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Connie Kalitta's Bounty Hunter at Bristol International Dragway. Photographer unknown

TENNESSEE

Clarksville "Drag Strip" (1954)
Broadway Drag Strip ​​​(Knoxville) (1955)
Halls Dragway (1955)
Harriman Drag Strip (1956)
Brainerd Optimist Dragstrip (1957)
Old Hickory Speedway Drag Strip (Nashville) (1957)
Buena Ventura Speedway (New Providence) (1958)
Cumberland Dragway (Nashville) (1958)
Fairgrounds Speedway (Nashville) (1958)
Loudon Drag Strip (1958)
Union Hill Raceway/Music City Raceway (Goodlettsville) (1958)
Maryville Dragway (1950s)
Lakeland Dragway/Memphis-Shelby Co. Intl. Raceway (1960)
Smithville Drag Strip (1960)
Pine Knob Drag Strip (Dickson) (1962)
Clarksville Dragway/Speedway (1963)
McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base (Knoxville) (1963)
Rutherford Dragstrip (Smyrna) (1963)
Cherokee Dragstrip/Raceway Park (Rogersville) (1964)
Riverside Drag Strip (Nashville) (1964)
Bristol International Dragway (1965)
Tennessee Valley Dragway (Kingsport) (1965)
Jackson Dragway (Beech Bluff) (1967)
Middle Tennessee Drag Strip (Buffalo Valley) (1967)
411 International Dragway (Seymour) (1969)
Big Oak Dragway (Columbia) (1960s)​​
Super Drag Strip (Fairview) (1960s)
English Mountain Dragway (Newport)  (1970)
Crossville Dragway/Cumberland Raceway Park/I-40 Dragway (1978)
Lawrenceburg Dragstrip/U.S. 43 Dragway (Ethridge) (1970s)
Pickwick Drag Strip (Michie) (1970s)
Red Boiling Springs Dragway (1970s)
Great River Road Raceway/Mid-South Dragway (Dyersburg) (1995?)
Northwest Tennessee Motorsports Park/Tater Town Raceway (Gleason) (1990s)
Knoxville Dragstrip (Maynardville) (before 2010)
Memphis International Raceway (Millington) (2013)
 

Big Oak Dragway (Columbia)

 
Buck Adams was instrumental in organizing this drag strip. It was sanctioned by NHRA in September 1967. That year it ran every Saturday night and Sunday evening, with racing sponsored by the Columbia Automotive Association.  One fellow said, "The old guy I live next to back home tells me stories of "Oak Lake." It used to be a dragstrip, and apparently a number of cars went off in the lake, as there was a hard turn right at the beginning of the shut down, with the lake right off the edge of the track."
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Brainerd Optimist Dragstrip

 
John "Buddy" Houts was one of the civic crusaders who advocated building a drag strip to curb illegal street racing in the Chattanooga area in the 1950s.  He was making no progress when he got the interest of the Brainerd Optimist Club in promoting a drag strip whose proceeds would benefit charities. With their backing, land for the strip was obtained on Crabtree Road, just off Hixson Pike in Middle Valley. Trees were cleared from the farm land for the 3,160 foot long, 40-foot wide drag strip. Houts and members of the Road Gents car club supervised the design and construction.  The track was sanctioned by the Automobile Timing Association of America.  The Optimist Club spent $20,000 on the track and expected to recoup their expenses after three months. The opening race occurred on August 11, 1957. More than 5,000 spectators attended that first race. Although the race track was in a rural area, people living nearby were greatly upset by the noise and traffic. They banded together to try to force the race track to stop running. In 1963, the Optimist Club sold the drag strip property to John Flewellen who used the strip as a small airport, now called the Dallas Bay Skypark. The Optimist Club relocated the drag strip operation southward to Caloosa County, Georgia. The New Brainerd Optimist Dragstrip, opened in 1964, was on 745 Scruggs Road, in Ringgold, Georgia. It is still in operation at that location today (2015).
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This listing in National Dragster, Dec. 23, 1977, is puzzling. Did the small airport that bought the strip in 1963 allow drag races to be held under the Brainerd Optimist name? Apparently it did. It was a sanctioned NHRA track in 1977. 
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Bristol International Dragway

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  • Years of Operation: 1965-present
 
