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Old Dominion Speedway (Manassas) (1955)
Pungo Airfield (Virginia Beach) (1955)
Petersburg Municipal Airport/Eastern Dragway (1956)
Lakeview Drag Strip (1958)
Roanoke Drag Strip (1958)
Tappahannock Dragway (1958)
Callaghan Drag Strip (Covington) (1959)
Hidden Valley Drag Strip (Covington) (1959)
Louisa Drag Strip (1959)
Virginia International Raceway (Alton) (1959)
New London Dragway (1960)
Oak Level Dragstrip (1960)
Emporia Dragway (1961)
Virginia Beach Drag Strip/Freedom 7 Dragway/Creeds Field (1962)
Colonial Beach Dragstrip (1963)
Suffolk Raceway (1963)
Lonesome Pine Drag Strip (Coeburn) (1964)
Richmond Dragway (1964)
Cedar Hills Dragway/Richlands International Dragway/Big Al's Dragway (Cedar Bluff) (1966)
Eastside Speedway (Waynesboro) (1966)
Elk Creek Dragway (1968)
Sumerduck Dragway (1960s)
Accomack County Airport (Melfa) (1970)
Rockingham County Fairgrounds (Harrisonburg) (1972)
Roanoke Drag Strip. Photographer unknown

Accomack County Airport (Melfa)

  • Years of Operation: 1970-71

​A temporary ban was imposed on drag racing on the south taxiway at the airport by the county supervisors in mid-January 1971. There had been three races held there since November 1970. The Virginia State Police had expressed concern about the way the races had been run. They felt that they weren't being conducted properly. The ban was imposed until the problems could be worked out with the cooperation of the Accomack-Northhampton Competition Club. Research wasn't able to find if the ban was lifted for racing to continue.
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Callaghan Drag Strip (Covington)

  • Years of Operation: 1959

This drag strip purportedly opened  on March 8, 1959. It may be the same as Hidden Valley Drag Strip (below). The hamlet of Callaghan is located just west of Covington. More research is needed to confirm this.
 
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Cedar Hills Dragway/Richlands International Dragway/Big Al's Dragway (Cedar Bluff)

  • Years of Operation: 1966-ca. 1980s
 
This drag strip, which cost a reported $400,000, staged a three-day opening July 4th weekend event in 1966 featuring Doug Rose driving Walt Arfons's "Green Monster" jet car. The strip was located at Cedar Bluff, near Richlands. It was a NASCAR-backed track that had been built by Richlands businessman Joe Simmons. Construction work on the track had taken two months. There were grandstand seats for 8,000 spectators. On July 3, Rose had reached a speed of 221.5 MPH, about 10 MPH under the world record. He had only been contracted to run on Sunday, but wanted to take a stab at breaking the world record, so he decided to make an attempt on July 4.  But the next day, the track was rain-slick for the 1,500 fans in attendance. He was going just over 100 MPH when he lost control of the car and smashed into a guard rail. He was thrown from the car in the crash and rushed to a hospital. Injuries to his legs were severe. Both of his legs were amputated at the knee. It was an inauspicious beginning for the track.On September 4-5, 1966, the track featured a 2-day stock car racing program with a match race between Stan Byrd and Lynwood Craft.  In about 1971-72, it started to be called Richlands International Dragway. It was called by that name at least through 1982. In September 1981, Rickey Rhea, age 29, from Kingsport, Tennessee, was killed at the track when his throttle stuck and he ran off the drop off at the end of the shutdown area at full speed. It was called Big Al's Dragway at least by 1985. The track was sanctioned by IHRA in 1986.  The track operated through at least 1992. But who is Big Al?   Reader Desitini Patrick explains who Big Al is in the Memories (Virginia) page of DSL . The track is very visible in aerial photos.
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July 23, 1966
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Cedar Hills/Big Al's Raceway, at the 1:43 mark is a 1968 gasser race, earlier footage of a 1950s race at unidentified track, 5 minutes, no sound/music 

