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New Mexico
Drag Strips

Albuquerque Dragway, George Brazil's dragster (near car), circa 1964. Photographer unknown

Alamogordo

  • Holloman Air Force Base, 1981-82
 
I raced my Honda 750F and '68 GTO back in '81 to '82. I remember Morris Calkins running the show, doing things such as tech inspection and lots others. Those were some of the happiest times of my life.
Matt Collard

Albuquerque

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  • Albuquerque Dragway, 1964-74
 
I was one of the members that built the track.  I wrote a book, The History Of Albuquerque Dragway.  It has the start on Eubank in the early 1960's and ends in 1974 when the bonds were paid off. I wrote the book at the request of the Albuquerque Public Library as the 50th anniversary was coming up. It is 133 pages with 275 pictures mostly color. A lot of them are on King Nitro. I had 10 copies done for $40.00 each. I sold them for $40.00 each. I kept some for my 3 children. I had requests for 10 more, then 10 more and on to over 500 sold. Bob Frey bought one and said it was excellent. He wished more dragstrips had done that. I just had 10 more made because I had 2 sold already.
Dale Schafer
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Winner's jacket, Albuquerque Dragway. Courtesy of Dale Schafer
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Albuquerque Dragway. Courtesy of Dale Schafer
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  • Eubank Boulevard, 1959-61
 
I went to races on Eubank in 1959, '60, and '61. These photos are from negatives from four different persons. Organized racing on Eubank stopped in 1958. Illegal drags went on days and nights after that until November 1961 whan an association called the Albuquerque Drag Association, comprising of four members--myself, Dick Pool, Steve Smucher, and Tom Volle. We wanted a dragstrip. We thought the New Mexico Timing Association was not pushing hard enough. Dick Pool was an associate of the Sheriff's departmant. He got city permission to run a legal drag race on Eubank on a Sunday in November. I still have a poster. We had about 60 cars, no clocks, a flagman, and a person who was a finish-line judge. Admission was 50 cents and run your car for free. Dave LaNear, a member of the New Mexico Timing Association, helped us by classifying the cars. We had stock and street eliminator's only. Trophies were donated. After ticket and Porta Potties for expenses, we cleared 800.00 dollars. Then Dave LaNear talked us into going to a N.M.T.A. meeting. After seeing that they were a non-profit corporation and we under NHRA sanction, the four of us voted to join the N.M.T.A. That was when the Timing Association took off. Dave LaNear was voted president and I was vice president. We went to work getting things done.  Albuquerque Drag Association put our $800.00 in N.M.T.A. which had almost nothing. The illegal drag racing contiued for years after with several fatalites. I Have all this and more in my book the History of Albuquerque Dragway.
Dale Schafer
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Eubank Boulevard SE. Courtesy of Dale Schafer
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  • Menaul Truck Bypass/Eubank Boulevard, 1952-63
 
