stop. The 'SPOT' between the racers was given in feet or car lengths, not time on the clock like today."
125171013
1967
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Freedomland U.S.A. (New York City)

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1965

Freedomland U.S.A. was a large, short-lived American-themed amusement park built in the northeastern part of the Bronx in New York City. Opening in June 1960, it was plagued with problems and filed for bankruptcy in mid-September 1964. After it closed, drag racers appropriated part of the parking lot on which to hold 1/8th-mile drag races. It was an illegal operation, but racers saw an opportunity and took advantage of it.   Gene Terenzio, Sr. raced there. He remembered that the parking lot strip-surface "cracks had grass growing out of them." More research is needed.
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CLICK HERE to see black & white promo film clip of the Freedomland amusement park in 1963, a glimpse of its parking lot at end of clip, 7:04 minutes
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Fulton Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1955-56

The Empire State Timing Association began conducting quarter-mile drag races in 1955 on the 4,400-foot long runway at Fulton Airport. They held their first race on June 5, 1955. Races were held on a monthly basis, generally attracting over 100 entries at each race. The final drag race of the 1955 season was held on September 18, billed as the state championship race. They awarded trophies in 26 classes. On June 23-24, 1956, a two-day NHRA regional championship was held at the airport.
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June 5, 1955

Glen Cove "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1953-54

The Road Panthers car club conducted drag races on a 2/10 mile course on a paved side street near the high school football field in Glen Cove on Long Island. It was near the Knott Estate and was sponsored by the Long Island Hot Rod Association. Photographs and an article about this racing were published in Hot Rod Magazine, (July 1953): 52-53, 73-74.
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Hudson Falls "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1960
 
In October 1959, the Kingsbury zoning board approved a request from the National Safety Association and the Hudson Falls Auto Safety Club to build a quarter-mile drag strip. The paved strip was to measure 30 feet wide by a quarter mile long. There was to be an additional quarter mile of clay surface for shut-down. Financing was to come from the club, individuals, and business ads in the drag strip printed program. In February 1960, Lawrence LaSalle was awarded the contract to build the strip. It was to be located off Vaughn Road in Hudson Falls. They planned to begin construction in a few weeks. Work crews from the car club began clearing the strip on February 20. Despite this enthusiastic beginning, research was unable to uncover whether this drag strip was ever built or operated.

 
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Huntington "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1954-55
 
The Huntington Cam Jammers, sponsored by the Huntington Police Department, conducted a drag race on a quarter-mile section of East Neck Road in Melville on October 24, 1954. It was the first event of its kind and trophies were awarded. It was reported that a large crowd was on hand to watch the 23 competing cars.  Clubs participating included the Huntington Station Piston Poppers, Northport Road Runners, and the Dix Hills Road Comets. One racer, with a supercharged engine, attained 100 MPH. On August 14, 1955, NHRA's Safety Safari was in attendance and helped conduct a race.

 
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Islip Speedway Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1961-72
 
Larry Mendelsohn, the speedway promoter, ran 1/8th-mile drag races behind the speedway. Races first started there in mid-June 1961. They ran on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. They generally drew about 150 racers. Trophies were awarded to class winners and jackets to top eliminators.  It sported a flag starter, short shut-down area, and dirt return road. The drag strip ran from the back edge of the property down between the concession stands and the oval track. There were no concessions at the drags! The finish line of the 1/8th-mile strip ended at the oval racers' pit entrance and the shut down area ran out into the dirt parking lot. The .2-mile oval track operated from 1947 to 1984. In 1962 a figure-8 track was built utilizing the existing oval, which proved very popular. Islip Speedway is the birthplace of the  demolition derby, holding the first such event in the world in 1958.