Excerpted history on Bristol's official website :  "Bristol International Dragway (as it was known then) opened in 1965 under National Hot Rod Association sanction. At the time it was considered a state of the art super dragway, the best in the country. Larry Carrier, Carl Moore and Hal Hamrick built the dragstrip at a cost of approximately $1 million. The facility included a crossover bridge for spectators, a four-story tower which housed offices, suites, the timing tower and media accommodations second to none. Bristol Dragway's elevation was 1,445. The facility seated 15,000 and featured raised seating, which gave spectators a great view all the way down the quarter-mile strip. The facility was housed on 500 acres of land in a picturesque valley in which a 60-foot wide strip, one mile long was cut for racing. There also was a 20-foot wide return road. The very first Top Fuel Dragster winner at the Spring Nationals, held June 3-7, 1965, was Michigan's Maynard Rupp. His elapsed time was 7.59 seconds at 203.160 mph. The Spring Nationals, the first major NHRA event east of the Mississippi, was broadcast live by WJCW in Johnson City, a significant event since live drag racing didn't usually show up on the radio. Because the dragstrip sat between two mountains the acoustics were such that the strip earned the name "Thunder Valley" because of the thundering noise cars made when they traveled down the strip. NHRA left Bristol after the 1967 Spring Nationals and from 1968 to 1970 the American Hot Rod Association sanctioned the Spring Nationals. In 1971 Larry Carrier started the International Hot Rod Association, which ran at BID until 1998. Bristol remained the flagship of the IHRA until Carrier sold to Billy Meyer in fall of 1987 and he moved the series's offices to Waco, Texas. Meyer sold IHRA in the winter of 1989 to Jim Ruth and Ted Jones and they moved it back to Bristol in 1989. Ruth died in 1990 and his sons, Duane and Rick, inherited it. In 1993 they sold it to a group of businessmen but retained ownership of dragstrip. In 1997 Bill Bader purchased IHRA and moved the headquarters to Norwalk. In 1996 Bruton Smith, who also had purchased Bristol Motor Speedway, bought Bristol International Dragway from the Ruth brothers and renamed it Bristol Dragway. The first 300-mph pass down Bristol Dragway came in 1997 by Doug Herbert at the Spring Nationals. In the same qualifying round Shirley Muldowney set the record of 302 mph. After the 1997 season Bristol Dragway closed and work began on a new $18 million facility, a track now considered the new standard for NHRA venues. Bristol Dragway's professional pit area easily accommodates 100 cars and transporters while the sportsman area can accommodate up to 500 cars. Bristol Dragway's elevation is 1,475 and features a 3,800-foot dragway (700 feet of concrete), control tower, grandstand, pit area and support buildings. Nearly one million cubic yards of earth was moved in order to create more pit area and better grandstand area. More than 15,000 cubic yards of concrete helped form Bristol Dragway, including retaining walls that run the length of the dragway. More than 20 miles of cable for power, communication and scoring are buried to preserve the beauty of the setting. A $500,000 Musco sports lighting system was also installed. Among the many safety features, the dragway's elevation at the top end is 72 feet higher than at the start, to help slow cars after they pass through the lights. The four-story control tower features 21 luxury suites, a state-of-the-art control room, conference room, elevators and an awning-covered observation deck available to almost 800 occupants. Trackside glass design uses a "curtain wall glass system" which offers no visual obstructions from one end of the building to the other. Bristol Dragway features two pedestrian tunnels from grandstands to pits. Bristol Dragway hosted the NHRA's inaugural Winston Showdown in 1999, pitting Top Fuel dragsters against Funny Cars for the first time. John Force was the first winner of the event, besting Bob Vandergriff with a 5.470, 262.18 mph effort after smoking his tires. After hosting the Winston Showdown in 1999 and 2000, Bristol Dragway hosted its first NHRA points race since the 1967 season with the 2001 O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. At the close of the 2004 season, dragway officials began work on additional seating and suites. A new Terrace section, with nearly 3,500 seats, was added above the existing grandstand. The Terrace section was topped by corporate suites and the Thunder Valley Club doubled in size from 500 to 1,000. The construction resulted in nearly 5,000 news seats, available for the 2005 O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. After hosting its annual NHRA event during the early spring months of April and May for several years, the 2010 edition of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals moved to mid-June on the season schedule. The Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals are now held on Father's Day weekend, the perfect time for drag racing in the hills of East Tennessee."
 