Colonial Beach Dragstrip

  • Years of Operation: ca. 1963-present
 
This track was originally a small general aviation airport called Reno Skypark, built in 1956. The airport, with a 3,500-foot turf runway, was closed after 1960. It was called Longfield Drag Strip when it first opened on August 25, 1963. It got that name from Longfield Farms, a 53-acre farm which was bought on which to build the strip. It was built by five men: Billy Powell, William I. Cooper, Landon Curley, C. M. Prichett, and Earnest E. Brulle. On October 13, 1963, over seventy Super Stockers competed at a big event. Huston Platt won in his '63 Chevy with an 11.51 ET and 122 MPH. Frank Bennett was the public relations manager for Colonial Beach in 1965. The "Hemi Under Glass" wheelstander made runs on the strip on August 28, 1965. At some time it changed from a quarter-mile track to, now, a 1/8th-mile track.
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Longfield Drag Strip, November 10, 1963
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Colonial Beach Dragstrip, July 4, 2010, 7:45 minutes

Eastside Speedway (Waynesboro)

  • Years of Operation:  1966-present
 
The first race that research has found was held on Sunday, October 9, 1966, but there were probably earlier races. A couple of miles north of Waynesboro, the speedway complex has what is today a 1/8th-mile drag strip and 4/10th-mile dirt oval track. The drag strip began as a quarter mile track with Al Gore as the promoter. On the October 9 race, Howard Lichliter of Staunton took the best-of-three match race in his dragster against Allen Star of North Carolina. Bob Bateman of Roanoke took top competition with a speed of 163 MPH. In 1967, drag races were held every Friday night, switching over to Sundays in mid-August. In the 1970s, drag racing switched back and forth between Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. In 1973 the track was sanctioned by IHRA. In 1981, the strip changed to 1/8th-mile racing.
 
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March 26, 1967
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Eastside Speedway Dragstrip, ca. 1966, filmed by Ruby Knupp, 3:44 minutes

Elk Creek Dragway

  • Years of Operation:   1968-present
 
Bordering the North Carolina-Virginia state line, Elk Creek held its first race in July 1968. Tommy and Nell Morton built the track. It changed ownership a number of times. But in 1999, the track closed briefly after the season began and the situation was quite uncertain. In December 1999, many of the racers resolved to keep the track operating. They formed a corporation of about 130 shareholders to keep the track running. The racer-owned corporation continues to govern the track today as an IHRA 1/8th-mile drag strip.
 
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May 27, 1972
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Elk Creek Dragway, 2009 filmed by Joe Nester, 8:20 minutes

Emporia Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1961-ca. 1968
 
Research has been unable to find much about this drag strip except a few little memories of old timers of racing there and a few news articles. Races were held every Sunday in 1962 and were sanctioned by NHRA.   Skip Holbert attended a drag race at Emporia in 1964:  "I was introduced to drag racing when I attended Nuclear Power School in Windsor Locks, Connecticut in 1964. Connecticut Dragway was just a few miles from the school, located just outside of Hartford, Connecticut. A few of my classmates tried to talk me into going to the dragstrip. My response was, 'What fun is there to watching two cars go straight?' When I finally attended a race, I could not wait to get back out there in two weeks. One of the instructors had a 1963 Ford Galaxy 500 with a 406 engine that ran in B/S. He was real hot at the track until Ford introduced the 1963 1/2 Fastback Galaxy 500 with the 427 engine. Boy, was he upset! Both cars ran in the same class and his 406 could no longer compete with the quicker 427 engine cars. When I graduated and was sent to Virginia, one of the guys that I had gone to the track with in Connecticut was stationed on the same ship with me. He had a 1964 Fairlane with the Hi Performance 289 engine. He asked me to be his pit crew at the track, which was in Emporia, Virginia, about 75 miles from Newport News, Virginia where we were stationed. At Emporia Dragstrip, we came up against some factory sponsored Fairlane's just like his, but they had one advantage. They did not have to drive their cars back home and to work every day. My friend would not take his engine to the limit and therefore we lost every week. Up to that point I had never been down the track, but it was exciting just to be associated with a car." On January 5, 1964, Ronnie Sox set some new track marks at an NHRA sanctioned meet. He ran a best time of 11.30 and 127.78 MPH in his '64 Comet.   It may have run after 1967, but that is when the research trail starts to get dry. The drag strip was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .  Races were most likely run on the old airfield three miles east of Emporia (now called Emporia-Greensville Regional Airpor), but more research is needed.
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Hidden Valley Drag Strip (Covington)

