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Drag Strip List

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NORTH CAROLINA

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Fairchild Field ​(Burlington) (1953)
North Wilkesboro Drag Strip/Wilkesboro Raceway Park (1955)
Barco Drag Strip/Maple Airstrip (Elizabeth City) (1955)
Laurinburg "Drag Strip" (1955)
Walker Heights Drag Strip (Gastonia) (1955)
Hudson Drag Strip (1956)
Emma Air Park (1957)
Dixie Drag Strip (1957)
Piedmont Drag Strip/Dragway (Julian) (1957)
Sanford "Drag Strip" (1957)
Burke-Caldwell Drag Strip (1958)
Concord Drag Strip (1958)
Easy Street Drag Strip (Newton Grove) (1958)
Hickory "Drag Strip" (1958)
Carrier Field/Owen Airport (Asheville) (1959)
Charlotte Fairgrounds Drag Strip (1959)
Dixie Classic Fairgrounds (Winston-Salem) (1959)
Fayetteville Drag Strip (1959)
Howard's Creek Drag Strip (Lincolnton) (1959)
Keener's Drag Strip/Boger City Drag Strip (1959)
Leazer's '66' Sunset Drag Strip/Mooresville Dragway (1959)
New Concord Speedway (1959)
Person County Drag Strip/Roxboro Dragway (1959)
Pisgah Drag Strip (1959)
Salisbury Super Speedway (1959)
Sunset Drag Strip (Lincolnton) (1959)
Dunn-Benson Dragstrip (Benson) (1960)
China Grove "Drag Strip" (1960)
Hilltop Drag Strip (1960)
Kinston Drag Strip (1960)
Sandy Run Drag Strip (1960)
Shadyside Drag Strip (1960)
Starlite Drag Strip (Monroe) (1960)
A & H Drag Strip (Fletcher) (1961)
Bostian Crossroads Drag Strip (1961)
Charlotte Motor Speedway (1961)
Hollins Drag Strip (Forest City) (1961)
Holly Ridge Drag Strip (1961)
Asheville-Weaverville Speedway (1962)
Greenville Drag Strip (1962)
710 Dragstrip (Rowland) (1962)
Shuffletown Drag Strip (1962)
Columbus County Drag Strip (Chadbourn) (1963)
Southern Quarter Drag Strip (Hallsboro) (1963)
Sportsman Park Drag Strip/Farmington Dragway (1963)
Smoky Mountain Dragway (Cherokee) (1965)
Wadesboro Drag Strip (1965)
Shelby Drag Strip (1967)
Highway 258 Drag Strip/Coastal Plains Dragway (Jacksonville) (1960s)
New Bern Drag Strip (1960s)​​
Rockingham Dragway (Marston) (1970)
Columbus Drag Strip (1973)
East Bend Dragway (1974)
 
Robert Fredell at Hudson Drag Strip. Photographer unknown

A & H Drag Strip ​​(Fletcher)

 
The International Timing Association was in negotiations in mid-1959 to hold quarter-mile drag races at the old Asheville Hendersonville Airport. They anticipated holding their first race about March 1960. But it wasn't until the Asheville-Henderson Airport closed on January 15, 1961, that the airport was used for drag racing. The old airport was put out of business when the new Asheville Airport (called Asheville Regional Airport), three miles west of the old airport, opened for business. Some Asheville businessmen, headed by William C. Mason, formed Southeastern Enterprises, Inc. They leased the old airport for $1,200 per month from the city of Asheville, Hendersonville, and Henderson County. They obtained sanctioning from the AHRA.  Don Garlits helped plan the layout of the dual-lane strip on the long runway. "It is one of the greatest in the country," Garlits said. "The wide strip and long shut-off area certainly helps driver psychology." It was called A & H Raceway Drag Strip, with races every Sunday. Dewey Worley was appointed strip manager. The old 4-story airport control tower was used as the timing tower. The first AHRA-sanctioned race was held April 23, 1961. An early-morning rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of drag racing fans as 4,800 people turned out for the opening race. "Sneaky" Pete Robinson tested out the track with his Atlanta-based dragster. Hoyt Grimes, also from Atlanta, took top speed honors with a 9.6 second pass at 165.74 MPH. The raceway's first night drag race under arc lights was held on March 31, 1962. Joe Taylor was named as the promoter in 1963. On October 6, 1963, Gordon Collett was severely burned when his fuel tank ruptured when he was traveling at about 180 MPH in his A/FD. Four thousand people were attending the first annual Blue Ridge Invitational Drag Race.  In 1964, they raced on Saturday night and Sunday. It appeared in a list of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .   But the last newspaper documentation found shows it operating only up to 1967.  It was rezoned for commercial purposes and, after several years, converted to an industrial park.There was an attempt to try to re-open it as a drag strip, but that came to naught. Illegal drag racing periodically occurred as racers broke down fences to race on the old strip, which caused it to be perceived as a nuisance.   Read Henry Doriot's interesting recollections of this strip in the early 1960s on the Memories (North Carolina) page.
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December 1, 1963
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May 7, 1961
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1967
Don Garlits' dragster is shown on this ad for a 2-day race on August 29-30, 1964. A & H also held a 2-day post-Nationals race on September 12-13, 1964, with a $2,500 purse.

Asheville-Weaverville Speedway

 
Drag races were held on a dirt airstrip adjoining the old paved 1/2-mile oval track on August 4, 1962. The occasion was a gathering of motorcyclists from all over the country called the Great Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rally. The speedway had been built in 1951 with racing ending in 1969. The old speedway is now the site of North Buncombe High School.
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Barco Drag Strip/Maple Airstrip (Elizabeth City)

  • Years of Operation: 1955-59
  • Status:  5

In 1955 the Eastern North Carolina Racing Association leased the old abandoned Maple Airstrip, located southeast of Elizabeth City, for drag racing from the North Carolina State Highway Commission. The airstrip had been built about 1942 by the U. S. Army Air Force and was known as the Barco Flight Strip. After the war it was turned over to civilian use. The Racing Association began conducting races in May 1955. The East Coast Championship drag races were held at Maple Airstrip in August 1957. In July 1958 the State Highway Commission decided to extend the lease for the Barco Drag Strip in Maple, Currituck County, for one year beginning May 15, 1958. They wanted to investigate the possibility of selling the strip. Not all members of the commission favored extending the lease. They regularly ran on the second and fourth Sundays under NHRA sanction. On February 22, 1959, Earl Layden, age 28, was fatally injured when he lost control of his car and plunged into spectators and parked cars lining the race area. Five spectators were hospitalized, one of whom, Robert Lee Meads, 28, of Virginia, died a week later from his injuries. The four other injured people brought damage suits totaling $190,000 in Pasquotank Superior Court. The drag strip lease had originally been signed with the State Highway Commission, but subsequently was taken over by the State Prison Commission. That was done because the old airstrip was located adjacent to a high-security prison camp.  Believing that contraband was being smuggled through the fence to prisoners by spectators during the drag races, the Prison Commission terminated the drag racing lease on September 30, 1959, after five years of racing. At the time racing was halted, the Maple strip was the only drag strip in North Carolina sanctioned by a national organization.  The old airstrip is now known as Currituck County Regional Airport.
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Bostian Crossroads Drag Strip


The opening day for this drag strip was March 19, 1961. The track, open on Sundays and Wednesday nights, was sanctioned by Perfection Timing. Arnold Barnhardt was the track manager. Eliminators and class winners received trophies and cash prizes. Research was unable to uncover anything beyond the racing in 1961.
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March 19, 1961

Burke-Caldwell Drag Strip

 
Earl Blankenship built a treated dirt-surface drag strip on property adjacent to the old Lenoir Morganton airport, today's Foothills Regional Airport. That old airport was built in 1945. He began building it in March 1957. The track was three-quarters of a mile long to support quarter-mile racing. Research was unable to find out if drag races were held in 1957, but there is documentation that a race was held on March 9, 1958.
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March 9, 1958

Carrier Field/Owen Airport ​​(Asheville)


The first race at Owen Airport was held on October 4, 1959. The small general aviation airport, first called Carrier Field, had been built between 1946 and 1948. It had been unpaved until the Asheville Racing Corporation made arrangements to hold drag races and paved a 6/10th-mile stretch of the airport runway. Racing was conducted in fifteen classes weekly on Sundays. Racing was timed for either 1/8th- or 1/4-mile distances and was not open to dragsters. They eventually built stands to seat 4,100 people. The managers of the strip were Max Wilson, Bob Furey, Jim Herrin, and Dr. J. E. Owens. The strip was open for airplane traffic when there was no racing. By 1964, the airport and drag strip was no longer in operation because the Asheville Motor Speedway oval track was built over the top of the western part of the runway. Initially plans were to build the oval track between the airport drag strip and the French Broad River, but plans were changed. In 1960, they began building what first was a dirt 4/10th-mile oval track, bisected by the drag strip. It didn't hamper the drag races in 1960, but when the oval was paved, drag racing came to an end.
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This ​ 1961 USGS topo map shows the airfield, then being call Owen Airfield, where drag races were held in 1959
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Charlotte Fairgrounds Drag Strip

