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Ohio
Drag Strips

Dragway 42, circa 1972. Photographer unknown.

Cleves

  • Edgewater Sports Park, early 1960s

I raced my 1961 Renault Dauphine in G/SP at Cleves, but never won there. I also raced at Muncie and Pence drag strips. Cleves drew more big-name race cars than either Muncie or Pence back then.
Bill Gregg
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Time slip for Gregg's 1961 Renault Dauphine: 23.02 E.T. and 55.21 MPH.. Courtesy of Bill Gregg
  • Edgewater Sports Park

My dad raced in Edgewater and won a trophy. His name was Jack Hurley. He raced a 1955 or 1957 Olds. It was the family car!! I am searching for pictures or anything to share with my children and grandchidren! He has passed away and like anything, we forget to ask when we are young.
Phyllis Hurley Ripple

Dayton

  • Dahio Airport Drag Strip, 1960

After about the third Sunday of the season, I become the flag man at Dahio drag strip. I flagged most of the season even though I was only 16 at the time.  At the time I belonged to an NHRA sanctioned  car club and Dahio was an NHRA strip. The car clubs ran the strip and our club got the starting line and our president worked in the timing trailer. About the third Sunday the flag man didn’t show. He’d joined the service and the owner needed someone to flag and no one else wanted the job so I took it. The year was 1960 and I was 16. “Ohio” George Montgomery would visit the strip every so often as did Gordon Collett. One Sunday Connie Kalitta showed up looking for Collett and that turned out to be a pretty interesting Sunday. I remember one Sunday, George showed up with the '33 Willy’s. I believe it was still Cadillac powered, and was getting ready to make a pass when Jeg Coughlin Sr. showed up with his A/A. Montgomery put the Willy’s back on the trailer and went home. The pictures are what the drag strip looks like  now and they were taken in 2014.
Ken Thomas
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Site of Dahio Airport Drag Strip, 2014. Courtesy of Ken Thomas

Hebron

  • National Trail Raceway, 1990s

National Trail Raceway was the site of Van Slam events from the late 70's until the mid-90's. This event was a 'vans only' event that included all the craziness that goes with the same. I began vanning in 1973 with the 1969 Chevy Van that I still own, and attended meets from Canada to Florida, Kansas to Maryland. But Van Slam was my favorite from my first time in 1990. I drove "Spellbinder" the almost 400 miles to National Trail, had a blast with the other vanners and the crazy games (I had quit hard partying by then). There would always be burnout contests in the return lanes on Saturday. Then we'd hit the dragstrip on Sunday. Many of the attendees had been imbibing in 'something' since their arrival, some since Thursday, so, needless to say, their reaction times were not so good! "Spellbinder" ran a mild 350 SBC w/a 3.70 Posi. After adding a 125hp shot of nitrous, I turned a few 13.80 ET's, not bad for a box with a full custom interior. I always tell people that over my lifetime I have been in almost every conceivable "entertainment situation" imaginable, but the van meets are the most fun. And National Trail was a huge part of it.
Glenn Bell
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"Spellbinder" van, racing at 1993 Van Slam, National Trail Raceway. Courtesy of Glenn Bell
  • National Trail Raceway

We were at Columbus Ohio, at National Trails Raceway. Four of us went out to eat at a barbeque restaurant. I remember it was Jim Collins, myself and two others, maybe Terral, Harry, anyway we were seated in a booth and the waitress took our order for drinks. When she returned she asked where we were from?  We told her and I said I was from New Mexico and had she ever seen rattlesnake eggs? Rattlesnake eggs is an envelope about 2 inches by 4 inches. It has a coiled rattlesnake printed on the front and the words “open with caution” and “store in a cool place.”  Inside is a U-shaped wire with a rubber band to both sides of the U.  In the middle of the rubber band is a metal washer. When the washer is twisted in the rubber band, it spins around when it is released.  It  is inserted in the envelope with the rubber band wound up. The sides of the envelope keep the metal washer wound up.  When the envelope opens it gives off a loud rattling, buzzing sound.  I handed her the envelope. She carefully opened it. It loudly buzzed and she jumped back and threw it on the table in front of us. She then laughed and asked me to set it up again as she wanted to borrow it. When she got it, she went in the kitchen of the restaurant.  A few minutes  later we heard a loud scream and the crashing of dishes. I was sure we would be asked to leave. Everyone in the restaurant looked around. She returned the envelope and when we paid our bill I told the cashier to give the eggs to her to keep.  Another time Terral Klaassen and I were at the Dallas Motorplex. In  those days we did not have a trailer, just a tent and table for fuel check. There were bales of hay at either end of our tent to keep cars on the return road from hitting our tent. We had a security guard stationed by us. He came over and sat on one of the bales of hay. He had on a 10-gallon hat and a belt buckle the size of a Volkwagon hub cap. He started telling us of all the bull riding he had done in the Dallas area.  I asked him if he had ever seen rattlesnake eggs.  He said no. I handed him the envelope and he opened it. When it went off, he rolled over backward off the bale of hay and rolled down the embankment behind him. He jumped up ready to run. Needless to say, Terral and I laughed the whole weekend.  [see Dale Schafer's entry for Clermont, Indianapolis Raceway Park for description of the rattlesnake eggs envelope gag]  
Dale Schafer,
NHRA fuel check official
  • National Trail Raceway, 1960s