 
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Islip Speedway drag racing, 1966, by Arlen Busch, 1:45 minutes, no sound/music only

Jacksons Dragway/King's Dragway (South Butler)

  • Years of Operation: 1959-63, 1966-77
 
Drag racing began as a hobby for Paul Jackson, a resident of rural South Butler. In 1955, Jackson won the New York State Championships with his drag car. He then took his car to Kansas City for that year's NHRA national championships. After again winning the New York drag championships in 1958, he retired from racing.  At age 35, with a wife and family, he had at various times operated a car dealership, a bar and grill, service stations, and other businesses. But he was drawn back to his love of drag racing and set out to build a drag strip in his home town. Located east of the center of town, he leased a sandy old farm and put $30,000 into building a strip for drag racing. He spread a foot of gravel over the sand for a base over which he laid tons of macadam. After a lot of hard work, the 1/4-mile drag strip opened on June 7, 1959. There were two quarter-mile black-top lanes separated by a grass median and a shutdown area of about 1/8th-mile. During 1959, he ran about twenty racing dates and averaged about 120 entries at each race. By 1961, he was drawing about 300 race cars to each Sunday race, many coming from Rochester, Buffalo, and  other distant cities. The drag strip was affiliated with NASCAR. From the beginning he only awarded trophies, not cash prizes, but this changed later in 1961 when he began awarding modest cash prizes for various top speed marks in a few classes.  He geared his operation to the amateur racer, and was dead against catering to drivers who have to be paid to come. Jackson also supported powder puff racing, sometimes having as many as 18 classes for the ladies. With the profitability of his strip in South Butler, in April 1961, Jackson took over running drag strips in Oswego and Dunkirk. He turned what started as a hobby into a profession. Jackson had fun with his track. On May 14, 1961, he entertained 2,400 spectators with a greased pig contest in addition to the regular racing.  In April 1962, a new 60-foot cement starting line pad was installed to improve traction. They also intended to lay new asphalt down in 1962 when the weather warmed up and to lengthen and improve the shut-down area. In 1963, the strip also ran on Friday nights during the summer in addition to the usual Sunday racing. Cash prizes augmented the trophy awards. According to a good  history compiled by Mark Braccio , an announcer in the strip's later years, major personal problems caused Jackson to suspend operation of the track after about 1964. He sold the strip to Jake King, who opened the track as King's Dragway in 1966. In the mid-1970s, for a number of reasons, the track began running 1/8th-mile drag races. In 2009 and 2010, the Iron Horsemen held their annual motorcycle drag races on this strip. Newspaper ads said the name of the strip at that time was Warrick's Drag Strip. The track is located on the north side of the Butler-Conquest Road about 3/4 mile east of that road's intersection with Highway 89 in the hamlet of South Butler. In some news reports, the track was reported as being in Savannah, but South Butler is just north of Savannah. In 1963, Jackson's strip was part of a coalition of drag strips in New York called the Timing Association of North America (TANA). The other strips (all speedway ovals except Lancaster) in the association included Speedland at Canandaigua, Lancaster, Oswego, and Milray.
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1959
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April 9, 1967
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of drag racing on the old strip in South Butler, 2007, 57 seconds

Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1961-present
 
The Lancaster Speedway, a half-mile dirt oval track on Gunville Road, opened in 1959. The Speedway built a 1/8th-mile paved drag strip just adjacent to the speedway on the west side in 1961. The first race was held on August 17, 1961. In 1963, Lancaster Speedway's dragway was part of a coalition of drag strips in New York called the Timing Association of North America (TANA). The other strips (all speedway ovals except Jackson's in South Butler) in the association included Speedland at Canandaigua, Jackson's, Oswego, and Milray. On August 7, 1975, 22 people were injured when a recently-built grandstand at the speedway collapsed during eliminations at a Thursday-night drag race. Repairs were made and racing resumed after about a week. On Sunday night, August 17, 1975, 18-year-old David Ayers was killed when he lost control of his Mustang convertible and crashed. The  dragway has been sanctioned by IHRA since 2000.