  • Years of Operation: 1959-1960s
 
This drag strip purportedly opened on April 18, 1959. Prior to the track's completion, drag races may have been held at the regional airport in Alleghany County. However it may what is shown as an airport on a 1964 topo map, which is today Grande Road in a housing development on the east side of Covington, tucked into a little valley. It may be the same as Callaghan Drag Strip (above). More research is needed.
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Lakeview Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1958-62
 
This drag strip, located in or near Bassett, Virginia, reportedly had its first full season in 1958-59. The Lakeview Dragsters car club conducted racing at the track. The location of the track has not been determined, more research is needed.
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Lonesome Pine Drag Strip (Coeburn)

  • Years of Operation:  ca. 1964-71
 
At least in circa 1964-66 or later, J. B. Tiller owned this drag strip. Most or the racers came from nearby Tennessee. Tiller and his son, Travis, also owned the Tennessee Valley Dragway in Kingsport, Tennessee, which was beset by controversy.  More research is needed on the Lonesome Pine Drag Strip to uncover its specific years of operation, location, and details of its history.
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Louisa Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1959-65
 
This short drag strip was a 1/5th-mile track, with only 1/10th-mile stretch to put on the brakes. On November 20, 1960, Harry Southworth of Richmond was racing when his flywheel exploded. Flying debris injured six people, four of whom were hospitalized. Southworth's car only came to a stop when it hit a fence at the end of the strip.  John Dostal, a DSL reader, wrote that two of the well-known racers who raced at Louisa were "Wasted" Willie Glass and "Pee Wee" Wallace. Remnants of the old strip are still visible. It is located north of Highway 22, about a half mile west of the Virginia Vermiculite mine, west of Louisa.
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Louisa Drag Strip, April 26, 1964, 4 minutes, no sound
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New London Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1960-2016
 
This drag strip opened in 1960, being listed in issues of NHRA-sanctioned tracks in Hot Rod,  located in Lynchburg, but without a name. The track is listed by name in 1961 issues of Car Craft. New London Dragway's website contends that racing began there in 1958, started by a local pilot, Rucker Tibbs. All this early dating begs for confirmation. It became New London Airport in 1961, which necessitated working on it each night prior to a race event. On October 6, 1963, Troy Hall of Christiansburg took top eliminator on his Atlas Norton, clocking 101 MPH in 12.72 seconds. Newspaper ads in the late 1970s invited people to "take a crack at our track." The drag strip is located in Forest, Virginia. While it began as a quarter-mile track and was sanctioned by NHRA in the 1960s, it was an 1/8th mile track operating under IHRA sanction up to its closure in 2016. Prior to the opening of the 2017 season, track operator Kelley Powell decided he would not reopen the strip. Although there were several factors in his decision, the main one was insurance requirements.
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1962
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of New London Dragway, taken by Jeff Reid, November 15, 2009, 5 minutes

Oak Level Dragstrip

  • Years of Operation: 1960-present
 
This drag strip purportedly opened in 1960, but the first newspaper documentation that research uncovered only dates to 1962. More research is needed to determine if racing really began at this strip prior to 1962. New London Dragway's website contends that racing began there in 1958. All this early dating begs for confirmation. On October 6, 1963, Troy Hall of Christiansburg took top eliminator on his Atlas Norton, clocking 101 MPH in 12.72 seconds. The drag strip is located in Forest, Virginia. While it began as a quarter-mile track and was sanctioned by NHRA in the 1960s, it is an 1/8th mile track operating under IHRA sanction today.
  • Years of Operation: 1960-?
 
