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Drag Strip List

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia



Scappoose Airport (1952)
Medford Drag Strip (1956)
White City "Drag Strip" (1957)
The Dalles Municipal Airport (1958)
Aurora "Drag Strip" (1959)
McMinnville Airport (1960)
Woodburn Dragstrip (1961)
Madras Airport Drag Strip (1961)
Western Oregon Dragway (Port Orford) (1962)
Portland International Raceway (1965)
Newport Drag Strip (1968)
T-Bird Drag Strip/Balboa  Park Raceway Drag Strip (Eugene) (1968)
​Redmond Municipal Airport (1983)
Drag racer at Scappoose Airport, 1952. Photographer unknown

Aurora "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1959

Drag races were conducted by the Multnomah Hot Rod Council and Northwest Timing Association on the first and third Sundays. Races were probably held at the Aurora State Airport, two miles northwest of the city of Aurora.
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The Dalles Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1958-60, early 1970s-after 2004?

The Mid-Columbia Timing Association held drag races at The Dalles airport. In 1960 races were held on the third Sunday with the season opening on May 22. Racing in the early 1970s lacked concrete barriers to protect spectators, but those were added later.
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McMinnville Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1960-68

Drag races were conducted by the Columbia Timing Association on a runway of the McMinnville Municipal Airport, at least as early as 1960. That year, races were held every other Sunday starting in mid-May and ending with a two-day race on September 24-25. The racing season stretched from May through October. It was called the McMinnville Drag Strip and operated under NHRA sanction.  It was called the Columbia Timing Association Drag Strip in a listing of U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .  More research is needed.
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CLICK HERE  to see 8mm  video footage of drag races at McMinnville Airport, ca. 1962, 2:56 minutes, no sound/music

Madras Airport Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1958-present

Ken Florey, who is compiling a history of Madras Drag Strip, wrote DSL that "unsanctioned races [were held at Madras] as early as 1958." An NHRA regional race was held at Madras in 1961 (see Hot Rod Magazine, Jan. 1962, p. 84-85). Florey wrote that the "toints race held the summer of 1961 had over 200 cars and about 2000 specators that attended." He also wrote that  the "Loafers Auto Club was a local club that got the Madras Timing Association going." Races were conducted by the Madras Timing Association and held in 1962 on May 6, May 20, and June 16-17. In 1963, races were held on May 12, May 26, June 9, June 23, September 22, and October 10. At a race held on April 5, 1964, trophies were awarded to class winners. Bill Ireland was the runner-up in stock eliminator at the race on April 19, 1964. It was listed in the March 1969 issue of Hot Rod as running under NHRA sanction then. Jim Livingston was the track manager at that time.
CLICK HERE  to see 8mm B&W video footage of Madras Dragstrip, 1963, from Cliff Bugge, 9:30 minutes, no sound/music
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CLICK HERE  to see 8mm video footage of Madras Dragway 1960s, 3:05 minutes, no sound/music

Medford Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1954-61

The Southern Oregon Timing Association first conducted quarter-mile drag races in Medford in the summer of 1956. They gave out trophies to five class winners at their third summer-season race on August 19, 1956. They timed the racing with an electronic clock. The races may have been held on the airport north of town, but more research is needed. On September 12-13, 1959, two days of drag racing were held as part of the Oregon Centennial celebration. Warren Welsh of Reno took top eliminator honors and broke the strip record with a run of 147.54 MPH. On September 10-11, 1960, Medford held what was called the  4th Annual North Western Gas Championships and Exhibition Fuel Runs. This title was reflective of the continuing fuel ban at strips on the West Coast and NHRA tracks around the country. The "Glass Slipper" held the track records in both gas and fuel, 155.17 MPH for the former and 160.87 MPH for the latter.  This strip predates the drag strip at Jackson County Sports Park (now called Champion Raceway), which dates its beginning to about the mid-1980s.
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Newport Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1968-69

It was listed in a listing of U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .  In the May 1969 issue of Hot Rod, it was listed as an NHRA-sanctioned track. Al Beachell managed the track in 1969. Racing likely was conducted at the Newport Municipal Airport south of town, but more research is needed to confirm that.
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Portland International Raceway