 
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Lancaster Speedway drag racing, 1992, pan to 2:45 mark for drag racing, 9 minutes

Lebanon Valley Speedway/Dragway (West Lebanon)

  • Years of Operation: 1963-present
 
This half-mile high-banked oval track, operated by Lou and Harry Spanier, was located on Route 20 in West Lebanon (halfway between Albany and Pittsfield).  In July 1962, newspapers reported that the speedway was building a $125,000 quarter-mile drag strip in back of its oval track. It was a mile long and sixty feet wide.  The drag strip purportedly opened for racing on August 18, 1963 under NHRA sanction. In 1964 they held drag races every Sunday except the first Sunday of the month. A new concession building was built at the dragway and the timing tower was covered with black and white glass blocks. In 1965 they held drag races every Sunday, no exception. On July 18, 1965, Don Garlits match-raced against A&B Speed Shop, the acclaimed fastest unblown fuel dragster in the country. On Labor Day, September 6, 1965, Daniel Rini, from West Ontario, Canada, was attempting to break the track record in his dragster when his engine exploded. Oil flew in his face, while going 190 MPH. He flew off the end of the track and wound up in a small stream, inches deep without injury. There were 1,500 spectators. The strip was first sanctioned by NHRA in 1966 and it operates under that sanction today as a quarter-mile strip.

 
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125171013
July 18, 1965
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Lebanon Valley Dragway in 1988, 23 minutes
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Lebanon Valley Dragway, early 1960s, go to 13:55 minute mark of clip, finished at 21:04 minute mark

Milray Speedway/Dragway (Fulton)

  • Years of Operation: 1961-63
 
A 1/3-mile dirt oval was built south of Fulton on Route 57. A 1/8th-mile drag strip was built adjacent to the oval on its south side. The strip opened for racing on July 9, 1961. It was a two-lane strip sporting 177-foot concrete launch pads before the asphalt paving. Drag races were conducted  on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons in 1962. On July 22, 1962, Roger Hughes of Johnson City took top eliminator in his A/A. In 1963, drag races were held on Wednesday  and Saturday nights. On July 6, 1963, Don Fessinger of Solvay took top eliminator. Later in the summer, they began racing on both Tuesday and Saturday nights. The 108-acre racing complex was offered for sale in 1964. The  speedway was located south of Fulton on Route 57. It was eight miles north of Three Rivers.

 
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125171013
1962

Monroe County Fairgrounds (Spencerport)

  • Years of Operation: 1958-68
 
Drag races were conducted at the fairgrounds in Spencerport at least as early as July 1958 on Wednesdays and/or Saturday nights weekly. Ron Smith of Phelps was appointed strip manager by NASCAR in 1958. The racing attracted about 150 cars each week. Bill Rodgers and Ed Sarazyn were frequent winners in 1958. Directions to get to the strip in the fairgrounds was gained by entering Northhampton Park from Colby Street onto Hubbell Road. It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .

 
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Montgomery Airstrip

  • Years of Operation: 1956-60
 
The Osborn-Fitzsimmons American Legion Post and NASCAR sponsored a quarter-mile drag strip on the concrete-surfaced 3,500-foot runway of this circa 1943 Air Force auxiliary airfield. On July 27, 1958, over 1,000 people paid 90 cents admission to watch 77 cars race. Located on Route 84, the races were conducted weekly by the Garden State Hot Rod Association. On October 18, 1958, the American Legion sponsored an exhibition race featuring Don Garlits. He set a new world's E.T. record with an 8.36 second pass, with a speed of 160.71 MPH. In July 1959, strip officials purchased new timing equipment and had the track surveyed so any future records could be recognized. In the spring 1960, neighboring residents petitioned that the weekly races be stopped, contending they were a nuisance. The American Legion argued that monies gained from the racing benefited charities and the racing helped the local economy. On June 26, 1960, Tommy Ivo turned 165.71 MPH in 9.55 seconds in his twin-engined Buick dragster. The following week at what was called the Grand Drag Nationals, Ivo took top eliminator running 165.74 MPH in 9.37 seconds. Joe Jacomo of Chester, Pennsylvania, set a new national record in B/MR in his Fiat with a run of 114.5 MPH in 11.02 seconds.  On August 14, 1960, the final race was run at the airport. Stewart Air Force Base cancelled its contract with the Legion Post.  The Air Force then turned over ownership to Orange County, specifying that it must be used as a public airport. It remains Orange County Airport to this day. During its five years, the Post had netted between $200 and $700 a week, most of which went to charities. It was a disappointment to the Post to end the racing.
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New York National Speedway (Center Moriches, L.I.)