   
One night while I was playing baseball in 1952 at the Height Community Canter south of Coal Avenue and west of Yale Avenue in Albuquerque. There was a poster at the baseball field about cars enthusiasts which were going to have a meeting on Wednesday night at 7:30 PM. I went to the meetings when I wasn’t playing baseball. This was the ACME [Albuquerque Competition Motor Enthusiasts] and the name was changed to NMTA [New Mexico Timing Association]. The Association started to meet every Wednesday night at 7:30 PM at the Height Community Center. The meeting was to improve the organization and conducting drag races and hope to have them every week on Sunday. The Association wanted to have drag racing in Albuquerque. Then the Association was made up of many hot rod car clubs that wanted the sport of drag racing and hot rodding in Albuquerque. Some of the car clubs were: The Rebels, The Road Queens, The Swanks, The Lead Sleds, The Valve Lifters, The Pipers, The Drag Lynx, The Satans, The Road Runners, The Shaufers, The Ram Motor Club, The Shortimers, The Turtles, The Chariots and The Second Gear Club. There were many more hot rod clubs but I can’t remember all the names. I was one of the original members of the Second Gear Club that started in 1952. At these meetings the New Mexico Timing Association was trying to work with the City of Albuquerque to have a place to hold drag racing. After many meetings with the City it was decided to let the NMTA hold some drag races at the Menaul Truck Bypass that was to run on every other Sunday. The City required the NMTA to have a permit to run any drag races. The City  gave the NMTA the permit to hold drag races at the Menaul Truck Bypass that ran from Central Avenue to Eubank Blvd. The City will supply a police officer to control the traffic, block off the Menaul Truck Bypass at Central Avenue and at Eubank Blvd. This officer also was there to supervise the races and the safety of the spectators and racers. The City required the NMTA to have inspections of each car that was going to run. The entry fee was one dollar per car and the money was to buy trophies for class winners. Later the NMTA asked racers if the inspection fee would be at two dollars and most of them said no. The NMTA said that if they had more money they could buy better trophies and buy some better timing equipment. The winners of the races were asked to bring their trophies back but not all would give them back. The New Mexico Timing Association ran the drag races at the Menaul Truck Bypass in 1952 and 1953 before the City of Albuquerque wanted the drags to be run at Eubank Blvd, south of Central Avenue in 1954 which was by the Sandia Base east gate. The City wanted to get the big oil trucks back out of the downtown area on the Sunday when there were drag races. The NMTA agreed to move to the new location on Eubank Blvd. The big oil trucks were hauling oil equipment from the Hobbs area to Farmington area where there were new oil wells being developed. The New Mexico Timing Association expressed their thanks to the Albuquerque Police Chief Paul Shaver and the Police Department for their co-operation during the 1952 and 1953 race seasons at the Menaul Truck Bypass. The City required that there will be a police officer at Eubank Blvd. The officer was to block off Eubank Blvd. at the end of Sandia Base and to supervise the races and the safety of the spectators and racers which was the same things he did at the Menaul Truck Bypass. But the officer only came a few times as the City Police department was happy about what was going on at Eubank Blvd.  When I joined the New Mexico Timing Association was in 1952 as I was nineteen years old. I was one of the members that wanted the NMTA to run the safety rules and classes that National Hot Rod Association had in their rule books. The City of Albuquerque was in favor of using the NHRA rules to be enforced at the drags. This helped anyone from Albuquerque when they wanted to run their car at any NHRA drag strip and would know what class they would be running. Thus by using NHRA rule books, the City and the NMTA future meetings with the city were much better. The City finally turned the project over to the City Park Board. The only thing by this change, the Park Board and NMTA almost started all over again. The NMTA general membership went to various meeting with the Park Board over the years trying to get a drag strip and the drag racing off the streets. I remember and think that Kenny Boffin and Chuck Lamb held offices of the NMTA and I was the Treasurer for a while and when this was, I’m not sure when or what year, but the NMTA was running on Eubank Blvd. There were many members that held an office at one time or another. The best thing was that the NMTA made progress with the City over the years. I remember going to meetings at the Height Community Center, City Hall and at some churches. The NMTA had a meeting with the City at the University of New Mexico and NHRA knew that NMTA was trying to get a drag strip in Albuquerque. The NHRA sent Tex Smith to talk with the city officials and the members of NMTA to tell them about the safety and rules of drag racing. I don’t remember who contacted NHRA to have Tex come and talk with the city. The city officials that was at the meeting was happy about what they heard and relayed the information to the city leaders. Many times the NMTA came up with plans for the meeting with the City. If I remember right that one of the first meetings with the City was about 1952. From 1952 to 1963 there were many meetings that were dead ends with the City. There were a lot of time and effort put in at each meeting with the City to get something done and nothing was ever final as the City kept delaying the drag strip project. Over the years the NMTA worked with the City to get a better place to run the drags. After many meetings with the City, they finally let the NMTA move from the Menaul Truck Bypass to south Eubank Blvd. as the City wanted the oil trucks out of downtown. The first time the NMTA was to run on Eubank Blvd. was in 1954. The NMTA started to run drag races every other week at the new location on Eubank Blvd.  The NMTA was able to block off Eubank Blvd. at the end of the Sandia Base fence which was south of Central Avenue. The City supplied a Police officer again to supervise the races and safety of the racers and spectators and made sure that Eubank Blvd. was blocked off from local traffic. The racers and spectators used the dirt road [rut] that ran next to Eubank Blvd. to go to the drags and this dirt road was used by the racers as their return road to the pits.   