We also did a lot of racing at National Trail in Columbus. Here is a picture of my car in 1968. It was the very first run on the car, we ran 8.02 on gas. That was only 3/10ths off the national record. We ran faster later that day.
Ron Stevens
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Ron Stevens, National Trail Raceway, 1968. Courtesy of Ron Stevens
  • National Trail Raceway

I ran at National Trails with my '48 Anglia in B Gas.
Joe "Muggs" Tichenor
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Courtesy of Muggs Tichenor

Howland

  • Howland Drag Strip, 1957

The first drag race I went to was at Howland in 1957. I was 16 years old at the time and it was the first place I ever raced in a 1952 Ford. My two most vivid memories are that they had a flag man. In my first race, I looked at the driver of the other car. It was a very narrow strip. I thought, "Man, this guy is ugly." The flag dropped and he took off. Naturally I lost the race. The other memory is of a guy on a motorcycle. He lost control, fell off the bike and his body went through the lights at over 80 mph. The bike went off the track, but his body didn't. He was OK.
Ron Stevens

Hyde Park

  • Hyde Park Drag Strip, 1959

My grandfather passed away, leaving behind trophies and little information. We know he raced back in the day. He has one trophy from Magnolia Speed Track 1959 [see below], one from Hyde Park 1959, Quaker City Drag Strip [see Salem below], and Dragway 42 in West Salem [see below]. Any information will help, would like to share with my cousins and uncles. His name is George Bruce Lytton.
Cam Jellison
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Class trophy won by George Bruce Lytton at Hyde Park Drag Strip in 1959. Courtesy of Cam Jellison
  • Hyde Park Drag Strip, 1960s

We also raced at Hyde Park. On your site it mentions a hill in the shut-off area. I have to say, it was a HILL. We were at the top when a race car lost its brakes and went over the top and landed in a tree. That's how steep it was. There was also a motercycle hill climb track there. It was so steep I don't know how those fellows ever got up it. Not sure they did.
Ron Stevens
  • Hyde Park Drag Strip, 1960s

My oldest brother, James Vernon Barnhill, raced this Corvair at Hyde Park. This picture, taken in 1964, shows four trophies sitting on the hood. He died in 2005.
Bob Barnhill
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Courtesy of Bob Barnhill

Kettlersville

  • Kettlersville Drag Strip, 1960s

I raced at Kettlersville until 1964. It was a 1/5th mile track! I had a 1955 Chevy convertible with a 409 in it! Bill and Jack Mead from Kalida, Ohio, owned the track then. I've got a million stories. They had a big 2-day meet and Saturday after the races, we went to the local pub and closed it down. Got back to the track about 4 or 5 AM. Two guys from Port Clinton, Ohio, had a Ford Thunderbolt there. I slept in that for a couple of hours before the Sunday races started!
Peter R. Dauer
  • Kettlersville Drag Strip, 1968

We only raced at Kettlersville 2 or 3 times in about 1968. The story was the farmer contracted to build a 1/4 mile strip and 1320' was all that was paved. So IIRC they raced 1/5 mile and only had about 250' feet of paved shutdown before you hit the gravel. The pits were just dirt, or mud if it rained recently. They had a track records meet one night and we (partner Jack Ninke) set the record for the class.
Tom Pfeifer
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 Jack Ninke and Tom Pfeifer made some jackets when they raced a '52 Studebaker at several Ohio and Michigan tracks. This is the front of Tom's jacket. See the back side of the jacket (below) in Tom's recollections of Dragway 42. Courtesy of Tom Pfeifer

Magnolia

  • Magnolia Speed Track, 1959

My grandfather passed away, leaving behind trophies and little information. We know he raced back in the day. He has one trophy from Magnolia Speed Track 1959, one from Hyde Park 1959 [see Hyde Park above], Quaker City Drag Strip [see Salem below], and Dragway 42 in West Salem [see below]. Any information will help, would like to share with my cousins and uncles. His name is George Bruce Lytton.
Cam Jellison
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Class trophies won by George Bruce Lytton at Magnolia Drag Strip in 1959. Courtesy of Cam Jellison
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Mansfield