June 3-6, 1965
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June 6-8, 1969
CLICK HERE to see ESPN Speed World telecast of IHRA Fall Nationals, Bristol International Dragway, 1987, 48:58 minutes
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of, Bristol International Dragway, early 1990s, 10:57 minutes
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Broadway Drag Strip ​(Knoxville)

  • Years of Operation:   ca. 1955-?
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
Shirl Greer, from Kingsport, early in his drag racing career, raced at this strip in 1955. "The Knoxville strip was the first in this part of the country and was rough to race on," Greer said. "It was a part dirt and part asphalt track."
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Buena Ventura Speedway ​(New Providence)

  • Years of Operation:    1958
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
Drag races were held at this oval track located on Highway 79 on the outskirts of New Providence, beginning on May 25, 1958, and every Sunday during that racing season.
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Did you race here? Tell us about it.
1958

Cherokee Dragstrip (Rogersville)

  • Years of Operation: 1964-present
 
This track, located four miles west of Rogersville,  began operation in about August 1964, running on Friday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The strip was being called Davy Crockett Drag Strip in 1965, when Charley Ryan managed the strip. The strip operated under AHRA rules in 1970. In that year they also installed Armco guardrails and built new bleachers and restrooms. The owners in 1976 were Bill Henderson and Bud Willis.  In 1975, the 1/8th-mile strip was sanctioned by IHRA. In early 1976, it was being offered for sale in newspaper ads.  It has also been called Cherokee Dragway or Cherokee Raceway Park. It operates today as a 1/8th-mile strip under IHRA sanction.
 
 
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March 15, 1970
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Cherokee Dragway, 1990, filmed by David Hoard, 20 minutes

Clarksville "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation:    1954
 
The Clarksville Timing Association was organized on August 6, 1954. Jerry Corvin was the president and they met at the National Guard Armory. They held drag races beginning in August 1954 on Kirkwood Road, four miles north of Clarksville on Highway 79. The road was closed to traffic during the races.
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Clarksville Dragway

  • Years of Operation:    1963-present
 
Incorporation papers were field for Clarksville Dragway on March 13, 1964, but it opened at least by July 1963. It undoubtedly opened that year or before. It was built by Clarksville Speedway, Inc. John M. Ardinger was the president of the corporation and Jon R. Ardinger was the track director, while E. L. D. Breckinridge was the director of promotions. It was listed in a listing of U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip. In 1974, a new ownership group called Speedway Park, Inc., headed by Charlie Hinton, took over the operation. In that year, the name of the strip was changed to Speedway Park.  Buford Edwards owned the track in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the National Harley Riders Association held its national finals at Clarksville for six years before outgrowing the track. It continues to operate today as Clarksville Speedway, an 1/8th-mile track, and is adjacent to a clay oval track.
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July 13-14, 1963
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Clarksville Dragway, 2012, 4:40 minutes

Cumberland Dragway ​​(Nashville)

 
This quarter-mile track, operated by Claude Lampley and Louis Gasser, opened for racing on Friday night, July 11, 1958. 1,200 people watched more than 125 cars race. Bonnie Kemp took top eliminator in his '32 Ford roadster, recording Tennessee's top speed ever up to that time of 102.72 MPH.  Races were run weekly on Friday on the runway of the Cumberland Airport.  The northeastern half of the runway was paved. That is where the racing took place. On November 2, 1958, they began holding races each week on Sunday afternoon during the cold months of fall and winter. They also started holding a single class for women racers. Donna Felts was the first winner of the Powder Puff Derby. Ira Walden took top eliminator honors in the modified division with his Olds-powered Model A. In 1959, Cumberland Dragway and Union Hill Raceway, another strip in the Nashville area, went into a cooperative arrangement so they wouldn't compete against each other. They decided to operate under standard rules, give uniform prize money, and have identical competition classes. Cumberland chose to run on Saturday nights and Union Hill on Sunday afternoons. They had to postpone starting because their insurance company required them to put in a retaining fence before they could begin racing. They opened the 1959 season on May 2, before 1,300 spectators. Bobby Walker of Nashville turned 103.87 in his '57 Chevy-powered 1932 Dodge. It had six 2-barrel carburetors.  He ran in the CA modified division, the hottest class. On May 9, they had to change the starting time for time trials because airport regulations prevented them from starting any earlier than one-half hour before sundown. That is when the airport closed for use by airplanes. On September 19, Robert Brawley set a new track record in his Pontiac-powered Model T with a speed of 111.1 MPH. On June 17, 1960, Pud Hibdon set a new track record with a run of 126.26 MPH. On June 23, 1961, Hibdon set another track record with his dragster with a speed of 136.36 MPH. It was running on an 1/8th-mile strip at that time. The track was regularly getting about 200 cars and motorcycles to compete weekly. The airport was located close to downtown Nashville and was beginning to be redeveloped by 1965, when racing came to a halt. No trace of the airport remains today.
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1958
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Cumberland Airport on ​​ 1952 USGS topo map
Starter Claude Lampley is set to flag two cars at the starting line of the Cumberland Dragway. Photo by Frank Gonzales published in Nashveille Tennessean, July 10, 1958