 
One-eighth mile drag races were held on a half-mile dirt track at the fairgrounds speedway. Allen Weddle of Burlington set the dirt-track 1/8th-mile top speed record of 77.58 MPH in March 28, 1959. That was the first drag race held at the fairgrounds track. Spectators watched the night races from the covered grandstands. The International Timing Association held a race here on Wednesday, July 15, 1959. The first drag race in 1960 was held on March 27. The newly-organized Precision Timing Association sanctioned the event. Class winners were awarded imported marble trophies. Zeke Hider from Gastonia took top eliminator in his Pontiac-powered coupe. There was another race on April 3, 1960. This track was later called Metrolina Speedway and is no longer operational.
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June 21, 1959

Charlotte Motor Speedway

  • Years of Operation: 1961, 1964-65, 1971-74
  • Status:  5

The homestretch in front of the grandstand on this octagon-shaped speedway had two slight bends, which made it interesting for drag race use. On March 19, 1961, they held the first drag race here on a trial basis. 3,800 spectators watched 143 entries, evidencing sufficient interest that several races were held. At the first race, Jim Barbee of Concord ran the fastest in his B gas draster of 118 MPH. Dutch Snipes won top eliminator with a 109 MPH run in his Chrysler-powered 1927 Model T. The track offered $500 in prize money for four classes and top eliminator for an April 16, 1961 race. Races thereafter were held every week on Sunday through May 7, halting then so the track could make preparations for the World 600 Race on May 28. A series of weekly Sunday drag races resumed on July 30, with racers being timed on a 1/5th-mile segment of the homestretch. The first races may have been conducted over a quarter-mile stretch, but later shortened for safety reasons. This conclusion is reached because newspapers reported that the  track reeord was 103.45 MPH, held by Dan Allison. This was much slower than speeds at the first meet. The speedway offered the cash awards again and gave out free chicken dinners to the spectators to draw them back again for the July 30 race. On June 28, 1964, the speedway held a Super Stock Bonanza drag race. A $5,000 purse attracted racers like Huston Platt and Arnie Beswick. In June 1965, drag racing moved to 1/8th-mile night races on the lit backstretch. Ronnie Sox won the battle of factory cars in that first night race with a 118.43 MPH best clocking. Richard Petty, who had lost a match race to Arnie Beswick in an April, was booked to run in a best-of-five match against Sox in early July.   In 1971, the Speedway leased their facility to another promoter to stage drag races. On October 30 and November 7, 1971, Tom Ferrell staged the Southern National Drag Championships, sanctioned by NHRA, on the 1/8th-mile drag strip on pit road. The fastest funny car in a field of eighteen was Dale Creasy who clocked 168.85 MPH in 4.95 seconds.  In 1972, the Speedway entered into contract with IHRA to stage drag races on a regular annual basis. At the IHRA Southern Nationals in March 1974, the event was marred by a tragic fatal accident. Dave Anderson was making an exhibition run in his "Pollution Packer" rocket dragster on March 30. After being clocked at 3.42 ET and 248 MPH, he lost control of the car on the far end. Anderson and two mechanics working on cars at the end of the strip were killed and three others injured. On July 20-21, 1974, the IHRA staged the Dixie Classic over an 1/8th-mile at the Speedway. Don Garlits came out on top, besting Tommy Ivo in four races, and in the process, setting a new 1/8th-mile world record of 4.08 seconds. Gene Snow beat Billy Meyer to take the funny car title.
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March 28, 1965
CLICK HERE to see TV broadcast of IHRA Southern Nationals at CMS on March 29-31, 1974, 5 minutes

China Grove "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1960
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
Raymond Melton, who lived in China Grove, north of Kannapolis, had been a policeman, grocer, and was active in Democratic politics. He also had a farm east of where he lived in what was called the Ebenezer community. He built a dirt drag strip on his farm in 1960. The strip, located east of the old Concord-Salisbury Road (probably State Highway 29) and two miles north of what was called the Bostian Crossroads, opened for racing on August 13, 1960. He had started construction in early July. It was a quarter-mile strip with a cleared surface for shutdown and his farmland beyond that if needed. Melton planned on holding races on Wednesday and Saturday nights and on Sundays. It is highly doubtful that the track had lights, so cars simply raced into the dark with their lights on. Melton planned on awarding trophies or cash awards. In a clever ploy to involve the public, he held a contest to name the drag strip. August 28th was to be the final day of the contest.  Research was unable to uncover the name of this drag strip. After the initial splash of publicity, there was little news about the strip and none told its name. Melton's wife died in a tragic auto accident the next year. Nothing could be found about the strip other than the racing that happened in 1960.
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Columbus County Drag Strip (Chadbourn)


L. C. Garrell was behind the building of a drag strip along State Highway 130 (probably on the south side), 1.5 miles east of Chadbourn. Although news articles usually said it was near Whiteville, it was closer to Chadbourn. It was finished and ready for racing in June 1963. The first race may have been held on June 30. The focus of this track was Super Stock racing. On February 6, 1966, the track presented a match race between Dock Wilson's Corvair wagon, Milton Bullard's Plymouth Hemi, and Jimmy Boyd's Plymouth Hemi-Hercules. On Sunday, November 27, 1966, Carlton Foley of Lumberton took first in his '67 Chevelle. In 1968, newspaper ads and articles called it the Columbus County Speedway. On July 28, 1968, Bill Wright took first place in his Ford Torino GT Fastback. In 1968, the track was being called Columbus County Speedway.
 
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1963
August 11, 1968

Columbus Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1973
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

This is a bit of a mystery drag strip as only one newspaper article could be found in researching it. That article ("Drag Strip Action," Lumberton Robesonian, Aug. 19, 1973) reported on a pro stock match race that would be held at the track on Sunday, August 19, 1973. The race would feature Ronald "Rapid" Lyles in a Sox & Martin Duster against Roy Hill driving a Petty Enterprises Plymouth.  With only this single article, the authenticity of this track is in doubt. More research is needed.
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Concord Drag Strip

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Construction began about May 1958 on a $75,000 60-foot wide, 3/4 mile long asphalt drag strip. It was three miles west of Concord, adjacent to Highway 29, one-half mile on Roberta Mill Road. The owner/builders were Roe and Jane Brown. It was sanctioned by the Universal Timing Association of Concord. The opening race was on August 16, 1958. On August 23, racers had to be turned away after the field filled with 120 cars. Allen Weddle of Burlington took top eliminator in his B/AR with a clocking of 104.65 MPH. Richard Behling of Charlotte set the track record of 116.88 MPH. Later in 1958, Wilbur Bucy from Ohio set a new track record of 140.63 MPH.  In a strange fluke, a race in March 1959 had to be postponed because an artesian well erupted through the strip pavement. On August 15, 1959, the first annual Dixie Drag Classic was held. Pope Johnson from Kingsport, Tennessee, took top eliminator in his Cadillac-powered dragster with a run of 10.58 seconds before 3,500 spectators. In 1961, cash prizes were awarded to winners, with emphasis that year being placed on the stock division rather than roadsters. Clyde Ritchie was the track manager. On May 13, 1961, Alan Weddle clocked 150 MPH in his A/GD. On May 2, 1964, the strip resumed operation under its original owner, Roe Brown.  He spent $12,000 on renovating the strip (including repaving) and planned on running each Saturday night through August. The strip ran into tax problems circa 1968-69. It may not have operated in 1970, but opened for the 1971 season under new management. That seems to be the final year the track operated, although an unsuccessful attempt was made to reopen the strip in 1973.
August 30 & September 1, 1958
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Advertisement in ​​​​Dixie Drag News, May 1, 1963. Courtesy of W. C. Williams
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Flyer from Gene Cromer's scrapbook. Courtesy of Frank Taylor

Dixie Classic Fairgrounds ​​(Winston-Salem)


One hundred racers were expected to run in the drag race being held at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds on Thursday night, August 6, 1959.  At least two or more other races had been held prior to this. And at least one race was held in September. The races were put on by the International Timing Association. Richard Clayton and Bill Ellis had both copped top eliminator honors in earlier races.
 
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Dixie Drag Strip

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  • Years of Operation: 1957
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

The first race was held at this drag strip on July 7, 1957. Newspaper ads stated that it was located ten miles north of Burlington, beyond the intersection of Burch Bridge and Stoney Creek Church Roads (directions are confusing). Lisa Kobrin, reference librarian for the May Memorial Library in Burlington, wrote DSL that most of the drag strips in the area were located in the Altamahaw area as it was outside of any municipality. She also said that Burlington outlawed drag racing in late February 1957. Spectators were admitted for 90 cents. They held races weekly on Sunday. The 1957 Burlington city directory listed Claude W. Dodd, an auto mechanic for the Lloyd Motor Service, as the contact person for Dixie Drag Strip.
 