  • Mansfield Drag Strip, 1958

I attended the big race at Mansfield in 1958.  My father had told me if I won Top Eliminator, he would buy me a blower for my car.  I ran for the top spot, but I didn't win.  A couple of things I remember have mostly to do with some of the cars that were there.  One that surprised everyone was a '58 Edsel Ranger with stick shift.  It was definitely modified and was very fast.  Shreve Automotive had built three of the cars running including a '56 Olds and two '58 Corvettes.  The Olds was a 2-door hardtop with a 6-71 blown Olds engine and surprisingly was driven by a guy using hand controls.  The two Corvettes were silver and were prepared for sports car racing.  They were nice, but I ran one of them and beat him in my '32 Ford coupe.  Another item is that there was a guy there with a beautiful T-Bucket built like the one Kookie drove in '77 Sunset Strip.'  He was trying to sell it and was asking $1800.  Doesn't sound like much today, but you could buy a new '57 Chev 210 for that then.
Max Williamson

Norwalk

  • Norwalk Dragway, 1960s

I broke two other AHRA records with the same car in different classes at Norwalk and Thompson in 1969. My partner was Jack Ninke.  Back then, I ran several different cars just playing around, but the Studebaker was the one that got more attention and was real competitive. I had so many trophies (well over 100) that when I moved to Arizona, I just took off the nameplates and donated them to the junior bowling league people.
Tom Pfeifer
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Pfeifer-Ninke N/SA 1952 Studebaker at Norwalk Dragway.. Courtesy of Tom Pfeifer

Proctorville

  • Riverside Drag Strip, 1960s

My dad, Paul "Tom" Febes, was a motorhead and raced at Pacemakers in the early 70's. We have several trophies he earned there in '70 and '71. He raced several different vehicles over the years, but his favorite was a '64 Dodge truck. He also had several trophies with Riverside on them. I know very little as I was a child. Mom is very ill and her memory is fading quickly.  She says Dad helped build Riverside, doing the backhoe and bulldozer work.  He was paid $700 cash (a fortune back then) which he put in his wallet in his back pocket and climbed up on the dozer.  Hours later when he climbed down, his wallet and money were gone, buried I suppose under the track.  I do remember going to the track with him and my family, which Mom hated to do because of the noise.  The final trip was when a good friend of Dad's was in a deadly crash at the strip and his wife and son were seated with us, watching.  Mom said no more.  Dad raced a little after that, but we didn't go with him.  He always loved it, though, and would help friends in the pit.  He kept his Dodge truck that he raced until just a couple years before he died.  It's at the Chrysler Museum in Michigan now.
Teresa Waits

Reynoldsburg

  • Columbus Drag Strip, 1956-57

In 1954, 6 or 7 of the local car clubs decided that some kind of working agreement was needed between the clubs. Several meetings later they all joined the N.H.R.A. Charter Club Program. Then in 1955 the Mid Ohio Timing Association was formed. With all the clubs being members of the N.H.R.A., we convinced them to have a drag race in the central Ohio area. The N.H.R.A. Drag Safari came to Columbus to Don Scott Airfield. We had over 10,000 spectators and 400 plus entered to compete. With all that interest in the area we wanted to have a drag strip around close to run on. Two local business men decided to invest in what they called Columbus Drag Strip. It was east of Reynoldsburg on the south side of route 40. They asked the M.O.T.A. members to operate the strip. Late in September of 1956 after about 2 months of working on weekends we opened the strip and ran 3 events and we thought they were very successful. 1957 was not as good due to rain outs and poor drainage. We ran our first event late in May and then rain shut us down until the end of June. When we did get to run we saw that the strip was starting to break up. We asked the owners to repave and they said they didn't have the money. The members of M.O.T.A. held a meeting and decided to not run any more drags because it was unsafe. That was about July, I think, and we walked away from operating the strip. It was a 1/5 mile strip and every one wanted to run the 1/4 mile so they went to other strips and Columbus Drag Strip closed down. The M.O.T.A. members were the manpower to make the strip a place to go to and we worked hard to clean up the pit side so people would want to come back. The spectator side was just a mound of dirt and people could see all of the strip from almost anywhere they wanted to sit. There was plenty of parking area that we cleared with some members' tractors. The wives handled the gate and concession stand and also worked in he tower. This was a dream for most of us and it broke our hearts when we had to shut it down. To become an N.H.R.A. Charter Club we were asked not to support any drag strips that were not sanctioned by N.H.R.A. About that same time in the north end of Columbus was a strip operated by the Torqers hotrod cclub at Northway Airport. It was not N.H.R.A. sanctioned so we couldn't run there. Some of the M.O.T.A. members did go up there and run their cars. Our club members voted to not go so we did not.
Bill Hunter, 
letter to  Josh Quellhorst.
Courtesy of Josh Quellhorst 
  • Columbus Drag Strip, 1960s