  • Years of Operation: 1966-80
 
Gilbert Kohn spent $800,000 to build this strip, opening on March 20, 1966. The strip ran from south to north through what today is the Greenwood Village active adult community. Very little of the old strip is left except the staging area. The first big race was held on April 17, 1966. Don Prudhomme faced Don Garlits in a best-of-three match race. One old timer had fond memories of going to races at National:  "I spent many Sundays at New York National in the late sixties, early seventies. Mom used to drop off me and a friend early in the morning and pick us up late in the afternoon. Normal admission was $3.75 and went up to $6.00 when the AHRA Springnationals rolled in in May  . . . . Most weekends were funny car match racing which was advertised ad nauseam for the week prior on all the major radio stations. Remember the 'Goody Booth' for souvenirs and the crappy hot dogs and fries they sold. Also I was there when Bruce Larson set a new national low ET of 7.15 in his '67 Chevelle. These were the days when rails were still push started. Loved the smell of nitro. I remember wheelstanders "Hemi Under Glass" and "'Lil Red Wagon" running against each other. They used to turn around at the end of the track and come back the other way {towards the starting line} wheels up. A few years later that ended when another wheelstander did that and lost control, crashing through a fence behind the starting line killing at least one {maybe more} spectators crossing over to the pit side. Remember loads of muscle cars heading down Sunrise Highway with slicks in the backseats and toolboxes in the trunk heading to the track those Sunday mornings. I even got to run my cousin's '67 396 Chevelle down the track at 16 without even having a drivers license yet. Nobody checked. Best times of my life!" Opening day in 1967 attracted 15,000 spectators to see 1,320 entries compete! On August 18, 1968, twelve thousand people were watching a big AHRA race. An exhibition pickup truck crashed through a guardrail and two fences, then careened into a crowd, injuring about thirteen people including a track official. One of the injured had to have his legs amputated.  From its start the track was sanctioned by AHRA. In the early 1970s, Kohn began saying his track was a part of the United Hot Rod Association, but that organization was Kohn's own concoction. Kohn stopped operating the track in the very late 1970s, leasing it to a fellow who ran it for a short while under NHRA sanction.
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April 3, 1966
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CLICK HERE to listen to old commercial radio spot for New York National Speedway, 30 seconds
April 24, 1966
CLICK HERE to see video footage of New York National Speedway May 1969, 16:08 minutes, no sound/music only
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Suffolk County/Westhampton Raceway, produced by James Amos, go to 2:05 mark to  end of video for footage of New York National

New York State Fairgrounds ​(Syracuse)

  • Years of Operation: 1959
 
After lengthy discussions, approval to hold legal drag racing in the Syracuse area was finally achieved. The first race was held on July 19, 1959, on a parking lot at the fairgrounds. The 1/8th-mile drag racing was sponsored by the Empire State Timing Associaiton and sanctioned by NHRA. There were 14 classes.
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Niagara Raceway Park

  • Years of Operation: 1961-74
 
This NHRA-sanctioned track, which opened on June 18, 1961, was located on the north side of the Niagaa Falls Airport. June 18 and June 25 were pre-openng dates, but the grand opening was on July 2, 1961. Jerry Hamman was the track operator. Races were held weekly on Sundays (its radio spots containing the drawn-out words "Sundaaaayyyyy Niagara"). The track also was called Niagara International Raceway.
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August 18, 1963
CLICK HERE to old commercial WKBW radio spot for Niagara Drag Strip, 34 seconds 
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Niagara Drag Strip, 1969, 5 minutes, no sound

North Hudson Dragway

  • Years of Operation:   ca. 1962-ca. 1969?
 