When I was Treasurer of NMTA it was my job to buy the trophies and get the results and when the next drag race would be held in the Monday morning paper. The sports editor wasn’t much for racing of any kind which made it very hard to get the results in the paper. I think the sports editor's name was Carlos Salazar. It was very hard to get anything across to him but finally the editor was Leroy Beardman of the paper. He finally told Carlos to put the results and other items in the sports page of the paper. I found out that Grant Harvey, a student at University of New Mexico, was from Canada who liked drag racing and Carlos liked him so this also helped getting articles in the paper. These two names [Beardman and Harvey] were given to me by Dale Schafer. All I know is that whoever talked to the sports editor, but it helped. Now the sports editor came up with some of his rules which were the results had to be in by 5:00 PM on Sunday to get the results in the Monday morning paper or he might put the results in the next day’s paper. But more than anything he would not put anything in the paper if we were late with the results but sometimes he would put the results in the next day's paper if he wanted to.  Carlos Salazar was a very hard man to deal with as he was set in his own ways about sports he liked. The NMTA always had money problems so many of the officers and some members that had won races the last race would give their trophies back so they could be given at the next race winners. This went on for a year or so and this was usually at the Mneaul Truck Bypass. I remembered that I gave some of my first trophies back but how many I don’t remember. This helped to keep the costs down but you didn’t have to give your trophies back unless you wanted to do so. After a year or two the NMTA started to make some money and you didn’t have to give your trophies back as they were yours to keep. Now with the NMTA making better money they started to buy better trophies. When the NMTA started to run at Eubank Blvd. in 1954, I talked to the NMTA officials to have George Buffet run his food stand in his trailer to sell food, drinks and etc. on drag day. George gave the NMTA a share of his gross sales of what he sold that day which wasn’t much but it helped and we had some place to buy food. With this it helped the NMTA to make a little money to buy better trophies and whatever the NMTA needed. The NMTA brought the trophies from Judd Jewelers as he and his wife ran their car at the drags and he would help in buying the trophies as he could get them for about half price. With the extra money the NMTA was able to buy better equipment and a flag to start the racers. Bob Pegue built the timing equipment as he wanted to know his ET and MPH. Bob ran his motorcycle at the drags. Bob’s father owned the Standard gas station at the triangle intersection on Carlisle, Monte Vista and Central Avenue. In 1956 I owned a Mobil gas station on Eubank Blvd. north of Central Avenue. Eubank Blvd. south of my station was still a dirt road from where the Menaul Truck Bypass. I got a Mobil checker flag from Mobil Oil Company and I let the NMTA use the flag to start the racers at Eubank Blvd. I still have this Mobil Checker flag in one of my trophies cases. I remembered that when it came time that the NMTA finally was going to get some land from the City Park Board for one dollar per year. This was great news for all the drag racers in Albuquerque and in the state. The land was the property of the State of New Mexico that is a part of the University of New Mexico land south of the airport. The land was up from the state farm road and to get up to the land you have to climb the sandy hill or take the [rut] road around the end near the City Police Shooting Range. The land was about flat and didn’t need any big grading changes to be done but was very sandy. Some of the NMTA members went to survey the land and lay out where the drag strip should be. Dale Schafer and Dave La Near were there and I was one of the members that had some experience that knew something about surveying as I did some surveying while I worked at the U.S. Forest Service. After we did some surveying it was decided that the land was almost flat but very sandy and will not need much grading except to remove the sand. What I remembered the information was sketched on a paper that I think that Dale ended up with the sketch. The NMTA sold bonds to raise money to grade and pave the drag strip. The NMTA assigned someone to run the drag strip after all the grading and pavement was done. I don’t remember who the person was that the NMTA assigned someone to run the drags and where he came from and what experience he had running a drag strip I don’t know. Some of the people that ran the drag strip didn’t pay the payments to the bond holders. Then the NMTA had to come up with something to keep the bond holders happy. I don’t remember what was done and who worked on the problem. I was told that Dale Schafer did something to get the problem taken care of but I’m not sure and was the bond holders happy with what was done. The NMTA was listed at the State of New Mexico as a non-profit association but I don’t know whatever happened to this. There was a time that at the drags the Association name was changed to Albuquerque Timing Association [ATA] when the races were run on Eubank Blvd. and I think that was the new name or something like that. I don’t remember who, were the drag racers that wanted to change the name. This new name lasted for only a while as the City still wanted to have the NMTA running the drags on Eubank Blvd. The NMTA helped and led the development of all hot rodding events, controlled and safe drag racing in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico. All the NMTA members wanted the best for the communities. The reason the Association was good was because all the hot rod clubs wanted the same things for events and  drag racing in Albuquerque and the City liked what the NMTA was doing on any hot rod event and at the drags. To get the drag strip in Albuquerque it took many members to finally get the final from the City and get the grading and pavement on the drag strip done [1952 to 1963] – eleven long years of hard work on everyone's part of the NMTA and the hot rod clubs. All the hard work that was done by so many members a good job was finally done. Some of their jobs were large and some were small but all counted toward getting the drag strip in Albuquerque. There were many people that ran their cars and motorcycles at the different places that the New Mexico Timing Association ran and all the help that the people helped to run the drags. I’m attaching some of the pictures that I have and was given to me of the drags at the Menaul Truck Bypass and at Eubank Blvd. Also some pictures of the car shows at the New Mexico Fairgrounds to get people to be aware of Hot Rodding in New Mexico.
    