There is confusion about when this track began, some sources stating that it began in the late 1950s, and others, in 1960. The drag strip was replaced by a quarter-mile dirt oval track called Fork Mountain Raceway. R. C. Grimes , nephew of the oval track's later owner, said "the track was operated successfully for a number of years, the drag strip eventually being replaced by a quarter mile dirt oval." More research is needed.
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Old Dominion Speedway (Manassas)

  • Years of Operation: 1955-2012

Drag racing was first held at this 2,300-foot asphalt strip prior to September 1955.  In 1952, Al Gore and his brothers bought the old Longview Speedway, a flat dirt track in Manassas. They began re-making the old track. They re-graded it and asphalt-paved the 3/8th-mile oval. They upgraded the grandstands and built new facilities and had it ready to open in July 1954.  Although contemporary 1950s newspaper articles aren't clear about the beginnings of the drag, at some time before or after the opening of the oval track, they built the drag strip, which newspapers stated they hoped to lengthen to a half-mile. Online sources state that the drag strip was initially a 1/8th-mile dirt track established in 1953. Research has not been successful in confirming that. They held the drag races every week. A newspaper advertisement for "championship drag races" on October 19, 1958, declared there would be "hot cars from all over the East Coast" in attendance. All the class winners would receive electric clocks. That was one of the last bits of documentation research has found, but more research is needed.  As residential development creeped ever closer, noise complaints convinced the owners to halt the racing in 2012 and search for a location to re-establish the race track.
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April 8-9, 1978
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Old Dominion's last race, 32 minutes

Petersburg Municipal Airport/Eastern Dragway

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  • Years of Operation: 1956-62

The Petersburg city council approved use of an unused taxi strip at the airport, located on Route 460 south of the city, for the Petersburg Rodders Club to use for drag racing. It was a short taxi strip so they could only time runs on a 1/5th-mile stretch, allowing only a few hundred feet for stopping. The city council reserved the right to revoke racing privileges at any time. They also only would permit racing after the club obtained insurance. Races would be held the first and third Sundays of the month. Newspapers reported that the club was still trying to obtain insurance in late August, but were hopeful that they could begin racing soon. Further research is needed to see if races were ever held in 1956.  In October 1957, the Petersburg city council approved the use of a runway at the airport for drag racing on every first and third Sunday. Races were reportedly to begin in 4-5 weeks. The Petersburg Rodders would conduct the races.  In 1956 they had received permission to use a taxi strip at the airport, but it was not long enough. They were given permission to use the runway that was furthest from the administration building. It ran in a northeast and southwest direction for 3500 feet. It was called Eastern Dragway. The first supervised racing was scheduled for March 30, 1958, on the mile-long, 165-foot wide taxi strip. The interest was great, evidenced by 700 people showing up to watch pre-opening trial runs on March 16. In May 1958, Bill Stoinoff set an unofficial world e.t. record of 8.9 seconds in A/MR with his car "The Golden Mood." In early June 1958, the promoters found it necessary to change racing events from Sunday to Saturday. Unfortunately this change saw their attendance drop from an average of over 2,000 to about 400 people. They drew racers from Norfolk and Williamsburg and around the Tidewater area.  In July 1959, Joe Tucci of Quantico set a new track top speed record with a run of 140.40 MPH. The strip was sanctioned by NHRA at least by 1960, if not before. The Petersburg city council voted to halt all drag racing on Sundays at the airport effective September 1, 1960. This did not apply to racing on Saturday, which was permitted to continue. There had been criticism of Sunday racing since the track opened, but increased after an accident and a fight occurred on August 7, 1960. Saturday racing stopped in 1961. The Dragway was compensated $1,250 by the city of Petersburg for rent paid for a year-and-a-quarter in exchange for surrendering its lease which was to run until 1963.
July 19, 1958
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Pungo Airfield (Virginia Beach)

  • Years of Operation: 1955

Drag races were purportedly held on a runway at this old Navy airfield in Virginia Beach, but more research is needed. Races might have been held earlier than 1955, too. During the war it was an auxiliary airfield for nearby Norfolk Naval Air Station.  It had three 2,500-foot concrete runways. It was essentially abandoned after the war, surrounded by farm land, then turned over to the Coast Guard which uses it for many of its radio transmission towers today. Later beginning in 1962, drag races were held south of Pungo at Creed's Field.
 