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July 7, 1957

Dunn-Benson Dragstrip (Benson)

  • Years of Operation: ca. 1960-present

Dallas Parker built the Dunn-Benson Dragstrip.   Read W. C. Williams's comments about the beginnings of that strip.   The new owners, GALOT Racing, contend that that strip opened in 1957, but DSL would like to see their documentation for making that claim. Documentation is very sparse for this strip's beginnings. Until research proves otherwise, DSL is going to state that it started in about 1960. In 2010, Roger and Brian Williams were the owners of the New Dunn-Benson Dragway. In 2013, Earl Wells, the founder and owner of GALOT Racing, bought the track. He made significant improvements and now the track is called GALOT Motorsports Park. GALOT is an abbreviation for "Get a Load of This." The track was sanctioned by NHRA in 2016 and runs 1/8th-mile drag races. More research is needed on the track's early years.
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Dunn-Benson Dragstrip, ​ 1972 aerial photo
CLICK HERE to see video footage of the New Dunn-Benson Dragstrip in 2009, 3:15 minutes
November 12, 1972

East Bend Dragway


More research is needed to find when this 1/8th-mile drag strip located on NC 67 opened. However it was open at least by 1970, when it appeared on a topo map and showed up on a 1971 aerial photo.  In 1974 Charlie "Opie" Wilson, age 52, was killed while racing his funny car at a race on April 21. He went off the end of the strip and crashed in some trees. The asphalt of the old track is still in fair condition. It was going to be sold at auction in 2016.
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East Bend Dragway, 1970 topo map

Easy Street Drag Strip ​(Newton Grove)


W. C. Williams spoke with  DSL about his recollections of the beginnings of this drag strip, which he dated to about 1957. Read his recollections on the Memories (North Carolina) page . Drag races were held at this drag strip at least as early as 1961, if not before. At a race held on Sunday, July 29, 1962, Ronnie Butler took the Super Stock honors with a 13.12 ET and 112.50 MPH. This was a North Carolina championship event so Butler grabbed the title. Ronnie Sox took fourth place, but his Dodge developed engine trouble so he had to borrow a Chevy from Bunk Nichols and Bill Ingold. Malcolm Durham purportedly raced here.  Easy Street Drag Strip appeared in a list of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip . W. C. Williams thought the strip had shut down prior to 1968, so this Swedish publication might be in error..
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Advertisement in ​​​Dixie Drag News, May 1, 1963. Courtesy of W. C. Williams
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1959

Emma Air Park


Josephson Airport was an auxiliary airfield during WWII, located in the town of Emma, just west of Asheville. Sometime between 1946-48, the airport was renamed Ashville Airpark. Joe Josephson, who operated the airpark, featured air shows and traveling circuses. Josephson decided to take advantage of the popularity of drag racing and began staging 1/8th-mile drag races at his airfield in early July 1957. At first they ran on dirt. Allen Smith recalled :  "The 800' paved area sprang up when drag racing cars became the big thing in the mid-1950s. At first they drag raced on the dirt but that did not go over very well for the paying public. The 800' foot paved part was strictly built for drag racing & a fence was installed to keep the fans from spilling out onto the paved area. The hangar had been closed down & there were no airplanes there except the remains of the 6 T-6s. The drag racing in the mid to late-1950s drew large crowds on Saturday nights but on a very calm Saturday a bolt of lightening out of the blue hit the fence that was in front of the hangar where boys & men would gather & work on their cars earlier in the day before the afternoon race. Two boys standing close to the fence were killed instantly as the lightening hit the fence & jumped to each of them and a number of people were knocked to the ground."  The promoters were Gene Sluder and Wayne Waldrop. It was purportedly going to be called Dixie Drag Strip (not to be confused with the Dixie Drag Strip at Burlington). In mid-August 1959, the Custom Toppers car club placed a notice in the Asheville Citizen-Times stating that they would have nothing more to do with the drag strip. Whatever conflict or problem that they had with the race track to cause them to disassociate has been lost to time. Gary Lee McNabb, an 18-year-old from Waynesville, was one of those killed on August 23, 1959, when lightning struck him when he was leaning on a fence at the drag strip. That fatal storm brought a close to racing at the airpark for that race. But the next week, the strip opened for racing. An ad for that race said that the strip was owned and operated by the Ridge Runners car club. On June 25, 1960, Gary Bradley set a new track record with a speed of 88 MPH in his Chrysler-powered Model A for the 1/8th-mile. The last documentation for racing found was a race held on Sunday, May 14, 1961. Several large industrial buildings occupy the site of the old airpark.
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August 15, 1959
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This was the first of a series of light-hearted newspaper ads published in the Asheville Citizen-Times in October and November 1959. The other ads said "Hi George" and "Hi Tom." Emma was inviting "them" to come to the drag strip and have fun.
1960
August 20-21, 1960

Fairchild Field (Burlington)


The Carolina Road Runners car club conducted the first official public drag race in North Carolina that was held at the Fairchild Airport in Burlington on June 21, 1953. Spectators were charged 50 cents for admission. The race was sponsored by a Burlington American Legion Post. Trophies were awarded to winners in six classes and to the racer with the fastest speed. Wayne Shepherd, a drag racing pioneer, reportedly "competed in the first [drag race] events ever held in this state [North Carolina] at Burlington in 1953." (Burlington Daily Times, Sep. 18, 1959)  3,500 people watched that first race in which 96 racers competed. The only problem that the Road Runners had in that first race was in getting the spectators to stay a safe distance back from the race track. They had strung wires to keep people back, but the people refused to be kept back behind the wires. They hoped to remedy that in future events. Bill Barkley, a member of the Rowan Road Angels of Spencer, set the top speed mark with 104 MPH in his 1932 Ford modified roadster. The Road Runners' second race was held on August 30, 1953. Four thousand people watched 150 drivers compete. The racers came from thourghout North Carolina and from South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. Frank Heafner of Gastonia set the top speed of 110.172 MPH in his Mercury-powered 1931 Ford roadster. The Road Runners had scheduled their third race for Sunday, September 27, but at the last minute they had to change that to a different date. They were informed that a law prohibited Sunday racing in Alamance County, so they changed the race to Saturday, October 3. The race attacted 200 cars, but the late change dropped the attendance to only 500. The 1954 season opened on Saturday night, April 24, with 84 racers competing before 2,500 people. Sponsored by the Burlington Police Club, it was the first drag race in the country to be held under lights. They planned on holding races every other week on Saturday nights. At the second race of the 1954 season on May 8, 1,500 people came to watch 62 cars compete. Frank Heafner took the win in the Competition Class Roadsters with his 1927 Model T with a run of 111.11 MPH. He repeated as a class winner again on May 29. In that race, racers from 22 cities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Mississippi were represented. On June 5th, the enthusiastic crowd of 1,500 fans formed cheering sections for each of the differrent makes of cars. Organized drag races continued to be held at Fairchild Field  from 1955 to 1957.  They raced on the single paved northeast-southwest 3,500-foot runway. The airport was built in 1931 and was called Huffman Field until 1942. In that year, the Fairchild Aircraft Company, whose plant was across the street from Huffman Field, took over the airport and renamed it Fairchild Field. After the end of the war, Western Electric Company took over the aircraft plant. The airport continued operation as a civil airport after the war. Fairchild Field was closed to air traffic between 1966 and 1972. Today a large WalMart is on the site of Fairchild Field and there is little evidence of the old runway.
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This ad in the ​​​​​​Burlington Daily Times-News promotes the third legal drag race ever run in North Carolina
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This 1954 ad in the ​Burlington Daily Times-News advertises the second time a drag race was run at night in the United States

Fayetteville Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation:  1959-present

Drag races were purportedly held in Fayetteville in September 1959, but the documentation is scant.  The drag strip is located six miles south of Fayetteville on the Doc Bennett Road, just south of what is today the Fayetteville Regional Airport.  It went by various names at different times.  Sometimes it was called the Fayetteville-Cumberland Dragway and the Cumberland International Drag Strip.  On April 21, 1961, Ronnie Butler drove Jack Strader's '61 Pontiac Super Stock to a first place win with a run of 107.42 MPH. In 1965, the drag race track was refurbished. News reports often gave its location as being "behind the airport." The track was reported to be 5,000 feet long. They began holding races in 1965 every Sunday. Ads stated that the track was designed especially for stock car classes. In 1969 they started putting on a big funny car show, which lasted annually at least through 1974. The track hosted the North Carolina State Drag Racing Championships, a three-day affair, on October 9-11, 1970. On Sunday, April 11, 1971, the Dixie Pro Stock Championships were held at Cumberland. They had the lights to run night races. The North Carolina Fuel Funny Car Championships were held on Friday night, September 3, 1971. In 1972, the funny car championships featured sixteen cars and was a 2-day event. On May 5, 1972, eight women pro stock drivers (including Bunny Burkett) competed in a racing program to determine the Miss Universe of Drag Racing.   Old timers remember the track as being very narrow, with pine trees almost up to the edge of the track. The strip ran in a northwesterly direction and the pits were in among the pine trees. In the 1980s, the track was sanctioned by IHRA. At an IHRA points meet on August 15, 1982, Rickie Smith set the pro stock track record with a run of 8.16 at 170 MPH. It continues to operate as an IHRA-sanctioned track called Fayetteville Motor Sports Park Dragway.
 