Roy “Moon” Mullin,
written in 2013, revised 2014-15, 
distributed at 2014 Albuquerque Drag Strip reunion, 
courtesy of Dale Schafer
  • Albuquerque Dragway
 
One Saturday, Billy Palladino and I had just taken the 468 Olds out of the “Underdog” and had installed a 301 injected Chevy junior  fueler  motor. Our intentions were to run it on 98% nitro as the junior fuelers ran at that time. We were getting outrun by the hemi’s.  We tow-barred it out to the track behind my Ford. We locked the gate behind us. We got it ready at the starting line. Our intentions were to start it and get the injection tuned for the track. Bill got in and put the B&M hydro in neutral. He said ok and I squirted some gasoline in the Hilborn injector tubes.  He spun the starter over and then hit the ignition switch. After a few seconds when it did not start, we stopped and pulled the plugs. They were wet, so he changed the pill in the return line. He got back in and I squirted gasoline again. He had forgotten to turn the ignition switch off. When he hit the starter there was an explosion. The chrome oil filler cap was about 500 feet up and headed for the airport. I could see it flashing in the sunlight as it headed up.  He turned the ignition off and hit the starter. Nothing. We took a breaker bar to the front balancer bolt. It would not budge. We pulled the plugs and tried the breaker bar again. Nothing moved.  We put the tow bar back on it and hauled back to his house. We then pulled the plugs again. It still would not turn over. We drained the oil and pulled the oil pan. When one cylinder fired, it hit so hard on the nitro that it smashed the upper bearing half so hard that it pressed the bearing material out into the counterweights. We pulled the bottom bearing cap, but it was locked up by the upper bearing. We then drained it, pulled the injector off and that one head. We used a long pry bar to pound the bottom of the piston up. Lucky it was a forged piston, because it took a lot of pounding by a rather large hammer. Never underestimate the power of nitro. When we finally got the piston and rod out (it went easy after we cleared the throws of the crankshaft). We then tried to press the piston pin out. It was a heavy duty fueler pin and was bent in the piston. We pulled the motor and had the crankshaft checked for cracks and straightness.  Billy got another piston, pin, rod, new bearing and rings and put it back together and got rid of it. If it had fired 2 cylinders it would have split that block. That was the end of nitro motors in “Underdog.” as I remember it.     
Dale Schafer
  • South Eubank Boulevard, early 1960s
 
It was a warm evening in the early '60s on South Eubank. It seems the racing got a little slow and there was a large, somewhat intoxicated airman who thought he would have some fun. He had taken off his shirt. I don’t know if he was trying for a Tarzan imitation or  what. He approached numerous spectators’ cars and inquired if anyone wanted to fight for fun. Everyone declined his invitation. Finally he approached the car Billy Palladino was in and Billy gave him a positive to his request of a little fight for fun. Billy got out of the car and squared off with the airman. My best guess is that the large fellow rushed Billy and took a swing at him. I am sure Billy side stepped and tackled the big fellow. Billy was an Albuquerque High letterman wrestler and football  lineman.  The airman landed flat on his back  in the sand.  He  tried to roll over and stand up, but a strong, compact  fellow was on his back.  I believe Billy rode him like a horse and pushed his head into the sand several times. Billy must  have grabbed him by the shoulders or the ankles because the big fellow was dragged face down in the sand two or three times. Each time he tried to get up a stronger, more compact  Billy, would forcefully return him to the ground. Soon the large fellow was winded and Billy let him get up on his hands and knees. Billy knelt down beside him with his arm around his neck and asked, “Are we having fun yet?"  The big fellow answered, “I have not had any fun since this started.”  Billy asked him, “Do you want to quit?" The big fellow replied emphatically, “Yes." I think the big fellow had some buddies there and they took him back  to the base for a  clean-up and some coffee. There is an old saying: “Be careful who you mess with.”     
Dale Schafer
  • Albuquerque Dragway, 1966
 