English Mountain Dragway ​​​​(Newport)

 
Although this track purportedly was built in the 1960s as a quarter-mile strip, the first documentation research found dates to 1970. In an article in the Newport News (April 2, 1970), all indications are that this was a "new strip" in 1970. Co-owned and co-operated by Frank Strickler and Dan Burnell, the strip was sanctioned that year by AHRA. They planned to run weekly races. The strip purportedly closed for a few years, but was re-opened in 1993 as a 1/8th-mile strip. It closed permanently after the 2014 season.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of English Mountain Dragway, 1996, filmed by David Hoard, 14:16 minutes

Fairgrounds Speedway ​​(Nashville)

  • Years of Operation:    1958, 1960
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
On Saturday night, October 4, 1958, drag races were held on the oval track at the conclusion of the feature event as an added attraction.
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411 International Dragway ​(Seymour)

 
On this track's opening race on Friday night, May 23, 1969, Floyd James, age 32, from Maryville, lost control of his dragster when the accelerator stuck. He was going about 165 MPH when his dragster flipped. He died of injuries suffered in the accident. It was a terrible beginning for this 1/8th-mile track, adjacent to the 411 Speedway dirt oval track. Coy Floyd was the first owner of the track. The track announcer in 1969 was Jim Blalock. Danny Sluper filed incorporation papers for the strip on November 7, 1975. One of the first races which research found in newspapers was held on Saturday night, April 21, 1973,  The racing featured "Big Willie" Robinson and his pair of match racing 426 Dodge Daytonas. In mid-August 1974, over 300 entries competed at the season's final IHRA World Record Meet. Racing closed in 2014 when the lease was not renewed.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of 411 Dragway, mid-1980s, filmed by Jeff Patty, 14:31 minutes
CLICK HERE to see video footage of 411 Dragway, 1991, 3:49 minutes

Halls Dragway

 
Drag races were held on a runway of the former Army Air Base, located two miles north of Halls, Tennessee. Built in 1942, it was inactivated after the war and converted to civilian use. It then became known as Arnold Field Airport. The Memphis Rodders conducted races on a runway, generally holding them on the fourth Sunday. Races were sanctioned by NHRA in about 1959-60. John Mathis, age 35, was killed at Halls Dragway on July 3, 1960, when he lost control of his car and careened into a field.  Two thousand spectators witnessed the fatal accident. It had been the only fatality in six years that the race track had been in operation.
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Harriman Drag Strip

 
This track fits well the definition of an outlaw track, lacking any sanctioning oversight during the entire time of its operation and a minimum attention to rules. Constructed in a hilly area, it was located on flat ground close to the Emory River. It lacked guardrails. Previous to its use as a drag strip, it was the site of Liles Airport.   Paul "Mushy" Mashburn wrote fondly of his days going to the drag strip with his high school friend, Barry, and Barry's older brother, Dale. Dale had a '55 Ford that they raced at Harriman. Mashburn wrote, "Each Saturday Dale went to the Harriman Drag Strip with Barry and me riding along as his makeshift pit crew. However, we rarely rode through the gate. We instead jumped out about a quarter mile from the ticket booth and ran down the corrugated fence line to the river’s edge.  The owners of the strip had built the fence straight out over the water, but time and wave action had eroded a huge hole beneath the fence. So, it was easy enough for us to slip down, under, and around the fence and onto the wooded bank on the inside of the drag strip.  By the time Barry and I came out of the woods, zipping our pants as if we had just taken a leak, Dale would have made it to the pit area, parked, and begun his perusal of the competition. Depending on who attended that day and what they were running on top of their engine, determined what class Dale would sign up to run against. The classes were determined by several factors, but the major one to Dale was the carburetion package. So, when he returned to his pit-crew he would yell out which manifold package to get him out of the trunk. Barry ran to the trunk and picked up the system Dale wanted and helped by handing him tools, while I busied myself taking off the hubcaps, the 'knock-offs,' and emptying the trunk of all excess weight. This is not much by today’s pit-crew standards, but to 17-year-old boys, it was the big time!  Next, we all jumped into putting the larger 'slicks' on the rear – setting up and pumping the jack, rolling tires back and forth, tracking the lug nuts, and then standing back proudly and breathing hard. We were on top of the world!  Dale won more than he lost, but the wins were great fun and some of my best moments."
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Harriman Drag Strip, ​​​​ 1971 topo map
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Harriman Drag Strip, former site of Liles Airport,  1964 topo map
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Harriman Drag Strip, 1:29 minutes

Jackson Dragway (Beech Bluff)