  • Years of Operation: 1965-present
The drag strip, incorporated in a race car road course, sits on the site of Vanport, a large housing city built during World War II for shipyard workers. At the time, it was the second largest city in the state of Oregon, home to more than 40,000 people.But in 1948, the entire city of Vanport was demolished by flood waters when the Columbia River crested in the spring and broke the dike.  For many years, only streets and some building foundations were all that remained from old Vanport. In 1960, the city of Portland bought the land from the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1961, the Portland Jaycees envisioned the abandoned roads as a place to hold sports car races. They convinced the Portland Rose Festival Association to sponsor a race as part of the festival activities. The first race, called the Rose Cup Race, was held in June 1961. That race has been a part of the Rose Festival ever since. In early years, the track wasn't called Portland International Raceway. It wasn't called that until the late 1960s and early 1970s. In those earlier years it was referred to as the Vanport Circuit, West Delta Park, or Delta Park Raceway. Drag races started to be run on the straightaway portion of the road course in 1965. It was listed in the March 1969 issue of Hot Rod as running under NHRA sanction then. Al Beachell was the track manager at that time. The race track has undergone several changes in configuration during the years. In the mid-1980s, noise restrictions limited drag racing to only cars that had their headers capped. This  ended the big drag racing events for all intents and purposes. In 2008 and 2009, PIR received permission to hold one event where the noise restrictions would not be enforced. Today the NHRA-sanctioned track holds drag races on a regular basis several days a week.
CLICK HERE to see video footage of NHRA National Open, 2009, 9:59 minutes
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Redmond Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1983-after 1985

In 1983, a group of Redmond businessmen instituted a nostalgia event to draw attention to the Redmond Municipal Airport. It became a Memorial Day tradition until 1986 or later. The events included a Hangar Hop and an 1/8th-mile drag race. The focus was on nostalgia, not speed. 2,500 spectators showed up to watch the 1985 racing.
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Large wooden sign, found in Redmond, purchased at an estate sale. Courtesy of Jill Francis

Scappoose Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1952-59

Scappoose, near Portland, conducted drag races at its airport as early as 1952. In 1955, they held a regional NHRA championship meet there.  On May 27, 1956, police tried to arrest fifteen minors for drinking beer at a drag race conducted by the Columbia Timing Association at the airport. It touched off a near-riot when 500 spectators surrounded the officers, protesting their arrest. The drivers were reportedly cooperative and supportive of the officers, but the spectators caused the problems. This incident caused the county court to rule that there would be no more drag races at the airport in early June 1956. On July 13, 1958, Bud Haines set a world speed record for fuel dragsters under 300 cubic inches with a run of 156.65 MPH. In 1959, races were halted by the county court after a "near riot" when minors were arrested for drinking. The airport is today called Scappoose Industrial Airpark.
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T-Bird Drag Strip/Balboa Park Raceway Drag Strip (Eugene)