Documentation about the beginning (or ending) of this 1/8th-mile drag strip is sparse. An early newspaper mention refers to a non-fatal accident at the strip. Mark Keilen, age 20 of Latham, suffered a concussion and broken arm when his car rolled over several times at a race on September 20, 1964. In July 1966, the track held a 2-day NASCAR-sanctioned meet. Jon Button set a national mark in his class with 6.71 ET and 121.46 MPH. On three different dates in 1969, the track featured a Super Stock "spectacular," comprising racers who joined together in a circuit. It was called Adirondack Drag Strip in 1968 when it was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip . Research was unable to uncover any information after 1969. A 1976 topo map shows an airfield in the location of the old drag strip.
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September 21, 1969
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Frontier Town Airpark, on site of old drag strip, 1976 topo map

Northport "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation:   1955-56
 
The Long Island Hot Rod Association built a strip on land donated to them by J. Rich Steers, owner of the Steers Sand and Gravel Works. The races were held off of Ocean Avenue at Steers Gravel Pit, the first races being held possibly in June 1955. The first races that the public was encouraged to attend happened on September 11, 1955. The races were being held every other Sunday.
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Ontario County Fairgrounds (Canandaigua)

  • Years of Operation: 1958-68
 
Drag races were conducted on an 1/8th-mile strip at the Canandaigua fairgrounds by the Central New York Speedway under NASCAR supervision. The first race was held on an all-dirt track in August 1958. Ron Smith of Phelps won top eliminator in his 1957 Corvette with a time of 9.14 seconds at 66 MPH. The second Tuesday night drag event was held on September 2, 1958. However cool weather experienced at that race caused promoters to shift racing thereafter to Sundays. Jack Morley was the drag strip manager. They had laid down an asphalt starting area by the second race. Rosemarie Genusso, as of mid-1961, held the track record at 78.44 MPH. She was a 19-year-old racer from Rochester, and drove her father's 1960 Corvette. On July 4, 1962, 1,800 spectators watched a record turn-out of 368 entries compete. In 1962, Cliff Crandall set a track mark of 91.68 MPH in his B roadster. Higher speeds were getting to be a concern as the shutdown area was very short, with a turn near the end. An article discussing these increasing speeds in the Canandaigua Daily Messenger asked, "Where will it all end?" There was a real concern with safety. The first regional 1/8th-mile drag championships were held on the night of August 15, 1962. 400 cars entered to compete before 1,800 spectators. Erwin Hipp of Rochester took top elimiinator in his C/G Ford coupe, clocking 80.89 MPH. In 1963, they resurfaced the starting pad and added an additional 40 feet to it.  In 1963-65, it was known as Speedland. Stu Hayes was the general manager. He made sure that they "graded the track and ironed out the kinks until it is razor sharp." The Timing Association of North America (TANA) was the governing body of Speedland and several other strips in New York. It was not uncommon for a race day in 1967 to attract over 300 entries. It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .
 