  • Years of Operation: 1967-present
 
Operating today as a 1/8th-mile track, this strip was listed as being under NHRA sanction in the May 1968 issue of Hot Rod. David White was the track manager then and the strip ran every Sunday. The strip opened for racing on August 13, 1967. 4,000 spectators watched, but the opener was plagued by timing system malfunctions.
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Listing in ​​​National Dragster, Dec. 23, 1977.  Courtesy of Mel Bashore
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Jackson Dragway, 1990, filmed by David Cockrell 21:43 minutes
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Jackson Dragway, 1984, 8:53 minutes
July 13, 1968

Lakeland Dragway/Memphis-Shelby County International Raceway

 
This track, near Memphis, located on Interstate 40 and Canada Road, opened on July 4, 1960. In 1962, it was sanctioned by NHRA and ran on the first, third, and fifth Sundays. In 1963, it ran every Saturday night.  Hot Rod Magazine did a feature article on the track in its October 1962 issue (p. 100-101). DSL reader David Sharp added interesting detail about its beginnings: "The visionary for Lakeland Drag Strip was Raymond Godman. Wounded in the Korean War by a sniper bullet in 1951, placed Raymond in a wheelchair, but he never let that stop his drive to succeed.  In 1955 Raymond was conducting make-shift races with the Memphis Rodder's Car Club at an airfield in Halls, Tennessee, where soon after he became an NHRA advisor.  He saw the crowds and car count increase and the need for a more permanent track location in Tennessee. He found a 128 acre plot in the small town of Lakeland, Tennessee and began the 2-year construction journey to build the strip. Raymond also fielded the popular "Bo-Weevil" dragster and funny car driven by Preston Davis. . . .  As the owners changed and operations changed, the Lakeland Drag Strip was renamed Lakeland International Raceway and Shelby County International Raceway. Two of those long-time owners were Bill Taylor and Larry Coleman of Taylor-Coleman and TCI Transmission fame.  They were always looking to improve, adding concert guard rails, a road course and a spectator cat-walk behind the staging lanes."  During the course of its 19-year history, it also was sanctioned by IHRA and AHRA. It also changed its name to Lakeland International Raceway. In the late 1960s a road course was built that incorporated the drag strip. In 1969, the revamped track remodeled at a cost of $500,000, had its drag strip grand opening on May 13, 1969. That event was the AHRA Mid-South Spring Championships.   Greg Friend has compiled a wonderful website documenting its history, replete with old articles, photos, etc. Greg noted some of the big-time drag racers who raced there: "The best names in drag racing have traveled this asphalt; Jungle Jim, Dyno Don, Arnie "The Farmer" Beswick, Shirl Greer, Bob Glidden, Lee Shepherd, Shirley Muldowney, Tommy Ivo, Eddie Hill, Gene Snow and many more! In 1972 Big Daddy Don Garlits set an AHRA national E.T. record, traversing Lakeland Raceway in 5.95 seconds. He returned in 1973 and laid down drag racing's quickest pass of the time, 5.79 seconds; a number that stood with NHRA for almost two years." The strip was featured in the 1971 cult classic film "Two Lane Blacktop."   On Saturday night, April 22, 1967, James Nevils was killed when he was unable to stop his C dragster. The throttle jammed and he plunged 30 feet off a dropoff at the end of the track. The track was demolished in 2009 and a mixed-use industrial complex was developed, yet remnants of the track remain. It can still be seen in aerial photos, south of the Outlet Mall, parallel to and 300 feet west of Monroe Road.
 
 
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September 3, 1966
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The layout of Lakeland Dragway is seen in this 1971 ​​​ aerial photo
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Memphi-Shelby County International Raceway, mid-1970s, go to 32 second mark for strip footage, stops at 2:10 minutes
CLICK HERE to see video footage of old Lakeland Dragway in 1989, ten years after the strip closed, 14:39 minutes

Lawrenceburg Dragstrip/U. S. 43 Dragway (Ethridge)

  • Years of Operation:   ca. 1968?-present
 
This 1/8th-mile strip opened by at least 1968, if not before.  It was listed in a listing of U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip.  It was sanctioned by IHRA in 1977 and raced on Sundays. Located on Dooley Road in Ethridge, the track today is all concrete with eight acres of paved pit area, six staging lanes, and over 1,600 feet of shutdown.
 