For many years, I would ride by bike to the old entrance of this old drag strip. I was born in 1956 so all that remained was just small clumps of asphalt and the skeleton frame of a wooden scaffold starting stand. It was something that still remains strong in my mind.  If you look at the entrance to Carter Lumber and look south, that row of trees is where the track was. I also remember standing on old Route 440 and watching the drag racing on the weekend nights.
John Ockovic 

Salem

  • Quaker City Drag Strip, 1959

My grandfather passed away, leaving behind trophies and little information. We know he raced back in the day. He has one trophy from Magnolia Speed Track 1959 [see above], one from Hyde Park 1959 [see above], Quaker City Drag Strip, and Dragway 42 in West Salem [see below]. Any information will help, would like to share with my cousins and uncles. His name is George Bruce Lytton.
Cam Jellison
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Class trophy won by George Bruce Lytton at Quaker City Drag Strip. Courtesy of Cam Jellison

Sidney [Lockington]

  • Pence Drag Strip, 1962

I raced (and won) at Pence in September, 1962. I raced in G/Sport driving a 1961 Renault Dauphine, my family's first second car. It was not indestructible. I raced against a VW. The VW driver I beat at Pence  was really pissed.  I have the trophy clearly marked, but no longer have the $2 prize money. I also raced at Muncie (Indiana) and Cleves (near Cincinnati, Ohio), but only won at Pence.
Bill Gregg
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Bill Gregg's G/SP 1961 Renault Dauphine, with Pence Drag Strip trophy on hood. Courtesy of Bill Gregg
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G/SP class trophy won by Bill Gregg at Pence Drag Strip on September 23, 1962. Courtesy of Bill Gregg
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Art Arfons' Green Monster jet dragster in the pit area. Courtesy of Bill Gregg
  • Pence Drag Strip, 1957

In Ohio, I raced at Pence's, Kil Kare, Hyde Park, Thompson, 42, Quaker City, Norwalk, National Trail, Marion & Toledo.  One of the things I remember about Pence's was pulling in, there was a sign that said "Pence's Drag Strip & Turkey Farm." I still have the very first trophy that I won from there.
Ron Stevens
  • Pence Drag Strip, 1960s

Raced at Shelby (Ohio) fairly often in the late 60's. Due to the terrain, the starting line was sunk about 6 feet into the hill, just to make the whole track level. It always visually/mentally felt like you were going uphill.
Tom Pfeifer

Smithfield

  • Friendship Park Raceway, 1973-2003

I was the [first] owner and builder; lots of time and money spent!!  First event and only one event was quarter mile and not safe with no paved shutdown. There was plenty of runway left, just no more money for paving and return road needed paved, too. When I started only the old airport runway was a base for the drag strip. The air strip is 1 mile long !! I installed all the guardrail posts, 350, just on the one side of the track. I had to buy the guardrail from a local junk/scrap yard and bolts and posts.
Bobby Johns

Thompson

  • Thompson Drag Raceway, 1969

I broke two other AHRA records with the Studebaker in different classes at Norwalk and Thompson in 1969. My partner was Jack Ninke.
Tom Pfeifer
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 The Pfeifer-Ninke 1952 Studebaker on the trailer. Courtesy of Tom Pfeifer
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Letter sent to AHRA for approval of record runs made at Thompson Drag Raceway on June 21, 1969. The Pfeifer-Ninke F3/NS Studebaker set a MPH record of 87.97 MPH. Courtesy of Tom Pfeifer
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Record certification for AHRA world record  made at Thompson Drag Raceway on June 21, 1969. The Pfeifer-Ninke F3/NS Studebaker set a MPH record of 87.97 MPH. Courtesy of Tom Pfeifer
  • Thompson Drag Raceway, 1971

I raced my '64 Dodge 330 drag car at Thompson Drag Raceway in Ohio in the early '70s, winning some trophies.
Jim Garren
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Courtesy of Jim Garren

