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Drag Strip List

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia

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WASHINGTON

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Shelton Airport (1951)
Bremerton Airport/Raceway (1952)
Walla Walla "Drag Strip" (1952)
Arlington Municipal Airport/Arlington Drag Strip (1953)
Deer Park Drag Strip (1953)
Bellingham Drag Strip (1954)
Winlock-Toledo Airport (1954)
Southwest Washington Fair (Chehalis) (1956)
Port Angeles Airport (1957)​​
Skagit County Airport (Bay View) (1959)
Pacific Raceways/Seattle International Raceways (Kent) (1960)
Puyallup Dragway (1960)
Ellensburg Airport Drag Strip (1962)
Bonanza Raceways/Walla Walla Drag Strip (1970)
Renegade Raceway (Wapato) (1970)
Spokane Raceway Park/Spokane County Raceway (1974)

 
Robert Fredell at Hudson Drag Strip. Photographer unknown

Arlington Municipal Airport/Arlington Drag Strip

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  • Years of Operation: 1953-69

Located just outside Marysville and eleven miles north of Everett, drag races were conducted on the macadam runway at least as early as 1953. They were conducted by the Western Washington Timing Association in those earliest years. They regularly drew crowds of over 2,000 at these events. The track record in 1953 was 104.62 MPH set by Roy Berg in his dragster. During a drag race event at the airport on July 22, 1956, Bernard R. Doud, a race track official, was killed in a freak accident. He was struck by an oncoming race car when he rushed across the track to put out a fire in another car. He was 29 years old and lived in Seattle.Racing was initially held on two runways, but this was reduced to one runway in 1964, and in 1969 racing at the airport ended entirely. Herb McNutt was the strip manager in 1966. On August 6-7, 1966, held a 2-day drag program. They featured a funny car match race between Harold Peterson's Fairlane against the Scott-Boyd racing team's Corvair. The strip was sanctioned by NHRA began being called Arlington Drag Strip at least by 1961. That event was a warm-up for the 2-day Governor's Trophy Speed Extravaganza held on August 20-21, 1966. In a 1968 issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip , it was called Arlington Timing Association Drag Strip.
August 22-23, 1964
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Arlington drag racing in the mid-1960s, 8mm movies, 3 minutes, no sound

Bellingham Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1954

In May 1954, the Bellingham police chief offered his support to a drag strip being built there. It was to be 40 feet wide and one half mile long.  The Whatcom County Timing Association leased the property and built the drag strip on an old Army access road behind Bellingham's municipal airport.  Photographs of the drag strip are found in Hot Rod Magazine, (July 1954): 36-38. The airport was built and put into operation in 1940. It was used by the Air Force during World War II, then turned over to Whatcom County for civil use after the war. More research is needed.
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Bonanza Raceway/Walla Walla Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1970-73, 1999-present

Drag races were held on an unused taxiway on the western edge of Walla Walla Airport prior to 1970. They seem to have been held on a somewhat informal basis. In 1970, a corporation, headed by Jerry McBee, was formed and $30,000 was expended on improving the taxiway to conduct more professional events. News reports of the time state that the Bonanza operation was held on the "newly improved Middle Waitsburg Road drag strip." The airport board gave approval to Bonanza because "proper controls were included in the plans." They previously had denied other requests because of "one bad experience." It is not known what this "bad experience" was. Was it when the airport was used back in the 1950s (see below)?  The quarter-mile strip was sanctioned by NHRA. On Sunday, June 14, 1970, grudge races were held to open Bonanza Raceway's drag racing program. The following Sunday, June 21, 1,300 spectators attended Bonanza Raceway's first meet of class competition. Seventy-five entries raced on that day. Bob Verstag clocked the fastest time in his B dragster with 136 MPH. The grand opening of the track was held on June 28, 1970. The track record by August 1970 was 205 MPH and 7.19 ET. They had to halt racing after 1973 because they weren't successful in getting a bank loan to continue racing. In 1999, Stuart Rowe spearheaded organizing a couple of drag races on the old airport strip and Bonanza Raceway was reborn. At the first race, there were 65 cars and 650 spectators. When word got out for the second race, there were 120 cars and 1200 fans. One-eighth mile races were done with a flag start and flag boys at the finish. Just like old times.  But with the interest shown, a full slate of racing with timing equipment was installed for the 2000 season. The old track was off and running. New bleachers to seat 1,500 people were built. Racing was scheduled on a once-a-month basis from April through October. In July 2000, officials mandated that Bonanza be sanctioned by NHRA in order to continue racing. In 2009 the track's name was changed to Walla Walla Drag Strip. Five local businessmen (Steve Kelty, Doug Luttrell, Doug Watts, Larry Thomason, and Lee Champ) purchased the track that year to keep the racing going as it was on the brink of being closed after the 2008 season. It continues to operate today as an NHRA-sanctioned 1/8th-mile track.
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2009
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Bonanza Raceway, 2007, 0:58 minutes