 
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of U. S. 43 Dragway, 2013, filmed by James Kubiak, 2:49 minutes

Loudon Drag Strip

 
Tom Cathey, a DSL reader and son of the track's promoter, wrote, "This track was originally built in 1958 by the 'Webspinners' car club. The track was owned and operated by Leroy Cathey during the sixties with Jim Stinnet becoming a partner around 1970. In May of 1969 a major Super Stock race was held showcasing many of the 'new' factory Hemi Darts and Barracudas."   This track operated in the small farming town of Loudon. It drew racers from Knoxville and Chattanooga. In the June 1969 issue of Hot Rod, it was listed as an NHRA-sanctioned track. Jim Stinnett was the track manager then.  It closed sometime in the 1970s, but more research is needed to determine the exact year.  But when the TVA built the Telico Dam, the flooding of the Little Tennessee River obliterated any evidence of the old strip. Since November 29, 1979, the old strip has been underwater.
 
 
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McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base ​​​​(Knoxville)

 
McGhee Tyson Airport is a public and military airport located twelve miles south of Knoxville. On July 27-28, 1963, the Guard permitted use of a runway to hold an NHRA Southeastern regional two-day meet on a 10,000 foot runway. Read Henry Doriot's recollections of this 1963 NHRA race. in Memories (Tennessee) . More research is needed.
 
 
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Maryville Dragway

 
Located one miles south of Maryville, this track reportedly opened in the late 1950s. Donny Anderson, with the Blount County Genealogical and Historical Society, wrote DSL after talking with his uncle. His uncle graduated from high school in the late 1950s and soon after did some racing at Maryville Dragway. On Sunday, March 24, 1963, Shirl Greer defeated Don Nicholson in two races, setting a new track record of 123.28 MPH in his '62 Plymouth Super Stock. In 1967, the track presented a match race between Joe Lunati and Jack Chrisman. It was a narrow track with just a wooden fence for spectator protection. It failed to meet basic standards for sanctioning. It reverted to a private airplane landing strip in 1984 and continues so today. It is called Montvale Air Park Road, located off of Best Road.
 
 
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August 1, 1965
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Maryville Dragway, 1968​​ topo map

Middle Tennessee Drag Strip (Buffalo Valley)

  • Years of Operation: 1967-present
 
Located twelve miles west of Cookeville, this 1/8th-mile track, which today runs under IHRA sanction, opened on April 16, 1967. It was called Middle Tennessee Drag Strip in the beginning, but also went by the name Buffalo Valley Drag Strip.   Jimmy Sweet , whose family moved to Jamestown when he was ten years old in 1969, remembers going to watch his father race at Buffalo Valley Dragstrip. More research is needed.
 
 
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Buffalo Valley Drag Strip, 2010, 1:14 minutes

Old Hickory Speedway Drag Strip ​​(Nashville)

  • Years of Operation: 1957-58
 
In 1952, the quarter-mile clay oval opened for stock car racing in the Old Hickory section of Nashville near the Cumberland River. The speedway was located on the right side of Old Hickory Boulevard, just after crossing the Cumberland River bridge into Old Hickory. The site of the old speedway is now a light industrial park. A 100-yard drag race on the speedway oval was put on by promoter Charlie Bennett before the feature races for added entertainment. He began holding these events on Friday night, June 14, 1957. The first winner was Marvin Caylor, driving his souped-up 1948 Chevy. They were popular enough that Bennett bought some land adjacent to the oval upon which he built a drag strip.  The strip opened on Sunday, August 4, 1957. The 1/8th-mile track had a concrete start pad, but the rest of the track was hard-surface dirt with an 1/8th-mile of shutdown area. They started out with ten classes of racing. A few days after the opener, Bennett organized a drag racing club called the Dragons. On the second week of racing, they had 140 racers. In fact there were so many racers that they decided to start classifying cars earlier in the day. In 1958, the track upped the racing to sixteen classes with trophies going to the winners and money prizes (generally $50) to the eliminator winners. Frequent winners included Howard Trout, Richard Pate, Otis Deck, Clyde Felts, Bonnie Kemp, Harold Patton, and Bobby Walker. In July 1958, an additional 100 feet of concrete was added to the starting pad, giving it a total of 300 feet.  Bonnie Kemp had one of the faster cars, a Corvette-powered 1932 Ford called the "Bumble Bee," owned by the High Lift club. His speed was  regularly in the mid-90s.  The drag strip apparently didn't run in 1959, which was the last year of racing at the speedway oval.
 
 
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June 28, 1957
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1958
Vacations and fishing trips were offered in prize drawing at the drag races in Augtust 1958

Pickwick Drag Strip ​(Michie)

  • Years of Operation: 1970s-present
 
This 1/8th-mile drag strip opened at least by 1974, a year when the strip was identified on a topo map. It continues operation today as an independent, outlaw track.
 