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Oswego Speedway

  • Years of Operation: 1961-67
 
Built in 1951, the speedway was a paved 5/8-mile banked oval track. Drag racing demonstrations were first held at the speedway in 1961. On Saturday night, July 7 and on August 25, 1962, the Empire State Racing Association put on a demonstration of drag racing in front of the grandstand. They did the same on several other occasions in each year between 1963 and 1967, too.
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July 7, 1962

Pennellville Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1954, 1958

The Pennellville strip was a quarter-mile scraped clay drag strip.  On August 1, 1954, they held the Tri-State Regional Championship, with 175 entries from five states and Canada.  Five officials from NHRA, that sanctioned the event, assisted with inspection and classification of the cars.  The race was sponsored by the Valley Drivers Association and the Empire State Timing Association. Another race was held on September 12 and the final race of the 1954 season on October 24. In 1958, the strip opened in late July, running every Sunday.
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September 12, 1954

Plattsburgh Air Force Base

  • Years of Operation: 1958

A drag race was held on the main 11,000-foot runway on August 17, 1958. It was an NHRA supervised event for Air Force drivers and racers from Canada, New England, and New York. No admission was charged for spectators, but racers paid a $2 entry fee. The base had an auto club called the Dimmers. Thirty trophies were awarded to winners.
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Pulaski Airpark

  • Years of Operation: 1954

The Empire State Timing Association conducted its opening drag race on June 20, 1954, according to information in a 1954 issue of Hot Rod Magazine.  The exact location of the airpark is not known, and more research is needed.
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Rochester "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1958
 
In early August 1958, 137 cars entered a drag race in or near Rochester. More research is needed.

 
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Roosevelt Raceway (Long Island)

  • Years of Operation: 1962

This celebrated harness racing track laid down a new paved 1/8th-mile drag strip on one of its parking lots. They held weekly Sunday races that were electronically timed  in 1962. The last race of the season attracted 6,500 spectators to watch 350 cars compete.
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Sampson Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1957

In late May 1957, it was reported that Sampson Air Force Base airstrip was being turned into a drag strip sanctioned by the Empire State Timing Association. They also were affiliated with the NHRA. With the end of the Korean War and military budget cutbacks, the air force base was placed on standby status in late 1956.  It was located on the east shore of Seneca Lake, southwest of Geneva. On June 9, 1957, Doug Hughson of Canandaigua took A/S class in his 1957 Chevy with a speed of 88.56 MPH. The majority of the former air force base is today mostly abandoned. Some of it has been converted to a state park, while other parts have been converted to various uses. The air strip, built about 1953, is still there and has been lately used for high-speed police pursuit training.
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South Glens Falls Dragway (Moreau)

  • Years of Operation: 1962-78

The 1/8th-mile track opened at least in 1962, under NASCAR sanction. It lost that sanction purportedly because the dragway never followed through on the promised improvements. The track had divided racing lanes and a short shutdown area. The track used railroad ties with wire cables running through them for guardrails. Most of the pit area was dirt-surfaced, with some small grassy area near the concessions. At one meet in 1963, Art Arfons made three runs over 190 MPH in  his "Green Monster" jet dragster. On Sunday, October 6, 1963, the 2nd annual Fall Championship NASCAR Drag Races were held. The was the final race of the 1963 season. Bud Francis in the Bowen-Francis dragster garnered top eliminator with a 9.90 ET at 123.28 MPH. On May 16, 1965, the track featured a match race between Dave Strickler and the Yankee Peddler factory experimental cars. On June 8, 1969, 25-year-old George Brimmer, from Cambridge, was killed duirng time trials. He was unable to bring his Chevy II to a stop and rolled over several times, fracturing his skull.  In 1975, the drag strip requested permission from the town of Moreau to change it drag race night from Wednesday to Friday. This request must have been denied because Wednesday night racing was still the only week-day racing happening in 1978.  Regular racing was held every Sunday that year. It was about this time that residents in encroaching homes began voicing concerns about the noise. Newspapers reported that the owner of the land in 1977 was Joseph Secora who leased the property to Fred Bulmer for the racing. In 1978, snowmobile drag races were held on the drag strip. In April 1979, John W. Crosse, Sr., sought permission from the town to conduct races at the strip, which he had renamed C&S Drag Strip. He wanted to open the strip in early May, but the city said he had to make repairs on the announcing platform, bleachers, and fences before they would grant a permit. Racing was halted at the strip by the government. They alleged that PCB-contaminated waste oil from the nearby General Electric plant had been spread on the dirt return lane and area bordering the race track between 1961 and 1964. The track put oil on the ground to control the dust. Many old-timers think the track's closing was more politically- than environmentally-motivated. Every town and highway in the area used the free GE oil, but none of them have had to be cleaned up. And visitors in recent years report that the oil-soaked ground is still evident at the dragway site. Only a few years after the track closed, the area was used as a public park. In 1990, GE agreed to pay for the cost of clean up at the 40-acre site.
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April 12, 1964
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South Glen Falls Dragway, 1968 topo map
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South Glen Falls Dragway, 1964 aerial photo
CLICK HERE to see video of vintage photos of South Glens Falls Drag Strip, 4 minutes