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Richmond Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1964-present

This drag strip opened for racing in May 1964. It was built at a cost of $300,000 by Dan Weis and his father, John "Pop" Weis, and family. On Sunday, May 31, 1964, the drag strip hosted an NHRA Southeastern divisional meet. On June 7, 1964, Dan Weis, the track manager, drove his Mercury Comet A/FX in a match race against the '64 Hemi Dodge of Frank Perry. The 1964 track record of 182.37 MPH was held by Dick Swicker of Staunton in his AA/FD. On June 28, 1964, Swicker faced Joe Schubeck in a 2-of-3 match race. Schubeck broke Swicker's mark with a run of  7.96 seconds at 193.23 MPH. On July 4th weekend, Jim Hundley beat Tony Nancy in a best-of-three match race. On September 12, 1964, Richard Petty and Junior Johnson raced in a best 3-of-5 match race. Other big-name racers who ran at Richmond in its early years included Tommy Ivo, Jack Chrisman, Doug Cook, Don Garlits, Ronnie Sox, Don Nicholson, and featured races with jet cars and wheelstanders. In 1965, Richmond was sanctioned by AHRA and was scheduled to be the site of the AHRA Spring Nationals in May 1966. On August 8, 1965, Tommy Ivo turned an unofficial 220.58 MPH in 7.69 seconds in his streamlined 4-engined dragster (see video below).
 
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Richmond Dragway, August 8, 1965, 3:49 minutes

Roanoke Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1958-64
 
This venerable drag strip purportedly opened on June 29, 1958, under NHRA sanction. The Roanoke Dragsters car club conducted races during the early years, generally on the first and third Sunday in 1959. They raced every Sunday in 1960.  More research is needed on its early years. The strip was located two miles south of Roanoke on Route 679 between Routes 119 and 220. It was sanctioned by NASCAR in 1961.On June 10, 1961, racing was held on Saturday nights instead of on Sundays because they had new lights. It had a new half mile worth of paving on the track. Keister Terry was the track manager. Housing subdivisions have been built on the site of the old drag strip. Today's Turkey Hollow Road is the site of the old drag strip track.
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August 4-5, 1962
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Roanoke Drag Strip is marked on this 1965 topo map

Suffolk Raceway

  • Years of Operation: 1963-91
 
This track opened in 1963, with races being held on an unused runway at Suffolk Municipal Airport. On Memorial Day, May 31, 1965, Tom "Smoker" Smith captured the top prize of $1200 in the fiberglass Hemi-engined ultra stocker event. He bested a field that included Don Nicholson, Huston Platt, Ronnie Sox, and NASCAR drivers Tiny Lund and Buck Baker. In 1969 it was sanctioned by NHRA and was heralded as the longest drag strip on the East Coast. Hank Hankins was the track manager then. In August 1970, Pee Wee Wallace set the strip record with a run of 209.78 MPH in his funny car. A month later in the Dixie Drag Classic, Gene Snow upped the track record to 211.26 MPH in 6.89 seconds. On April 12, 1971, Tommy Ivo was featured in a match race, winning three straight with a best clocking of 6.90 seconds at 215.82 MPH. On May 10, 1971, Tommy Grove set a new funny car track record with a run of 6.83 seconds at 212.26 MPH. On July 12, 1971, the track featured a match race between two four-engined dragsters. Jim Harwood bested Gary Weckesser with his Buick Wagonmaster, turning a best of 8.70 seconds and 176.80 MPH. On August 23, 1971, the Mattell-sponsored "Hot Wheels" funny cars of Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen were featured in a match race. On September 12, 1971, Ronnie Sox equaled the track's pro stock track record with a 9.63 second run. On September 10, 1972, Tom Grove broke the strip record for funny cars again with a 218.93 MPH run. The track had to close in 1991 because the FAA wanted to renovate it and bring it back into aviation use.  By 1991, the condition of the track at the finish line was a bit rough.
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CLICK HERE to see video slide show of Suffolk Raceway, 1973, 2:45 minutes
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Suffolk Raceway, August 25, 1991, Coca Cola Dixie Drag Classic, 2:18 minutes, no sound
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Suffolk Raceway, mid-1970s, 8:46 minutes, no sound