 
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Pickwick Drag Strip in 2010, 3:08 minutes
Pickwick Drag Strip, ​​​​ 1974 topo map

Pine Knob Drag Strip (Dickson)

 
One old timer recalled this briefly-operating strip east of Dickson:  "We locally crafted a strip preceding The Super near Dickson in 1962. Named "Pine Knob," it was located just 1/8 mi off Highway 70 between Montgomery Bell Park and Dickson. It was a low budget affair, put together by some local enthusiasts with the help of a few generous local businesses. PK ran full 1/4 mile, but was not paved for the first 2 years. The surface was hard Benton County chert, but a 150-foot concrete pad was provided at the start line. PK's death was caused by youthful management, lack of things needed to become a serious race track, and the development of The Super only 10 miles away, coinciding with opening of I-40, which made much easier access. I think '64 was the last year they operated. The strip itself still exists at the edge of a subdivision and is all grown up. I was the 'classifier' there in '62 and '63, but was gone to basic training in '64. I learned a lot and had a hell of a lot of fun. We got a lot of poor racer cars out of Nashville and all around. Does anybody remember Mister Milton of Milton Thomas Garage? He was quite a colorful and dedicated racing family. When Mr Milton came, the whole family came, usually with a picnic lunch. Mr Milton was black and we racers didn't give a damn about civil rights troubles. He was a racer just like we was." 
 
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July 4, 1964
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1992 aerial view of probable site of the old Pine Knob Drag Strip

Red Boiling Springs Dragway

 
This drag strip operated at least in the early 1970s, but documentation is very sparse. Jimmy Sweet recalled , "I remember the Red Boiling Springs track being just out in the middle of a field."  The old drag strip serves as an access road to farm buildings today. The road leading to the old drag strip retaiins the name Dragstrip Road. More research is needed.
 
 
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Red Boiling Springs Dragway, 1971​​​​​​​ topo map
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1997 aerial view of Red Boiling Springs Dragway

Riverside Drag Strip (Nashville)

 
Located west of Nashvillle, this drag strip opened in 1964. It was built and operated by Curtis Goodwin, Jr. A source on the Internet shows  photos of the old strip . It is located about ten miles west of Nashville, adjacent to and on the north side of Interstate 40, about one mile east of the McCrory Lane exit 192. It sits on a bend of the Harpeth River. Remnants of the old strip, which may have been called Riverside Raceway, are still extant including the timing tower, signs, and the weed-overgrown asphalt strip. The strip was sanctioned by NHRA at least by July 1967, running every Saturday night. On October 5, 1975, Chuck Turner was killed while racing his top fuel dragster. He was 34 years old from Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 1981, Goodwin switched race days from Sunday to Saturday to see if he could boost attendance. The track celebrated its 20th anniversary with a race on Saturday night, June 30, 1964.
 
 
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Listing in ​​​​​National Dragster, Dec. 23, 1977.  Courtesy of Mel Bashore
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1997 aerial view of Riverside Drag Strip

Rutherford Dragstrip (Smyrna)

 
Research has uncovered little information about this track, but DSL is certain that it existed because Doris Barnhill won a trophy racing his Corvette there in 1963 [see Memories (Tennessee)]. Races may have been held at the airport just on the northern outskirts of the town, but more research is needed to confirm that.
 
 
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Smithville Drag Strip

 
Located on the southwestern near outskirts of Smithville, this was the home track of Super Stock racer Charlie Lee. Earl Evans was the owner/operator of the strip. A tornado did severe damage to the drag strip in April 1968. The track owner decided it would be too costly to rebuild so he turned the property into a housing subdivision. The old strip is today's Earl Avenue.
 
 
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Super Drag Strip (Fairview)

 
This drag strip, located 26 miles west of Nashville, opened between 1962 and 1963. It probably also operated during the 1970s. Little documentation has been found about this strip. It may have just been known as Fairview Dragway, owned by Dudley Oakley. One old timer remembered, "I raced there a couple of times. Late '60s and early '70s. It was a narrow track. with trees growing between the lanes, maybe a 2-foot-wide strip of them dead between the lanes. Plus there were trees lining both sides of the track, maybe one foot off the edge of each lane. The return road was gravel. And you had to drive through a creek to get back to the pits."
 