Spencer Speedway (Williamson)

  • Years of Operation: 1959-80, 1999-present

A 1/10th-mile paved drag strip operated in front of the grandstand straightaway. The first drag races started on Tuesday, August 11, 1959. Races were held every Tuesday during that opening season. Phil Palacotti was named the drag strip manager. This strip complemented a half-mile dirt oval track that opened in 1955, built by Del, Merle, and Walt Spencer. In 1962, they ran on Saturday nights.  The 1964 drag racing season opened on the Spencer track on May 2. Delbert Spencer promoted the drag races and Gordie Uhl of Canandaigua was the head official. They held drag races every Saturday and Tuesday night. The drag races in 1968 started on May 18. Drag racing continued after 1968, but documentation is spotty. Ads in 1980 stated that drag races were held every Saturday night. Todd Hartman bought the racing oval from the Spencers and changed its name to Williamson Speedway. In 1994, Hartman's construction firm went bankrupt. To prevent the speedway from going into bankruptcy, he transferred ownership to his brother-in-law, Jeff Tome. However Tome's finances and lack of knowledge about racing promotion caused him to file for bankruptcy in 1995.  The Spencers, who held the mortgage on the speedway, filed the necessary papers to reacquire it. They asked Jim Vollertsen, who had run the track for them for five years in the 1970s, to help them get the track back on its feet. They changed the name back to Spencer Speedway. In 1996, newspapers reported that Vollertsen planned on enlarging the oval track's main straight-away drag strip from 1/10th-mile to 1/8th-mile for NHRA-sanctioned drag racing on Saturday nights. That apparently happened, probably beginning in about 1999, and at least through 2006, the year the Spencers sold the track to John White. White assured racers that he intended to keep the drag racing program. The 2015 schedule of weekly drag races showed sanction by NHRA.
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1964
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1980
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Spencer Speedway drag race, July 4, 2012, 8 minutes

Syracuse "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1952

Drag races were scheduled to be held on a 9/10th-mile stretch of paving north of Hancock Field at Taft and South Bay Roads. The Valley Drivers Association, MG Club, and Bent Rods Club banded together to conduct the inaugural race slated for September 13, 1952. They anticipated there would be 300 cars and 2000 spectators. The first race had been scheduled for mid-July, but had to be postponed.
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Tioga Motorsports Park ​​(Owego)

  • Years of Operation: 1990s

Drag races were held on the front straight of Tioga Motorsports Park, an oval track in operation from 1992 to 2005. All trace of the old track has been obliterated by gravel mining. See also Duffek's Dragway (above).
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The layout of the oval track is evident in this 2002 aerial photo

Tri-Cities Drag-Way (Endicott)