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Advertisement in ​​​​​​​Dixie Drag News, May 1, 1963. Courtesy of W. C. Williams
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1965
May 5, 1972
February 26-27, 1972
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March 11, 1973
CLICK HERE to see aerial view of the Fayetteville Motor Sports Park complex, 1:19 minutes
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February 10, 1974
May 26, 1974
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August 10, 1973
Listing in ​​National Dragster, Dec. 23, 1977. Courtesy of Mel Bashore

Gastonia "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1955
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

In January 1955, the Gaston Gear Grinders club started grading work on a drag strip four miles south of Gastonia on York Road. It was reportedly near Ralph's Barn. It was a quarter-mile strip with a half-mile shutdown area. They hoped to have it ready for racing in April. They planned to hold races twice a month.  Trophies were to be awarded. It was expected that sixteen other car clubs in the area would participate in the racing. Carl Hampton was a spokesman for the club. More research is needed.
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Greenville Drag Strip


L. T. Hardee built and operated a drag strip in Greenville in early 1962. It was located three miles east of Greenville off the Grimesland-Washington highway. Bill Kittrill, who is very knowledgeable about Pitt County history, compiled information about this drag strip that he shared with DSL. He located the drag strip south of Eastern Pines Road in what is today a subdivision. He said that Hardee rented some land from Mr. Porter to extend the length of the track. With this information, DSL was able to spot the old strip on a 1993 aerial photo. Kittrell wrote DSL that the strip held a Ladies' Day event in May 1962. They raced for four trophies in mixed classes. Some of the ladies who entered the event included Joan Darden, Irene Dixon, Evonne Dickerson, Barbara James, Gail Manning, Joanne Whichard, Vivian Stocks, Lucy Griffin, and Billie West. Some of the racers who raced there included Roy Darden, Tom Dixon, Ronnie Butler, "Pop" Whitt, Hubert Pulley, and Junior Stocks. Newspapers also reported a fatal accident that occurred on June 17, 1962. Billy Cooper, age 35, from Hampton, Virginia, was killed while racing his Super Super Stock '62 Plymouth at this strip. He applied the brakes too soon after finishing his run, causing him to veer off the track and overturn. More research is needed to determine the years the track operated.
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1993 aerial view of old Greenville Drag Strip

Hickory "Drag Strip"


Steve Julian went to this drag strip to watch his cousins race in 1958. Read his Memories of this old drag strip. Steve's directions to the drag strip started from the Hickory Regional Airport terminal. At that point, "you proceed past it past the runway and probably several more miles before coming to the old strip. You would cross a bridge and the strip was maybe 1 or 2 miles on the left." Steve's memory of its location was accurate as it is about two miles west of the airport. It is still visible in aerial photos, reached by taking the Airport Rodhiss Road. It is on the left (or south) side of that road on Old Dragstrip Street (a dead giveaway). More research is needed to uncover the range of years this strip operated.
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2004 aerial view of Hickory Drag Strip

Highway 258 Drag Strip/Coastal Plains Dragway (Jacksonville)

  • Years of Operation: 1960s-present

Research has verified that drag racing began at least as early as 1969, but probably the track opened prior to that year. More research is needed in the early years of racing at this track. Bobby Brown was killed on May 13, 1972. He lost control of his D/MP Corvette just after finishing his run and rolled over several times. The strip operates today as an IHRA-sanctioned 1/8th-mile track.
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Listing in ​​​​​​National Dragster, Dec. 23, 1977. Courtesy of Mel Bashore
CLICK HERE to see video footage of racing at Coastal Plains Dragway in 2008, 4:17 minutes

Hilltop Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1960
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

Most of what is known about this strip comes from Walt McIntyre :  "Believe it or not, there was two other dragstrips within four miles of Shadyside and they were all running at the same time. Shadyside was the first one, owned by Marshall Hamrick. The next one that opened up was called Sandy Run. It was located about three miles west of Shadyside. It was owned by the Hunt family. The next one that opened up was on the same road as Sandy Run about a mile away. It was called Hilltop. I don't remember who owned it. I guess they all saw how good Marshall Hamrick was doing at Shadyside and thought they could get rich too with their dragstrips. It didn't cost much to build a dragstrip back then because they were all dirt. They all had flagmen to start you racing and then had a guy at the finish line on each side to tell who won by holding up a flag on the winning side. Sandy Run opened in 1960, and ran until about 1966. Hilltop opened up about the same time and didn't stay open but a couple of years. Not long ago Butch Green and I went by Sandy Run and talked to the owner. He said the track had grown up, but told us to go on down and look at it, but we didn't, we went on down the road to check out Hilltop. The area had changed so much that we saw where it was, but you couldn't tell that there had ever been a dragstrip there. Racers like myself, Butch Green, Johnny White, Bobby Barr, Ed Price, Alfred Price, Hotdog Price, Robert Davis, Pete Black, Garland Buff, Jim Bridges and many others raced at these tracks on a regular basis. All the tracks were trying to run on Sunday afternoons, then Sandy Run got smart and put a string of lights up down the side of the dragstrip and started opening up on Saturday nights. They had good success doing that."
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Hollins Drag Strip (Forest City)

  • Years of Operation:   1961
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

Little is known about this strip except that it was located south of Forest City on Highway 221. It opened for the 1961 season on January 15. The strip was paved for a half mile, with races conducted for a quarter mile. It was sanctioned by the International Timing Association, with races being held on Sunday. More research is needed.
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Holly Ridge Drag Strip


There were several part-owners of this drag strip, north of Wilmington, including members of the Ottaway and Sholar families. According to Felix Ottaway , son of founder Darrell Ottaway, before the actual drag strip was built, races took place on a mile-long airstrip runway (probably the runway running north-south) at the old Camp Davis Army base. However this memory conflicts with the recollections of several of the racers who remembered that the races always took place on the abandoned military runway, not on a purpose-built drag strip.  One of those old racers was Ken Roberts. He raced there in the 1980s and said that the races took place on one of the old runways, not on a different drag strip. He said, "Everyone with a hot-rod in that corner of the state knew about Holly Ridge, as we called it. The entire area was uncontrolled, access was never a problem." He remembered that there was always a crowd on Saturdays and Sundays. At a race held on April 23, 1961, Ronnie Butler drove Jack Strader's 1961 Pontiac Super Stocker.  A month later, Butler drove Strader's Pontiac to win both Ultra Stock and the Stock Eliminator honors. The final race on the drag strip was a motorcycle event in the early 1980s featuring the Port City Wheelers. The question about military runway vs. purpose-bult drag strip still needs to be answered. And was this an 1/8th-mile or quarter-mile track? If racing took place on the military runway, it was undoubtedly quarter-mile timing. There are a lot of questions still needing answers about this drag strip. Possibly there were two drag strips. Edsel Presley wrote about two drag strips. He said one was the Holly Ridge Drag Strip that closed in the late 1960s. The second was an unofficial drag strip that operated on an old abandoned military runway. Presley said of this unofficial strip, "No rules, just run. Military dug a big ditch around the whole thing to keep people out in the 70s after some Marines got killed there. According to my dad it was crazy there. Six cars on one end and six on the other and run them interlacing each other. Cars not stopping and running right into the woods. Rednecks with guns." The two Marines were killed on Sunday, March 5, 1967. They were Harlon Henderson and Vernon W. Davis. They were in separate cars on the abandoned airstrip. Their vehicles collided while drag racing.
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1965
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of racing at Holly Ridge in 1960s, 42 seconds, no sound

Howard's Creek Drag Strip ​(Lincolnton)


This drag strip, owned by John Gilbert, advertised races held every Sunday. It was located 4 1/2 miles west of Lincolnton. On Sunday, May 10, 1959, members of the Road Angels car club were rained out of their regular races at Keeners Drag Strip in Boger City. So they moved their races that day to Howard's Creek. Sonny Sipe of Gastonia won top eliminator that day in his '23 T-truck. He beat Bubber Hoffman's '58 Chevy. More research is needed.
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1959

Hudson "Drag Strip"