Toledo

  • Greater Toledot Dragway, 1964-66

The Toledo track also went under the name G T (Greater Toledo Dragway), at least during 1964, since the jacket I still have as a class winner in lieu of a trophy has that name on it. Hot Rod Harry might have been either the manager or the announcer that year. The manager in '65 and '66 (the last season), Jack Pfeifer, was my cousin, so I occasionally got a few extra passes in at the end of the main competition. One day in '65, I got to do testing with my GTO against Jim Wangers in the Ace Wilson Geeto Tiger. I had met Milt Shornack, their mechanic in Royal Oak, when he tuned my car, so he thought I'd be a good match for comparison. They were running real low 13's, while I was only going mid-13's. Just for fun I started dropping tire pressure below the normal 16-18 psi and launching higher. When I got down below 10 and put a 5000 rpm launch that pulled them a length in first before they caught and went past me, Milt ran over and asked how I did that. They dropped pressure launched higher and were instantly in the 12's. I had to laugh, since I tried something that they hadn't.
Tom Pfeifer
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Class winner jacket awarded to Tom Pfeifer in 1964 at G. T. Dragway. Courtesy of Tom Pfeifer

Van Wert

  • Van Wert Dragway, 1970-72

I raced at Van Wert Dragway, Van Wert, Ohio, from 1970 to 1972. I raced a 1970 Hemi-Cuda convertible! It was white with black leather interior, automatic trans, 4:10 DragPak! Probably THE FASTEST STOCK HEMI-CUDA EVER! Ran 12's in the 1/4th mile with F-60 Polyglas tires. Tuned and maintained by Pete Dauer Automotive in Kalida, Ohio!
Pete Dauer

West Salem

  • Dragway 42

My grandfather passed away, leaving behind trophies and little information. We know he raced back in the day. He has one trophy from Magnolia Speed Track 1959 [see above], one from Hyde Park 1959 [see above], Quaker City Drag Strip [see above], and Dragway 42 in West Salem. Any information will help, would like to share with my cousins and uncles. His name is George Bruce Lytton.
Cam Jellison
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Class trophy won by George Bruce Lytton at Dragway 42. Courtesy of Cam Jellison
  • Dragway 42, 1964-72

We raced at "42" from 1964 through 1972 starting with a B/C coupe, ending with a AA/GD. My wife had our second baby only two days after running there. The ambulance drivers used to ask her if it were time as we pushed out to start the car. We used to race three days a week, or try anyway. I was at the track the day [April 12, 1964] that Dick VanLuit ran off the end and landed on a car. I worked for Dick at his shop, Dragcraft Engineering, in Bedford, Ohio, so I knew him very well. Anyway, at the end of the track, there was a dirt berm that went up. Sometimes, cars would stop at the end of the berm on the road and watch the races for free. This was the case when Dick's car went off the end of the track. His chute didn't open and the brakes went out. He went over the berm and landed on top of this car that was sitting there. He wasn't hurt, but unfortunately the young man [18-year-old Thomas Southard of Lodi was killed] in the car was. He had a girl [Sandra Pearce, 17, of Medina] with him, but I am not sure what happened to her. Dick kept the shop for a couple of years, but never raced again himself. There was also a dip right at the end of the traps. There was a time that my car hit the dip just as the chute came out. The car bounced and hit the oil pan, splitting it open. I was covered with oil and couldn't see. I just pulled the brakes as hard as I could and hoped I was going straight when I stopped. Luckily, everything was OK.
Ron Stevens
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Ron Stevens wrenching in pits at Dragway 42, spring 1967. Watching him is his wife holding their first son. Courtesy of Ron Stevens
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Ron Stevens making a run at Dragway 42, 1966. Courtesy of Ron Stevens
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Ron Stevens makes valve adjustments on his new AA/GD at Dragway 42. Newspaper clipping photo courtesy of Ron Stevens
  • Dragway 42, 1968-70

I raced at Dragway 42 in Ohio in '68-'70. Was part of the "WreckingCrew" as we collectively broke 63 (?) AHRA records on September 12, 1970.  I broke two other AHRA records with the same car in different classes at Norwalk and Thompson in 1969. My partner was Jack Ninke. Held track records at Toledo, Van Wert, and Kettlersville.
Tom Pfeifer
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 Jack Ninke and I made some jackets when we raced a '52 Studebaker at several Ohio and Michigan tracks. It started as T-Stock and went to U-Stock in NHRA. Then later we ran GHR, F3N, F3NA, F2NA, and F1NA at AHRA tracks, but never bothered to change the jackets.. Courtesy of Tom Pfeifer
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AHRA record certificate, record set by the Pfeifer-Ninke Studebaker on September 12, 1970, at Dragway 42. Courtesy of Tom Pfeifer