  • Years of Operation: 1961-71
 
Bob and Sallie Connelly owned and operated the Tri-Cities Drag-Way, a drag strip at the Tri-Cities airport.  The first race, in 1961, was sanctioned by the Timing Association of North America (TANA). It was run under portable lighting and headlights.  The race didn't get over until 2 AM. Starting in 1962, NHRA sanctioned the races, which were held Saturday evenings from May through October. In 1964, the track  eliminated the flagman and replaced him with a traffic light. Thousands attended the races every week and watched big-name racers like Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, the "Backup Pickup," "Lime Fire," and the "Hurst Hemi Under Glass." Bob Connelly managed Tri-Cities Dragway at least by 1967.
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CLICK HERE to see promotional clip of 2011 Tri-Cities Dragway 50th Anniversary Reunion video, filmed by Jim Amos, pan to the 3:12 minute mark to see original video footage of Tri-Cities racing in 1960s, 10:44 minutes

Victory Speedway (Middletown)

  • Years of Operation: 1961
 
Drag races were held at the Orange County Fairgrounds speedway each Sunday in 1961. The season's first race was held on April 16. The short-lived experiment ended on June 4, 1961. The reason given was that drag racing would not be held until a new track could be constructed. That did not happen.
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1961

Utica-Rome Dragway (Vernon)

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1965-78

The quarter-mile paved oval track was built in 1961 by Joe Lesik. He ran it for three years before selling to Dick Waterman. Waterman operated it for fifteen years, running the oval on Sunday nights and operating a successful Saturday night drag strip program on a separate strip that he built outside the oval. In 1979, Waterman sold the track to Cliff Baker, a retired school superintendent, who tore up the paved oval track and replaced it with a 5/8th-mile clay track. The drag strip ended up being a casualty of all his changes. He had to cut four hundred feet off the drag strip and didn't have the money to rebuild the drag strip. He had hoped to hoped to have added a 100-foot long concrete starting pad and go to Thursday night drag racing, but that never got beyond the dreaming stage.  But all of Baker's changes were very costly and he quickly got into serious financial difficulties. He had big plans in 1979, but all his changes put the nail in the coffin for the drag strip. Newspapers in 1981 advertised a sealed bid sale of the property.
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1965
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Utica-Rome Dragway, 1970, 4:58 minutes

Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course

  • Years of Operation: 1957-58

On July 1, 1957, Watkins Glen hosted the first in a series of eight quarter-mile drag races sanctioned by NASCAR on its straight-away.  A track record of 103.333 MPH was set at that meet. On July 14, they planned on having 30 classes and expected a field of 100 entries. Another drag race was held on August 25, 1957. John Nellis of Geneva was appointed strip manager by NASCAR in 1958. In 1969, plans were announced for building a top-flight drag strip, called Glen Drag-way, adjacent to the grand prix track that would open in 1970. It did not come to pass.
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Westhampton Raceway/Long Island Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1953-2004

It originally opened as a dirt drag strip, but the quarter-mile was paved with asphalt in 1955, retaining dirt in the shutdown area. The shutdown area was paved in the mid- to late-1950s. It was sanctioned by the Automobile Timing Association of America in 1956.  In 1958, the drag strip ran afoul of Southhampton's Blue Laws, in holding races on Sunday and charging admission. Bernard Corrigan, Edward J. Eaton, John Caricola, and John A. Sutherland, officers of the raceway, were arrested. However a grand jury refused to indict them. It changed names several times. It retained the Westhampton Raceway name through about 1969, then was briefly called Suffolk County Raceway. The Suffolk County Raceway was listed in the March 1969 issue of Hot Rod as operating under NHRA sanction. Gary Richard was the track manager then. In the 1980s it was called Hampton Raceway. From 1991-96 it was Long Island Dragway and finally finished as Long Island Motorsports Park. The track was located a short distance east of the intersection of Old Country Road and 5th Avenue in Westhampton. Any remnant of the old strip has been scraped away.
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Westhampton Raceway, 1966 aerial photo
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Westhampton Raceway, ca. 1967, 2 minutes, no sound/only music
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Suffolk County/Westhampton Raceway, produced by James Amos, go to 0:55 mark with footage ending ag 2:05 mark