Walt McIntyre said that one of the drag strips that he used to race at was Hudson.  George Shell filed incorporation papers for Hudson Drag Strip on May 14, 1959, but it opened earlier than that.   Van Abernethy recalled, "I used to know for sure when Hudson was built. I wouldn't swear to it now, but the year 1956 comes in my mind. Pretty sure it ran until 1994, and never reopened for '95. Hudson was dirt it's first year. It wasn't always an 1/8 either. Back until probably the 1970's Hudson was longer, but wasn't quite a true 1/4 mile from what people tell me that remember. Seems like they just raced to about the bottom of 'shut down hill' -- however far that was. Greed, and a family grudge that dated back to around 1981 is what ultimately shut Hudson's gates forever. A more loved facility would be hard to find." Another old timer confirmed the opening date of 1956. He said his father used to race there and told him that the opening date of 1956 sounded accurate.  "He said that Hudson has been there a little over 50 years and . . .  he said when he raced they ran all the way to the bottom of shut down hill." Another old timer attended races there when he was a little lad. He recalled, "I think I was there every Saturday night from the time I was 5 til about 13 or 14. . . .  I can still see Mom, Dad, and myself sitting there on the hill right at the starting line. My dad used to get so fired up at me. We had to get there by 4:00 so I could watch most of the cars come in the gate. Some of the best were weekly racers there. Hood, Mauney, Frank Teague, Sam Snyder, Danny Dunn, to name a few. Usually once a month you could count on Walter Henry and Terry Adams, too. I remember one time Eddie Carmichael brought his Pro Stock Monza to test some stuff. First pass he shook the door off it."
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1993 aerial view of Hudson Drag Strip
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Keener's Drag Strip/Boger City Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1959
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
There was a dirt drag strip on Salem Road in Boger City that was owned by Yates Keener as early as 1959. It may have been in the vicinity of today's Keener Road (or it may have actually been that road). The Road Angels Hot Rod Club from Gastonia conducted the drag races each Sunday. On May 3, 1959, Bubber Hoffman of Lincolnton got top eliminator in his 1958 Impala. Trophies were awarded to class winners. The Road Angels only operated the strip for six weeks, discontinuing conducting races there because of an inadequate financial arrangement.  The strip changed hands in the summer of 1959 when C. B. Lawing of Lincolnton bought the strip from Keener. At that time, the strip's name changed to Boger City Drag Strip. It reopened under this new ownership on July 19, 1959. The Road Angels made a new deal with the strip's new owners and began conducting its races again. Dave Thomason of Gastonia got top eliminator at that race in his C gasser. They installed a timing light to clock speeds at their race on August 2, 1959. Prior to that it was just cars racing each other for trophies without being timed. On August 9, 1959, Paul Johnson took home three trophies with his S/SA '58 Chevy. He won his class, top speed, and top eliminator with a run of 75.63 MPH. Research hasn't found whether this drag strip operated in any other year except 1959.
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Kinston Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1960-present
 
According to the strip's website, the Kinston strip was originally built as a quarter-mile dragstrip in 1960 by Shade Aldridge, John White, Paul Nobles, and Pos Jarman. The first documentation which newspaper research has uncovered dates to a race held on March 31, 1963. There was $2,000 in cash prizes being offered. It was expected this would draw over 200 entries from twelve states and 4,000 fans. Super Stock racers expected to appear included Don Nicholson, Dick Brannon, Gene Hinston, and Harold Denton. On March 22, 1964, Don Nicholson ran an 11.36 ET in his 1964 Mercury Comet Marauder fiberglass station wagon. On May 2, 1965, the strip featured a match race between Don Nicholson and Ronnie Sox. It isn't until the mid-1960s that research in newspapers proved productive about this strip, but by then the track was well-established with regular big-name drag events. On July 23, 1967, a record-setting match race was held between Ed Schartman's '67 Comet and Larry Reyes' Kingfish Cuda. The Comet got a new track record of 8.21 seconds and the Cuda garnered a new track speed record of 180.00 MPH.  On November 12, 1967, Reyes returned with his '68 Barracuda funny car and upped the track record to 183.78 MPH.  The quarter-mile strip was leveled and resurfaced for the 1969 season. At the season opener on March 30, Terry Hedrick faced Larry Reyes in a Chevy vs. Ford funny car match race.  Hedrick took the 2-of-3 match with a best run of 7.88 seconds at 176.47 MPH. A fatal accident occurred on October 21, 1973, in a two-car race collision. Adrian Fountain lost control of his car after winning the race and slammed into the car in the other lane driven by Frank Rivenbark. The current owner, Bobby Smith, bought the track in 1977. The track was sanctioned by IHRA  in the mid 1980s. The very first IHRA divisional points meet was held in 1991. In an exhibition on August 7, 1977, "Wreckless" Rex Whitehurst set a new world's record by leaping 137 feet over 23 cars on a motorcycle. At some date before 1992, the track switched from quarter-mile to 1/8th-mile racing. In 1992, the track also installed a guardrail. According to news reports this guardrail was historic, "the first in the 31-year history of the track." If that is a correct fact, then 1961 is possibly when the track may have first opened. The track is also a venue for rock concerts and other entertainments, e.g., "booty shake off." .
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April 7, 1968
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1971
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Pro Mods at Kinston Drag Strip, 2010, 1:45 minutes
March 17, 1974

Laurinburg "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1955
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

Organized drag races were reportedly conducted in the vicinity of Burlington, North Carolina, in 1955. They may have been conducted at what is today called Laurinburg Maxton Airport, but more research is needed.
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Leazer's '66' Sunset Drag Strip/Mooresville Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1959-present
 
Called the 66 Sunset Drag Strip, owned by Glenn Leazer, was located three miles east of Mooresville on Highway 152. The first documented race was held on October 30, 1959, but there were undoubtedly races before then. The Leazer family have claimed that the track opened in 1956 or 1958, but with that disparity, we need to see the documentation to support those claims. On August 13, 1961, they held what was called the Mid-Season Championship Race. Advertisements claimed that it would attract entries from four states for more than $500 in prize money. A purse of over $600 was being offered for a Labor Day race. On May 20, 1962, newspapers reported that Glenn Leazer would open "a new paved drag strip."  It appears to be in the same general location of the Leazer strip in operation in 1960-61, that is, on Highway 152 between Mooresville and China Grove. If so, was the strip a dirt-surfaced strip in 1960-61 and a newly-paved strip in 1962? Racers that were expected to be at the opener included Ronnie Sox and Ronnie Butler in their Super Stock cars. At the two-day race on June 30 and July 1, 1962, in addition to the racing, the strip held a square dance, beauty contest, and a twist contest. In 1964, the strip changed its name to Dixie Dragway.  Glenn Leazer turned over the operation of the strip to Bill Garland. Races were held each Saturday night. Things became heated at a race on April 18, 1964. Cary Cason got in a fight with brothers Donald and Bernard Shoe over the outcome of a race. Bernard had to be hospitalized with serious knife wounds inflicted on him by Cason. Late Tuesday night, on August 9, 1966, the announcer's stand at the strip was destroyed by dynamite. Glenn Leazer had no explanation for the incident. On September 14, 1968, Jerry Wayne Wade, age 27, was killed when he was hit by a race car. A few weeks later, the strip held a benefit race for him with all proceeds going to his wife and children.
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Advertisement in ​​​​Dixie Drag News, May 1, 1963. Courtesy of W. C. Williams
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1961
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October 30, 1959
1983
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Mooresville Dragway on August 1, 2009, 3 minutes

New Bern Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1960s-2015

Research in newspapers shows that this strip was operating at least as early as 1970, but probably prior to that year. However more research is needed to uncover its opening year. New Bern Motorsports Park 1/8th-mile drag strip closed in 2015.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of New Bern Motorsports Park, 2003, 9:48 minutes
CLICK HERE to see footage of remnants of New Bern Motorsports Park, 2016, 5:15 minutes

New Concord Speedway


Drag races were held on an 1/8th-mile segment of the high-banked half-mile oval track at this speedway. The first drag race at the speedway was held on April 12, followed by another race on April 19, 1959. They were sanctioned by the International Timing Association. Drivers would start on the fourth turn of the oval and end in front of the 8,000-seat concrete grandstand.
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North Wilkesboro Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1955-present