Sumerduck Dragway

  • Years of Operation: ca. 1959-present
 
Roger Curtis bought Sumerduck Dragway in 1963, despite knowing that the previous two owners had taken the track to bankruptcy. Curtis said, "I had a feeling we could do something with this place. There was nothing here but a big field and this little old track. It really needed working on." In 1963, there were no guardrails, no lights, no timing system--essentially just a long slab of pavement in the middle of a forest. Curtis ran the strip without insurance during the first decade because he simply couldn't afford it. This drag strip was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip . Research has not found the year the track first opened. A fatality that occurred at the NHRA-sanctioned 1/8th-mile strip on November 10, 1996, was widely reported throughout the country. Daniel Ray George lost control of his race car and hurtled into the grandstands, killing one 36-year-old mother, Vickie Lynn Foster, and injuring seven other people, including the victim's 5-year-old son. A racer, Mitchell Morton, was killed at the strip in 1991. In 2003, Roger turned over the operation to his daughter, Joy, and her husband, Mike Anderson.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Sumerduck Dragway, 2009, 9:05 minutes

Tappahannock Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1958-59
 
This drag strip, located in Jacks Fork,  purportedly opened in 1958, but more research is needed. Drag races took place at the air strip at Jacks Fork, just off Route 17. That airport is now called Tappahannock Municipal Airport. A 2-day meet was held on October 17-18, 1959, with both quarter- and half-mile drag races. Altered and fuel cars only raced a quarter mile.
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Virginia Beach Drag Strip/Freedom 7 Dragway/Creeds Field

  • Years of Operation:  1962-85
 
This drag strip, located on an old military airfield, was listed among NHRA sanctioned tracks in Hot Rod as running every Sunday. It was 1/5th-mile racing only.  It was called Virginia Beach Drag Strip at that time, but went through a succession of names during its history. Built by the Navy in 1945 as an outer landing field to support training operations in NAS Norfolk, this airfield had three 2,500-foot concrete runways. It was decommisioned after the war and essentially abandoned.   Thomas Belvins recalled, “ I can remember drag racing at Creeds from my high school days in the early 1960s.” Racing continued there into the 1970s.   Don McMahon recalled, “I was a Police Officer in Virginia Beach during the mid-late 1970s and I know that Creeds was used for organized drag racing on weekends; we were detailed to it checking for underage drinking and crowd control." Richard Gouldman attended a late-night drag race there in the 1960s. He said, "We were vacationing at Virginia Beach with friends back in the '60's and were at some drive-in hamburger joint. We kept seeing drag cars pass by, on trailers and such. We questioned our waitress, and proceeded into what seemed the wilderness, and eventually found this place. We didn't arrive until maybe 11:00 PM, and saw the best darn show I have ever seen. We left around 2:00 in the morning and they were still running. There was nothing but A/FX, S/S, or whatever the top dogs were then, Lafayette Ford Mustang with wild wheelstands, Big Red Dodge, Color-Me-Gone Mopar, Bounty Hunter.  I can't recall names and cars now, but a field of top class name cars. Strip was not lighted. Everyone ran down the same piece of asphalt that was the return lane, albeit a few plastic cones. I don't know that anyone was eliminated. They would have a break and racing resumed, same competitors. Wildest show I ever saw.  My memory may be a bit exaggerated, but I think there were no less than a dozen cars there that night, every single one a big name, cars that you would see in the magazines. They must have had a swell purse, but then I'm sure they didn't have to share the gate with NHRA or somebody. Ha!  I have had occasion to visit dragstrips in a lot of states, from Kent Washington to the Carolinas, but I don't think I have ever been more entertained than the times I visited Budd's Creek, Maryland, and particularly this little podunk track near the beach. Course I was young and impressionable." Steve Kinney remembered that it was called Creeds in the 1980s and was able to pinpoint the year it closed. He said, "The track closed for good after the 85 season. I was the track champion that last year. it is currently being used by the Va. Beach police department for driver training."
 
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Virginia International Raceway (Alton)

  • Years of Operation: 1959
 
This road course, originally opened in 1957, purportedly staged drag races in 1959, but research in newspapers has been unable to confirm that. More research is needed.
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