 
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June 9, 1963
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The "Drag Strip" is still visible on this 1992 ​ aerial photo
May 10, 1964
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The "Drag Strip" is marked on this 1967 ​​​​ topo map
October 10, 1965

Tennessee Valley Dragway (Kingsport)

 
This short-lived drag strip was built three miles east of Kingsport, just south of the intersection of U.S. 11W (East Stone Drive) and the old Beason Well Road. J. B. Tiller and his son, Travis, built it a a cost of $90,000. Tiller also owned Coeburn Raceway in Virginia. Newspapers reported that the drag strip was being built side-by-side with an adjoining private airfield. The drag strip was to be on the north side of the airfield, which would be next to Reedy Creek. Research could not find if the airfield was ever built. The drag strip was to be 3/4 mile long and 40 feet wide, with a paved return road and paved pit area 400 feet by 800 feet. Spectator stands would be built to seat 1,500. Sunday racing was planned. Construction on the track was well underway in early March, with asphalt expected to be laid on March 8. As the race track neared completion, eighty residents of Beechcliff Estates, about a quarter-mile south of the strip, mobilized to close the strip. Being outside the city limits of Kingsport, the city was without power to halt construction. With that news, Beechcliff then embarked on a several-year quest to shut the strip down.  The drag strip opened on May 30-31, 1965, with only a half-mile paved, due to poor weather. A purse of $1,000 was offered to attract Super Stock racers, which was won by Kingsport racer Shirl Greer. Three thousand spectators watched the race on Sunday, May 30. A persistent problem at the track related to people trying to watch the races without paying, parked outside along the adjacent highway. Offenders were regularly ticketed by state troopers. The track was embroiled in legal and financial problems until finally closing in 1969.
 
 
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August 13, 1967
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1997 aerial view of Tennessee Valley Dragway

Union Hill Raceway/Music City Raceway (Goodlettsville)

  • Years of Operation: 1958-present
 
This 1/8th-mile track opened on July 4, 1958 as Union Hill Raceway. Brothers Bob and Herman Wingo built the drag strip on their property. At first it was just a dirt track with some bleachers on the side and a judge's stand. Bob Wingo remembered, "We were nervous as a burglar before our opener. Neither of us went to bed the night before."  "What an opening," recalled Herman Wingo, "We had about 50 cars and less people. It rained the next three weeks and our race program was no better."  But word spread about the track and people and racers started coming. With this encouragement, the brothers installed lights and paved the strip and part of the shutdown area for the 1959 season. Total attendance for that season was about 25,000. Before the 1960 season, they built new safety and retaining walls on the track. By 1961, they paved the return road and finished paving the shutdown area. The real turning point for the track occurred in 1961. They decided to bring in a big-name racer and lured Connie Kalitta to come twice that year. His appearance drew capacity crowds. They drew 35,000 spectators in 1962 by bringing in such racers as Pete Robinson, Don Garlits, and Walt Arfons. The 1963 season attendance swelled to 50,000 by holding four big super stock meets. Some of the racers they brought in included Don Nicholson, Steve Bonner, Jack Sharkey, and an appearance by stock car driver Fireball Roberts. In 1964, the brothers built a large L-shaped swimming pool and a dance pavilion on the grounds, turning the strip into a destination resort.   Steve, an old-time racer recalled ,  "It was first owned by the Wingo family. Flag starts, hash mark handicapping, 3/16 mile distance for the slower classes, and 1/8 mile for the faster classes. Braking strip was short and downhill. They went to running 1/8 mile only around the late 60's best I remember. I saw Garlits run Pete Robinson there in Swamp Rat III. Used to draw huge crowds when they had a funny car meet with those old altered wheelbase cars burning through the rosin and wheelstanding. I was there when Hunter's altered ran off the end, and saw the crumpled remains in the woods at the end of a path of knocked over trees. It's a wonder he survived it." The track had one fatal accident that killed John Donilson on July 10, 1966. He was rear-ended in a car driven by Paul Lance, while both were going about 110 MPH.  In 1971 the drag strip was sold by the Wingo brothers to a corporate group called Union Hill Properties, Inc. One of the first changes was a renaming to Union Hill International Raceway. Races were changed to Friday and Saturday nights, eliminating the Sunday racing. Ronnie Davis was the track manager. It was sanctioned by NHRA. Doug Greenfield was the track manager in the 1970s. Races were held on Saturday nights then. The track was completely renovated in 2007. The track runs two week nights for grudge racing and a regular Saturday program under NHRA sanction.
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Listing in ​​​​​​National Dragster, Dec. 23, 1977. They listed the location as Nashville, but Goodlettsville was only 14 miles from Nashville. Courtesy of Mel Bashore
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Music City Raceway, March 12, 2011, taken by Asa Hatton, 16 minutes
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Tommy Ivo's 4-engined dragster and Billy Herndon's 2-engined dragster headlined the racing on July 4-5, 1964
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July 4-5, 1958
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Two cars sit at the starting line of a rain-drenched, empty Union Hill race track, 1964. Photo published in ​Nashville Tennessean, Mar. 22, 1964