Angus Ellis, with the help of his sons--Lester, J. C., Bill, and Gwyn--and Angus' brother-in-law, Sam Eller, built this drag strip in Mount Pleasant in 1955.  According to a 2015 article in the Wilkes Journal-Patriot , the track operated several years as a dirt strip:  "The Ellis family owned the track for the first 21 years of its existence. Bill Ellis owned it outright from 1970-76 after he bought out the rest of the family’s shares. When it was built, the track was dirt and a quarter-mile long. It also had no return road. After two racers lined up and went down the track the next two would have to wait for the first two to turn around and return. That ended in 1960, when the track was paved and a return road was added. In 1973, Bill Ellis started doing something a little different with the dragstrip—stock car racing on a round and paved track. He put wheels on some of the guard rails so he could convert the dragstrip into an oval shaped track and started racing what he called 'mini-stocks.' The track would host a mini stock race on Friday night and drag races Saturday. 'The start/finish line was the starting line for the dragstrip. The cars would race half track, go left up the hill, curve around and back down the hill around the timing tower back to the start/finish,' Mrs. [Gena] Hodges wrote in her history of the dragway. These races are considered the birth of the Baby Grand Series (later known as the Dash Series) sanctioned by NASCAR in 1975. That era was short-lived at the dragstrip. Ellis sold his shares in 1976 to Tom Ferrell and, after two unsuccessful years, Ferrell closed the track. The dragstrip reopened under Wilson Johnston in 1980. Ownership changed a few times after that, but it stayed open until 1989. At that time, Dean and Greg Wilkie of Lenior took over and closed the track for two years to make renovations. Under ownership of the Wilkie brothers, the track hosted the Carolina Nitrous Nationals (an International Hot Rod Association national event) in 1991, and the Jet Car Nationals in 1992. According to Mrs. Hodges, from 1993 to 2000, the track was leased to several different drag racers and renamed the Wilkesboro Raceway Park. In 2000, Danny and Mona Dunn bought the track and owned it longer than anyone not named Ellis. 'It has been a little difficult, as far as, you never know who is coming in,' Mrs. Hodges said. 'Living beside the track, I want good neighbors. I have seen some people come in over the years—there was a period in the 90s that saw several different people come in and lease it. Here a year, gone. Here a year, gone—that kind of thing. I hate to say bad things about people but they were not the best neighbors or track owners. They didn’t know a lot about running a dragstrip. But when Danny and Mona Dunn bought the track in 2000, we knew right away we were going to have some great neighbors.' The Dunns made a lot of changes to the track. They renovated the pit-side concession stand, built a 10-car garage and updated the spectator-side concession stand and turned that building into their home. By 2014, the Dunns were eyeing the end of their tenure as owners. Enter Phil and Pat Halbedel. While attending a Saturday race last summer, the Halbedels spoke with Danny Dunn about the future of the dragstrip. 'That night he said he wasn’t going to have the Saturday night race anymore. He was just going to have the Thursday Test and Tune and that was all he was going to do,' said Phil Halbedel. 'We sat there kind of disappointed and the guy sitting beside us said, ‘You guys ought to just buy this place." And I said, "yeah, I’ll just write a check."' Halbedel laughs about the idea now, but the deal eventually went through. He didn’t write a check however. He and Pat assumed ownership through a property swap with the Dunns. The Halbedels hosted their first race on June 12, 2014, and moved into the home/concession stand less than three days later."  On August 31, 1963, Archie Vickers was killed when he lost control near the end of the track, was thrown from the vehicle, and died when the car rolled over him.  It operates as a 1/8th-mile IHRA drag strip today.
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1970
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North Wilkesboro Drag Strip, ​​​​ 1968 topo map
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Wilkesboro Dragway, Dec. 25, 1990, pan to 2 minute mark in this 4 minute clip

Person County Drag Strip/Roxboro Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1959-present
 
In 1959, John Henry Garrett, with the help of his wife Ruby and his sons Keith, Michael, and Gary, opened Person County Dragstrip. The name was changed to Roxboro Dragway in the 1977 season. Garrett opened the drag strip with a dirt surface.  In 1961, Garrett had the track paved for the first time. It was barely wide enough for two cars. Garrett filed incorporation papers for the track on January 11, 1967. The track was later widened to it's current width in 1970. It was a quarter-mile track during the ownership of the Garretts.  In 1962, Ronnie Sox raced at the 1st Annual Easter Bash. On May 23, 1971, Reid Whisnant drove the Sox & Martin Plymouth Duster to the Pro Stock championship in the National Association of Auto Racing's spring championship. He ran a top speed of 140.18 MPH and low ET of 9.94. On Easter Sunday, April 22, 1973, Ronnie Sox beat Ken Dodero, who was driving Don Nicholson's Pinto in three straight races. Sox returned on Monday, beating Nicholson himself in two straight match races, recording a best of 9.12 ET and 148.50 MPH. On July 28, 1974, Don Carlton set a Pro Stock track record with a run of 7.36 seconds at 149.00 MPH. On that same day, Herb McCandless drove his final race for Sonny Shipmon's Burlington-based "Brooklyn Heavy" team, which disbanded because of economic reasons. On March 31, 1975, Ronnie Sox set a track record of 8.59 seconds and 159.96 MPH in a match race against Don Nicholson. The track changed its name to Roxboro Dragway in 1976. Garrett owned and operated the dragway until 1981. In 1981, former racer Richard "Sonny" Shipmon took over the track management duties. Henry and Jerry Martin have owned and operated the track since 2003. In 2006 they expanded the pit area to accommodate new drivers and fans. They resurfaced the strip with concrete. As of 2014 the new owners of Roxboro Motorsports Park are Danny Grizzard and Junior Ward. It operates as a 1/8th-mile race track under IHRA sanction.
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December 8, 1985
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Roxboro Dragway, 2007, 9:13 minutes
November 16, 1979

Piedmont Drag Strip/Dragway (Julian)

  • Years of Operation: 1957-present

Piedmont Dragway's official website states that the race track dates back to 1957. Newspaper research has been unable to find any documentation earlier than about 1958. Until about 1991, it was called Piedmont Drag Strip, but in about 1972 it began being also known as Piedmont Dragway. In 1958, the strip held weekly races on Sunday. At the opening race in 1963 (January 27), Ronnie Sox won the Super Stock class in his '63 Chevy. Bob Starr owned the strip in 1965. Paul Buckner, age 54, was hit by a car and killed while he was removing an object from the path of a road sweeper on the strip on April 22, 1968. On April 22, 1973, David Sox, Ronnie's brother, ran a Sox & Martin car in a winning 5.85 ET at 121.00 MPH at the 1/8th-mile track. It is located at 6750 Holts Store Road in Julian. In 1966, the strip was the location for a Ku Klux Klan rally. It operates today (2016) as a 1/8th-mile IHRA track.
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1958
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1966
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Stock & Super Stock eliminations at Piedmont Dragway, in ca. 2007, 10 minutes, announcer is marvelous
June 24-25, 1972

Pisgah Drag Strip

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  • Years of Operation: 1959
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

This track was located near the Pisgah School on the Pisgah Highway. It opened for its first race at least by September 6, 1959. More research is needed.
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1959

Rockingham Dragway ​(Marston)

  • Years of Operation: 1970-present

Construction was underway in 1964 on the North Carolina Motor Speedway, located ten miles north of Rockingham on a 175-acre tract of land. It was a project master-minded by Harold W. Brasington and W. R. "Bill" Land. Besides the big speedway, they projected other racing facilities including a half-mile dirt stock car oval and a paved half-mile drag strip. Initial plans projected the drag strip to be ready in late summer 1964. But the project was delayed for five years until Land and L. G. Dewitt put things in motion in 1969. It opened for racing, north of the big NASCAR speedway and across Highway 1, under AHRA sanction in 1970. In the June 1969 issue of Hot Rod, it stated that an NHRA-sanctioned race would be held on September 26-28, 1969, but that didn't seem to happen. It was called Rockingham International Dragway in 1969-72. The track's first big race was a 3-day AHRA Pro-Am Grand American event on April 17-19, 1970. The Sunday finale drew 30,000 spectators. On Saturday, Art Arfons set a world drag racing record in his "Cyclops" jet dragster with a run of 276.07 MPH.  Ronnie Sox defeated Don Nicholson in Super Stock. Gene Snow won funny car and John Wiebe took top fuel.  The track hosted the 3rd annual IHRA Pro-Am Nationals on April 30, 1972. Winners in the pro categories were Billy Campbell (top fuel), Pat Foster (funny car), and Ronnie Sox (pro stock). Chris Karamesines had the fastest run of the meet at 6.36 seconds at 230 MPH. Pat Foster set an IHRA world record, driving for Barry Setzer, with a run of 6.40 at 233.83 MPH. In mid-September 1972, the track hosted the IHRA U.S. Open Drag Championships. Carl Olson beat both Don Garlits and Tommy Ivo to win top fuel. Richard Tharp took the funny car title in his "Blue Max" Mustang while Ronnie Sox won pro stock. During a rain delay at a 3-day event in May 1974, three separate male streakers "entertained" the crowd. It was widely reported. News reports noted that the 50-year-old male chalked up a lower elapsed time than his younger cohorts.  It has affiliated with other sanctioning bodies since its opening: IHRA (1971-88, 1999-present) and NHRA (1989-98). Steve Earwood became the owner in 1992.
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1970
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Rockingham Dragway, quick view of drag strip from behind cockpit of jet dragster as it blasts down track, 2015, 5 minutes, filmed by Robert Albertson
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Salisbury Super Speedway


In July 1959, newspapers reported that 1/8th-mile drag races would be run on a straight-away of this 5/8-mile oval speedway track, which was constructed in 1958 at a cost of $150,000. The track had been idle since 1940, and was situated on the grounds of the old Rowan County Fairgrounds. It bordered U.S. Highway 29 and was only 500 feet from the new county airport. Drag races were scheduled to be run every Friday night when stock car races were not being run. There was also a Sunday drag race on September 6.  The drag races were sanctioned by the International Timing Association. Research didn't find drag races being held here beyond those conducted in 1959.
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Sandy Run Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1960-ca. 1966
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