  • Years of Operation:  1967-ca. 1975

This 1/8th-mile drag strip in Eugene began life as an airport called T-Bird Airpark. When the airport was first built, sometime between 1945 and 1947, it was called Willamette Airpark, but between 1962 and 1964, the name was changed to T-Bird Airpark. It had a 2,100-foot paved runway, running northwest to southeast. Rod Ormsby invested $28,000 to transform the airstrip into a 1/8th-mile drag strip. He hoped to turn it into a quarter-mile track, but that didn't happen. John Tucker learned to fly at the airpark. He also did odd jobs around the airpark to earn flying time. Tucker recalled, "I think in 1967 they started running drag races there. I worked these races. Looking back I believe they did not charge enough for their [aviation] services and that's why they quit business [in 1967]. The drag races were a way to bring in more revenue. I really do not think they liked having all of that noise and crowds." It started being called Balboa Park Drag Strip because it was near West 11th and Danebo at Balboa Road. Balboa Park Raceway was listed in the March 1969 issue of Hot Rod as running under NHRA sanction. Rod Ormsby managed the track then. Mostly it served the local sportsman racers, but in the mid-1970s, Jim Rockstad and others associated with Seattle International Raceway rented Balboa to run a small funny car show there on a Friday right before a big 64-car funny car show in Seattle. Rockstad managed the drag racing at Portland International Raceway. His job was to get all the timing equipment, traction compound, fire extinguishers, and other necessary equipment to put on a first-class show to Balboa before the race. But the logistics were overwhelming for the little track and it turned into something of a nightmare when they couldn't complete the racing before the 10 PM curfew. Rockstad recalled: "Balboa was a small eighth-mile facility with a few thousand seats and very little parking, and around this time, was about to go away completely as the expanding of businesses in the area were getting closer and closer. It was a slick and bumpy race track that was the worse for wear. This is the same place I had crashed my AA/GS Anglia in 1971, so I was a little taken aback by even just going there. The pit space is very small and we all knew this many funny cars would be jammed into this little, crowded race track. With any size of crowd at all, it would be 'stuffed to the gills' and hard to even run the event. As it all turned out, that is exactly what happened . . . and worse.
The funny car count was somewhere in the 16 or so and that literally made it impossible to move the cars back and forth to the racing surface. It was something the locals in Eugene had never seen because the funny car events there were always been eight-car programs with local cars. This monster event arrived and the crowd knew it. Boy, did they respond. Bill Doner [president of International Raceway Parks] flew to Eugene in a small plane so that he could head back that evening for the big event at SIR. A small airstrip was just a few minutes from the race track. The show that evening was 'Chicago-style' drag racing where the cars are paired up, then make two runs and  the quickest two cars come back for the final. Doner certainly had a way of building that up into a crescendo throughout the evening as the racing wore on. The excitement for the final was well anticipated by the crowd. Doner planted that thought in their minds throughout the evening. The hype was building. There had to be four-to-five thousand people crammed into little ‘ole Balboa Drag Strip that evening and there was literally zero parking anywhere. The cars were lined up on both sides of the highway for as far as the eye could see. It was a traffic nightmare. The racing was terrific. Ed 'the Ace' McCulloch, the Hawaiian, Pisano, the Blue Max, Jungle Jim and even Danny Ongais were just a few of the quality cars that made up the largest field Eugene had ever seen. It was a big-league lineup for Eugene, Oregon.
With the initial two rounds completed, Doner had the fans hyped up awaiting the final as the racers prepared their cars. At some time, well before 10 PM, I was on the starting line watching over the timing equipment when a police office in a suit came to me and said, 
'You have exactly 10 minutes to complete this event. There have been lots of neighbor complaints and this event is done!'” There is no evidence of the old airpark or strip left today, it being completely overgrown with grass and blackberries. The closing of the strip may have happened in 1975, but more research is needed.
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Balboa Park Drag Strip, 1969 topo map

Western Oregon Dragway (Port Orford)

  • Years of Operation: 1962-68

The South Western Oregon Timing Association conducted races every Sunday at an airstrip near Port Orford in 1962. In 1963 on July 21, August 18, and September 29. Races may have been held prior to 1962, but more research is needed. It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .
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White City "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation:   1957-?

White City, located three miles north of Medford, was the site of a World War II Army encampment. After the war, the Veterans Administration established a rehabilitation hospital there, which was called Camp White. In 1959, drag races were conducted at what was called the Camp White Drag Strip or Avenue G Drag Strip. The location was given as being seven miles north of Medford off the Crater Lake highway. The races were sponsored by the Southern Oregon Timing Association. The first race that eight-race season was held on June 14. Races were conducted every other week through August 23. The season culminated with a 2-day Centennial gas champinship on September 12-13. The third annual All-Charity drags were scheduled for September 27, leading to the conclusion that races began at least as early as 1957.  One old timer raced at a drag strip in White City in the early 1960s. He said, "It was an old two lane black top road with 4 foot deep borrow ditches on each side. No timing lights, just a flag on each side of the end of the strip to tell you which lane won. Barney Oilcan, from the Southern Oregon Wheelers car club was the starter. Every once in awhile he'd do a back flip and drop the flag. Saw a lot of 'choking'when he did that."
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Woodburn Dragstrip

  • Years of Operation: 1961-present

The Multnomah Hot Rod Council and the Northwest Timing Association conducted NHRA-sanctioned races beginning in June 1961, running gas only, on the Woodburn Dragstrip. It was twelve miles north of Salem. In 1962-63, it scheduled races two to three days a month.  It ran as an 1/8th-mile track until 1963, at which time it was lengthened to afford quarter-mile racing. Al Beachell was the track manager in 1968.
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June 13, 1965
CLICK HERE to see a Nostalgia drag race dragster make a run on June 29, 1986 at Woodburn, 3 minutes, music/no sound