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Drag Strip List

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia



Ellsworth Air Force Base (1953)
Mitchell Municipal Airport (1960)
Central U.S. Dragway (Pierre) (1962)
Thunder Valley Dragways (Marion) (1967)
Dakota Intermountain Dragway/Black Hills Dragway (Belle Fourche) (1972)
Empire Raceway (Sioux Falls) (1972)
Bleachers a Thunder Valley Dragway. Photographer unknown

Central U. S. Dragway (Pierre)

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1962-63

In June 1962, the Pierre city council approved an application for using a runway at the airport for a drag strip. They stipulated that they must get FAA approval, insurance, release of city liability, agreement to have no refreshment concessions, and to agree to clean and police events. In July, the city gave final approval for the airport drag strip. They were going to charge $100 rent for the remainder of the year. They would charge $200 rent for 1963, with an option to re-lease on an anuual basis. Unfortunately research didn't uncover whether drag races were actually held on the airport in 1962. However, an advertisement for a race on July 21, 1963, showed that the airport strip was being called Central U.S. Dragway. The listing of NHRA-sanctioned tracks in Hot Rod  (August 1963) stated that races were scheduled July 21, August 11, August 25, September 8, September 22, October 6, and October 20.
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Dakota Intermountain Dragway/Black Hills Dragway (Belle Fourche)

  • Years of Operation:  1972-94

Incorporation papers were filed for the quarter-mile Dakota Intermountain Dragway by F. J. Voyles on March 13, 1972. Somewhat confusing is the record of incorporation papers being filed only a month or so later for Black Hills Dragway. They had capital stock of $100,000. The directors listed included Alex and Vesta Walk, and Sam and Pearlette Drole, all of Belle Fourche. The strip and an oval track are still easily seen in aerial photos, located about four miles northwest of Belle Fourche on the north side of Highway 212, adjacent to and parallel to the highway. On Sunday, June 12, 1977, Larry Kisha, driving his "Odyssey 5" jet dragster, broke the previous South Dakota speed mark with a run of 237 MPH. At that time, the strip was being called Black Hills Dragway. A 1985 track guide listed it as being called Black Hills Dragway with Voyles as the owner/operator.
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Ellsworth Air Force Base

  • Years of Operation: ca. 1953-54

The air force base's 28th Wheel Club sponsored drag races on a 600-foot wide, 8,000-foot long runway. See article in Hot Rod Magazine, (May 1954): 38.  More research is needed.
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Empire Raceway (Sioux Falls)

  • Years of Operation:   1972-74, 1986-88

Several newspaper articles mention that drag races were held at Empire Raceway in Sioux Falls in 1974. Races were held on Saturday nights. An online source states that quarter mile racing was conducted from 1972-74 and 1/8th-mile racing from 1986-88.  "Old Timer" wrote that quarter-mile NHRA-sanctioned races were held at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds. At some time during its history, it may have also been called Thunderdome Dragway.
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Mitchell Municipal Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1960
Marvin Thome secured permission from North Central Airlines to use one of two taxi strips at the Mitchell Airport on which to stage a drag race on September 4, 1960. Mitchell city council also passed a motion to allow Thome to hold the races at their airport on that date, provided he obtain insurance. This motorcycle drag race was the final race of the season. The East Deuce Cycle Club put on the race, which attracted a good crowd despite the heat.
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September 4, 1960

Thunder Valley Dragways (Marion)

  • Years of Operation: 1967-present
Al and Glen Rapp started building the drag strip in spring 1966. It was located 2.5 miles east of Marion. The track was 60 feet wide and 3,600 feet long, sanctioned by NHRA. During its first year of operation, a drag race driver was killed when his dragster skidded off the strip and overturned. Jim Studley, of Sioux City, Iowa, was going about 150 MPH when the accident occurred in June 1967. Jim Christensen was the track manager in 1968. On Sunday, April 28, 1968, Don Brescia broke the track record in the Brescia-Crowe-Freeman-Gibson AA/FD from Council Bluffs, Iowa. He turned 185.18 MPH in 8.14 seconds. The track generally hosted NHRA divisional points races each year in the 1970s. In 1975, Thunder Valley was awarded the NHRA Drag Strip of the Year award for the sixth consecutive year in its division.  On April 24, 1977, Rick Johnson drove Bill Schifsky's "Bear Town Shaker" funny car to a track ET record with a 6/47 second run at 214.28 MPH. Jim Christensen was the track manager in the late 1970s. Today it is still owned by Glen Rapp, the original owner, and is an IHRA-sanctioned track.
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June 9, 1968
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Thunder Valley Dragway, late 1960s, first 3:15 minutes of video, no sound/music only