Most of what is known about this strip comes from Walt McIntyre :  "Believe it or not, there was two other dragstrips within four miles of Shadyside and they were all running at the same time. Shadyside was the first one, owned by Marshall Hamrick. The next one that opened up was called Sandy Run. It was located about three miles west of Shadyside. It was owned by the Hunt family. The next one that opened up was on the same road as Sandy Run about a mile away. It was called Hilltop. I don't remember who owned it. I guess they all saw how good Marshall Hamrick was doing at Shadyside and thought they could get rich too with their dragstrips. It didn't cost much to build a dragstrip back then because they were all dirt. They all had flagmen to start you racing and then had a guy at the finish line on each side to tell who won by holding up a flag on the winning side. Sandy Run opened in 1960, and ran until about 1966. Hilltop opened up about the same time and didn't stay open but a couple of years. Not long ago Butch Green and I went by Sandy Run and talked to the owner. He said the track had grown up, but told us to go on down and look at it, but we didn't, we went on down the road to check out Hilltop. The area had changed so much that we saw where it was, but you couldn't tell that there had ever been a dragstrip there. Racers like myself, Butch Green, Johnny White, Bobby Barr, Ed Price, Alfred Price, Hotdog Price, Robert Davis, Pete Black, Garland Buff, Jim Bridges and many others raced at these tracks on a regular basis. All the tracks were trying to run on Sunday afternoons, then Sandy Run got smart and put a string of lights up down the side of the dragstrip and started opening up on Saturday nights. They had good success doing that."
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Sanford "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1957, 1961
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

In the summer prior to mid-August 1957, a drag strip opened in Sanford. Research has not been able to find its exact location or its years of operation. On February 26, 1961, Grady Brummitt and Larry Brown set a track record (and possibly a national record) in their class driving a 1961 Ford Starliner with a speed of 105.88 MPH. The track was sanctioned by NHRA. On March 5, 1961, Ronnie Sox took the Super Stock class with a 104.62 MPH run. Ronnie Sox kept getting increasingly better and faster, turning a 107.34 MPH on April 8. Sox, who had driven Jack Strader's cars, began running his own car while Ronnie Butler began driving Strader's Pontiac. On June 18, 1961, Sox took second fiddle to Butler, who clocked 107.14 MPH. Glenn Rogers wrote: "When I was a teenager I saw Ronnie at Sanford Drag strip in Sanford, North Carolina. Back then he drove the 409 Chevy, and what a hero he was to me." Billy Bush wrote: "While working in NC in 1961 on many Sundays I would go to Sanford drag strip. Saw Ronnie race what I think was a 61 Impala 409 Chevy. The big event of the day was a match race between a Pontiac, Chevy and a 60 Ford. All were SS class except the Ford which was running a four speed tranny and we all know it was 62 before Ford had a factory four speed." William R. Sloan filed incorporation papers for Sanford Drag Strip on March 10, 1965. More research is needed to determine the track's location and years of operation.
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710 Dragstrip ​(Rowland)

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  • Years of Operation: 1962-present

Established in 1962, the track was located between Rowland and Pembroke. It was completely renovated in 2013-14 and runs today as an IHRA 1/8th-mile track.
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July 26-28, 1968
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CLICK HERE to see brief video footage of 710 Dragstrip, 2011, 2 minutes
1975

Shadyside Drag Strip/Dragway

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1960-present

Most of what is known about the early years of this strip comes from Walt McIntyre :  "Believe it or not, there was two other dragstrips within four miles of Shadyside and they were all running at the same time. Shadyside was the first one, owned by Marshall Hamrick. The next one that opened up was called Sandy Run. It was located about three miles west of Shadyside. It was owned by the Hunt family. The next one that opened up was on the same road as Sandy Run about a mile away. It was called Hilltop. I don't remember who owned it. I guess they all saw how good Marshall Hamrick was doing at Shadyside and thought they could get rich too with their dragstrips. It didn't cost much to build a dragstrip back then because they were all dirt. They all had flagmen to start you racing and then had a guy at the finish line on each side to tell who won by holding up a flag on the winning side. Sandy Run opened in 1960, and ran until about 1966. Hilltop opened up about the same time and didn't stay open but a couple of years. Not long ago Butch Green and I went by Sandy Run and talked to the owner. He said the track had grown up, but told us to go on down and look at it, but we didn't, we went on down the road to check out Hilltop. The area had changed so much that we saw where it was, but you couldn't tell that there had ever been a dragstrip there. Racers like myself, Butch Green, Johnny White, Bobby Barr, Ed Price, Alfred Price, Hotdog Price, Robert Davis, Pete Black, Garland Buff, Jim Bridges and many others raced at these tracks on a regular basis. All the tracks were trying to run on Sunday afternoons, then Sandy Run got smart and put a string of lights up down the side of the dragstrip and started opening up on Saturday nights. They had good success doing that." Thad Cook shared a story about some exciting racing actin at Shadyside:  "I also heard about a guy in a '66-67 Chevelle that was parked behind the tower at Shadyside one time and a fight had broke out in the return road. The track was yelling for him to come run the finals or be d-q'ed. He drove thru the crowd and into the waterbox. Some guy was mad about him doing that and ran and jerked the door open on this guy who just happened to have a loaded .38 beside of the seat. He just pulled the gun and pollitely shot the guy's ear off. He shut the door and went on and ran. Talk about being cool under pressure." In the early 1960s, they raced in the opposite direction, going southeasterly, than today's race track. The track was paved by at least 1967, but lacked a guardrail. Today it operates as a full concrete 1/8th-mile track.
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CLICK HERE to see brief video footage of Shadyside Dragway, 2008, 1:33 minutes

Shelby Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1967-73
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
Frank Spittle said that this track "opened in the sixties but was only open for a few years. It was a nice paved track."  Research has only found news articles about the track in 1967 and 1968. It may have opened before 1967, in fact, it probably did. On Friday night, August 25, 1967, Ted Austin made exhibition runs in Walt Arfons's Mercury Cyclone jet car. Racers from Shelby attended a benefit drag race at Mooresville Drag Strip in September 1968. More research is needed to identify its  specific years of operation.  DSL reader Michael Whitworth pinpointed the track's location to be about three miles southeasterly from Shelby and about one mile east of Highway 180.
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Shuffletown Drag Strip ​(Charlotte)


Located nine miles west of Charlotte on Highway 16, old timers date the opening of this drag strip to 1959. Frank Spittle, an old timer , recalled, "It was built beside a creek in 1959 at the request of the Charlotte police department to get hot rodders off the street. It was a 1/5th mile dirt track. I bought my first motorcycle, a '57 Triumph Bonneville, in 1963 and started racing it there. The track was paved in 1964 and shortened to an 1/8 mile. I made at least 1000 passes down that track over the next 19 years on various motorcycles from street bikes to twin engine T/F Harleys. It was a very narrow track but there were few accidents. In over 30 years of racing there was not a single fatal crash. The original promoter organized great races and would pack the place. It was open year round, weather permitting. In 1969 I was racing my A/F Harley there and the top draw was a match race between Don Garlits and Tommy Ivo." Circa 1962, it ran regular Saturday and Sunday programs. On Sunday, July 30, 1972, Don Helms fell 300 feet to his death when a kite he was riding plunged to the ground at the drag strip. The strip owner, Tom Ferrell, said he was practicing his act for a performance he was planning on giving at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. "Scratch" Whisnant, a Mt. Holly barber, was the promoter. It was Spittle's opinion that the change in management in the late 1980s was a factor in the closing of the track. It was also the misfortune of the track to be located in a place with ever-encroaching houses. There were attempts to try to close it down for years, but they weren't successful until they finally annexed themselves to Charlotte. They did this because they learned that Charlotte had existing noise ordinances. So they became a part of Charlotte just so they could shut down the drag strip. And they did. A lot of old timers remember the track's great announcer, Larry Wright. The track, which is still there, is now on property used for a city park.
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1966
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May 8, 1966
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November 15, 1970
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Shuffletown Drag Strip in 1974, 2 minutes, no sound/music only

Smoky Mountain Dragway (Cherokee)

 
Information about this 1/8th-mile strip comes from the memories of old racers and some newspaper sources. The strip was located between Sylva and Cherokee, close to the Tuckasegee River off Highway 441. A newspaper article reporting on a race held on October 17, 1965 said that Smoky Mountain Dragway was a new strip. Jimmy Boyd from Greenville took top stock eliminator at that race in his Doc Wilson-engineered Hemi-Hercules Plymouth. He had won there previously so the October 17 race was not the track's first race. Boyd won for the third straight time on October 31. Given that, it may be that the track's first race occurred on October 3, 1965. It wasn't too long before the track was offering some attractive purses and enticing some name racers to give the track a try. On November 7, some of the super stock racers who competed included Herb McCandless, Gene Hinson, and Bob Collins. Racers in the fuel injected-altered wheelbase class included Shirl Greer, Billy Jacobs, and Robert Nance.  It was called Smoky Mountain Dragway in a list of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .  It was sanctioned by AHRA in 1968. A 1971 ad stated that the strip was six miles south of Cherokee on Highway 441. This places it just south of Qualla. An old racer situated the strip between the towns of Sylva and Cherokee:  "It was between Sylva and Cherrokee, close to the river.  I won 10-second eliminator one Sunday in 1971 in a '59 Ford. The guy I was racing missed a shift. I was 16 years old." One old timer who raced there in the late 1960s recalled, "We won a few coins there against some big name drivers. Platt was supposed to show but didn't. The track ended in a corn field beside a river."  Another  old timer recalled, "We went there many times. It was next to the river. The stopping distance was so short that they actually ran 600 feet toward the last [years the track operated] with the faster cars showing up. I saw Hubert Platt spin his '68 1/2 Mustang CJ around at the end of the pavement.  He didn't realize that they had taken the fence down and you could go on into a flat pasture at the end if you couldn't get stopped." And yet another old timer spoke with Chris Karamesines about running at the Sylva strip. He said, "He's told me that is the scariest track he ever ran on, two narrow strips that bend to miss the river." One racer remembered racing there in 1968:  "One meet I am particularly interested in at Cherokee was paying five places. The winner got to run all the other winners and could take home all the marbles if he was good enough. At that time there was a crippled gentleman running it. I had first place in the bag and just basically screwed up against a '68 Hemi Cuda called 'The Thumper.' Robert Nance of Ringgold, Georgia, got 4th. I won 3rd by putting 'The Thumper' on the trailer, I guess to show him I could. My screw-up cost me 200 bucks that day. A lot of money in '68."  Another old racer remembered racing his '70 Fairlane:  "We were there for a two day show once and camped out there. I won my bracket and got some polish, a quart of oil, a can of STP and $7.00 if I remember right. I redlighted to a slower car in eliminations." 
 