I had a match race with Eddie Taylor on September 11, 1966. Eddie Hill was racing at the same time. We were both on the poster. i would sure like to find a copy of that poster and I will make Eddie and I copies. Does anyone know if Eddie Taylor is still around? I think he was from somewhere around Albuquerque.
Jimmy Wilson
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This newspaper ad, which I found in the Sep. 9, 1966 issue of the Albuquerque Journal, probably was also made into a poster. If anyone has the poster form of this ad, please contact Drag Strip List. Courtesy of Mel Bashore

Hobbs

  • Charioteers Drag Strip, 1950s-1960s
 
On race day Sundays, I would drive from Big Spring, Texas, to race  my '50 Merc and '56 Chev. I saw Eddie Hill and Jack Moss do battle with Moss crashing, but walking away. I also saw James Butler's Rowdy Willys, Buddy Garner's Flop II,  Lee Christian's dragster, Kelly Chadwick, Herman Lawhon's Tweety Pie '33 Ford coupe (Caddy power, a Latham blower, and six carbs, of his own design)--of course, yellow in color with Tweety Pie on the doors, and Phil Parker's '57 Chevy coupe. I also ran at Tye, Texas (aka Abilene Texas), an, abandoned air strip, and Wall, Texas (aka San Angelo Texas). Eeach one raced on different Sundays. My hometown of Big Spring, Texas, had one of the first NHRA-approved drag strips run by the Big Spring Texas Timing Association. Howard DeSchazo was a great leader. Great memories. This was in the mid 50's to mid 60's.
Ron Carlson

Portales

  • Portales Drag Strip, 1968-72
 
I was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base from 1968 to 1972. I raced my '67 Mustang coupe at this track which was located on West Cherry Street in Portales, New Mexico. It is now all residential. I have looked at the area via satellite and it has completely changed in the last 45 years. Even the old municipal airport has been moved twice! I was very familiar with West Texas/Eastern New Mexico, as I was a pilot at Cannon AFB.  I believe Ronnie's Performance Center was a sponsor.  I don’t remember Ronnie's last name. Ronnie was in his late 20’s or early 30’s. He had two very accomplished mechanics by the names of Mel and Clyde, Ronnie was mainly responsible for getting the drag strip in Portales going. We used to race there once a month from April to October, as I recall. I did most of the work on my Mustang myself on weekends with help from some of my friends. Ronnie did an engine rebuild for me. We installed a General Kinetics hyd. cam and lifter set along with headers and straight pipes that dropped off for a quick race!! I had a 289 small block, Carter 2-barrel on a stock manifold, after-market Schiefer clutch, 4 speed and a 9” rear with 4:62’s gears. Couldn’t go very far but sure was great for hot rodding around town. I used to drive around town on Friday and Saturday nights. We called it "Dragging Main Street," listening to the “Wolfman Jack Show.” We had two radio stations in Clovis--KICA & KCLV, and at night the old AM would skip signal and sometimes we would pick-up WFAA in Dallas and some station in California. I did go to Amarillo Dragway a few times to run the quarter mile.   Portales drag strip was a 1/8 mile and we had a tree with ET only. The fastest car I remember was a Henry J that went off the end of the street and jumped the curb. We had tons of fun. I loved that Mustang and brought it back home to East Hartford, Connecticut, in 1972. I flat towed it on the back of my 63 Chevy P/U, that was fun!  I regret selling my Mustang to a kid that went out and totaled it, killing his friend in the process. Hindsight is 20/20.
Bill Bradshaw
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Bill Bradshaw's 1967 Mustang, Portales Drag Strip. Courtesy of Bill Bradshaw
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Ronnie's Performance Center, business card. Courtesy of Bill Bradshaw
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Bill Bradshaw's 1967 Mustang, Portales Drag Strip. Courtesy of Bill Bradshaw
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Bill Bradshaw's 1967 Mustang, Portales Drag Strip. Courtesy of Bill Bradshaw