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June 30, 1968
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June 6, 1971

Southern Quarter Drag Strip ​​(Hallsboro)

  • Years of Operation: 1963-64
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
Located four miles north of Hallsboro on the Elkton Road, this drag strip opened at least by 1963. Newspaper ads and articles touted the running of the "biggest race of the summer" on June 9, 1963. They were offering a total purse of $650 to winners in four classes. Some of the Super Stock racers expected to attend included Gene Hinson of Dunn ("Little Boy Blue"), Julian Peele of Jacksonville ("Strip Teaser"), and Harold Benton of Goldsboro ("Blue Safari"). Research was unable to uncover any information about this track except in 1963 and 1964. More research is needed.

 
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June 9, 1963

Sportsman Park Drag Strip/Farmington Dragway

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  • Years of Operation:  1963-present

This track opened at least as early as 1963, known then as Sportsman Park Drag Strip. It was located eighteen miles west of Winston-Salem on Highway 801.  An article in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Nov. 24, 1966, stated that jet dragster driver Doug Rose, whose feet were amputated after a crash at Cedar Bluff, Virginia, on July 4, 1966, would make exhibition runs at this drag strip on Sunday, November 27, 1966. He would be driving a rebuilt Green Monster dragster in one of his first appearances since the accident. At least by early 1967, it was running under NHRA sanction. On Sunday, November 5, 1967, seven jet dragsters competed in the Jet Nationals for a $7,000 purse. The drivers include Doug Rose, Bob Motz, Dale Hubler, Fred Sibley, Bob Tatroe, Ted Austin, and Ted Trischler.  In about 1968, the name of the strip was changed to Farmington Dragway. An advertisement for a fuel funny car show at Farmington Raceway Park listed twelve cars that would appear on Friday, September 7, 1973, at Farmington.  Twelve big-name funny cars were booked to make runs at Farmington on Friday and at Shuffletown on Sunday. The racers included Roland Leong, Gene Snow, Mickey Thompson, and Stone-Woods-Cook. In 1978, the track was sanctioned by IHRA, which hosted an IHRA Title Series meet on July 29-30. Research hasn't shown if it ever was a quarter-mile track, but by the late 1970s it was timing racers for 1/8th-mile. IHRA pro stock championship meets were held at Farmington from 1980 to 1982. In 1983 and 1985, it hosted another IHRA Title Series 2-day race. In the 1980s, it became a favorite track for Harley Davidson and VW racing associations. It continues to operate as an IHRA 1/8th-mile sanctioned strip today.
September 7, 1973
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Advertisement in ​​​Dixie Drag News, May 1, 1963. Courtesy of W. C. Williams
Sportsman Park Drag Strip, ​ 1967 topo map
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Farmington Dragway, 2013, 54 seconds

Starlite Drag Strip (Monroe)


Owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Parks Williams, this dirt drag strip was located a mile northwest of Monroe, between the Old Charlotte Highway and U. S. Highway 74. They ran the drag race program for two years, then expanded by building a half-mile dirt oval on the property in 1962. They built grandstand seating for 6,000 people at the oval. When the oval opened, they changed the drag races to Wednesday nights. Frank Spittle raced at Starlite in 1961:  "In 1961 I was a high school student with a passion for racing. There was a drag strip just a few miles from our home but I knew if I raced my '51 Chevy there my dad would probably hear about it. So I drove to another track about 30 miles away. It was a dirt track and closed a year later after being converted to a round track." Research hasn't shown if drag races were held after 1962, but likely the focus shifted just to the oval racing. Racing stopped at the speedway oval in 1978 and it was demolished in 1985.
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Sunset Drag Strip (Lincolnton)

  • Years of Operation: 1959-60
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

When the Boger City races got rained out, the Road Angels moved their racing to Lincolnton on May 10, 1959. Sonny Sipe of Gastonia was the top eliminator in his 1923 Model T truck. On July 19, 1959, Blair Keener raced his Pontiac against G. T. Hyder's Pontiac at Sunset in a competitive match of sorts.
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Wadesboro "Drag Strip"


Frank Spittle recalled there being a paved 1/8th-mile track in Wadesboro. Research in newspapers or online hasn't uncovered any information about this strip. However, Walter G. Knotts, living in Wadesboro, filed incorporation papers on August 23, 1965 for Anson Drag Strip, Inc. Research in newspapers couldn't find any information about a drag strip by that name. One likely site of the old drag strip is the ground that was turned into an airport, located about two miles east of the town, in about 2006. In aerial views, it appears that there was what looked to be possibly an old drag strip on that site before the airport.

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1993 aerial view of the possible location of the drag strip in Wadesboro

Walker Heights Drag Strip (Gastonia)

  • Years of Operation: 1955-68
  • Status:  Exact locatiion unknown
 
The Gastonia Gear Grinders car club was organized in 1953. In January 1955, the Gear Grinders started grading work on a drag strip four miles south of Gastonia on York Road (see Gastonia "Drag Strip" entry above). Research hasn't uncovered whether the track was finished or put into operation at that time. For several years, nothing was reported about this strip in newspapers. Then in 1959, the Gastonia Gazette (July 18, 1959) reported that the Gear Grinders would hold the opening race at their new drag strip, called Walker Heights Drag Strip, on July 19, 1959. The directions placed this strip in the same general location as reported in 1955 news articles. It was reached by driving from Gastonia on the Dallas-Cherryville Highway about four miles to the new strip.  Brian Brown, reference librarian at the Gaston County Public Library in Gastonia wrote DSL that the Dallas-Cherryville Highway was Highway 277 at that time, but now it is Highway 279. It may have been located a couple of miles east of Cherryville. This was an oiled dirt drag strip, which a 1963 newspaper article said "had more than its share of ruts and large holes. The dust kicked up as the races took place was terrible." (Gastonia Gazette, Aug. 4, 1963) The track was insured and races were scheduled to run every Sunday. On August 9, 1959, the largest crowd of the season saw Leon Cloninger upset Zeke Harder '59 Pontiac to garner top eliminator. In 1963, the track was paved with two ashpalt lanes and electric timing equipment was installed. These improvements saw attendance increase from 400 to over 1,000 per event. W. T. Queen, a co-owner with Russ Riner, managed the track in 1963. Dockie Tripplet of Boone held the track record in Super Stock at 117 MPH in his '63 Ford. One of the co-owners was Russ Reimer. In 1964, they lengthened the shutdown area to make it safer. On September 19, 1964, the track owner let the Ku Klux Klan hold a rally at the strip. Six hundred robed Klansmen attended the rally in which a 30-foot cross was burned next to the track. In 1966 the track was owned by James McDaniel.   Walt McIntyre recalled racing after hours at Walker Heights:  "I always liked racing at Walker Heights too. Walker Heights didn't have the track fenced in or didn't lock the gate. Can you remember when we went over there when the track was closed and Bobby Barr came up the track the wrong way after making a run and didn't get stopped and jumped over the highway into a pile of gravel that the state had on the side of the road?"   Thad Cook shared some stories about racing at Walker Heights:  "I heard a story about Bobby Roberts going to Walker and winning and the crowd was wanting to jump on him and his crew and he drove past the trailer hollering for them to meet him down the road with the truck and trailer, and left his prize money and trophy there!" In 1975, the Gastonia Jaycees were planning on holding an amusement fair at the site of the old drag strip, but decided to move it to the Gastonia Fairgrounds because they decided there wasn't enough space at the old strip to handle the fair.  The newspapers wrote that the old strip was five miles west of Dallas crossroads.  In 1976, the track owner was advertising for someone to take over the site of the 1600-foot long track on 63 acres on a long-term lease.
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1959
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August 22-23, 1964
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June 26, 1966
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July 6, 1968