Bremerton Airport/Raceway

  • Years of Operation: 1952-present

Drag races started being held on a little-used runway of Kitsap County Airport (now Bremerton National Airport), located eight miles southwest of Bremerton. The airport was used by the Navy during World War II. Racing started being sponsored by the Handlers Car Club, when they leased the airport in 1959. The Handlers Racing Association has continued to lease the track annually to the present. In the August 1960 issue of Hot Rod, races were listed as being held one or two times a month, conducted by the King County Youth Auto Council. In a 1968 issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip , it was called Bremerton Drag Strip.  H. M. Petersen was the track manager in 1969.   One old timer recalled , "Bremerton Raceway for years used a taxiway, prior to being permitted to use the abandoned runway. Then, when the runway was being used, the return "road" was also on the runway, on the right side of the track". All that separated the race lanes and return road were traffic cones. It was't until the late 70's/early 80's that NHRA said it could no longer be used that way. It was then that the taxiway was used as the return road. Later still NHRA said the return road could't pass through the spectator area; it was then that an actual, separate return road was paved to the left of the runway, and jersey barriers went up. Insurance requirements also had a big bearing on this." John Flesher, one of the founding members of the Handlers Car Club, recalled the logistics of holding a race in 1960-61. “We used to race on Saturday nights and we had two generators and a quarter-mile of 100 watt light bulbs,” Flesher recalled. “Sam Fitz and I were the ones winding up all of the lights when racing was over because we couldn’t leave anything behind. The lighting, light poles, fencing and barriers had to be removed and stored after each event. Nothing over a foot high was allowed near the air strip because it was still in use as an emergency landing area for the airport.” That continues to be the case today, as everything associated with the racing has to be set up for the race, and removed afterwards. It is one of the last strips in the country operating in this fashion.
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This poster probably dates to 1960. It was in possession of Reggie Washington, Mike McGraw's uncle, who raced at Bremerton in the 1950s and 1960s. Courtesy of Mike McGraw
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Bremerton Raceway, 2009 Cacklefest pushdown, filmed by Mickey Tomlin, 2:41 minutes

Deer Park Drag Strip

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  • Years of Operation: 1953-72
 
Located on an old airstrip just east of Deer Park, racing began at this place which was about fifteen miles north of Spokane in 1953. Today it is an operational airport--Deer Park Airport. Misfortune befell a 17-year-old high school student from Mead, Washington, attending the races on October 6, 1963. David Martin was struck by a piece of metal from an exploding clutch, while sitting about 75 feet from the strip. Richard Harvey, age 19, from Steptoe, was the driver of the car. It was sanctioned by NHRA in 1962-63. The track hosted an AHRA Grand American points race on September 8, 1968. In the June 1970 issue of Hot Rod, Deer Park Raceways was listed as an NHRA-sanctioned track.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Deer Park racing in the 1970s, filmed by Dennis Heppner, 3:28 minutes, no sound
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Deer Park racing in the 1950s, filmed by Ned Kelly, 13:32 minutes, no sound

Ellensburg Airport Drag Strip

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  • Years of Operation: 1956-72

The first drag races were held on a narrow  taxi-way that runs parallel to the southeast to northwest runway of the Bowers Fiield airport in 1956. It was known as Kittitas County Airport or Bowers Field. The runway may have been used later in the track's history, but not in the early years.  The races were conducted by the Windy Pipers car club, with help from the Ellensburg Jaycees. They held eight races in July and August 1956. During the course of that first year, one thousand drivers and 350 cars participated. At a race on June 23, 1957, Lew Conn of Yakima took top eliminator with a run of 13.70 seconds. Bob Cottrell of Yakima posted the fastest time in 1957 two weeks before with a 13.66 ET on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. In 1957, races were held every other Sunday, attracting between 50 to 75 racers and 200 spectators. One of the old timers , who worked as a finish-line judge at Ellensburg recalled, "When we raced at Ellensburg, we never really had any timing equipment, just a start light. . . I was a "Judge" at one time at the end with a white piece of plywood nailed to a 2 x 4."  Drag races were sanctioned by NHRA at Bowers Field airport at least by 1962.
 
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June 9, 1957
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of drag racing at Ellensburg Airport in the early 1960s, 4:49 minutes, no sound
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of drag racing at Ellensburg Airport, early 1960s, first 23:40 minutes of the clip

Pacific Raceways/Seattle International Raceways (Kent)

  • Years of Operation: 1960-present
 
This legendary drag strip in the Northwest, constructed in 1959 on 320 acres by the Fiorito family, is part of a large motorsports complex which also includes a 2.25 mile road course. It was 5,000 feet long when first built. It was sanctioned by NHRA and held a divisional race in 1960. It's major event is the NHRA Northwest Nationals which began in 1987. The Fiorito family put the racing complex up for sale in 2014.
 
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CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Pacific Raceways, May 12, 1963, taken by Tex Steere, 2:49 minutes, no sound

Port Angeles Airport

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  • Years of Operation: 1957

The Road Lords sponsored and conducted a drag race at the airport on September 22, 1957, charging $1 for admission. More research is needed.
 
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September 22, 1957

Puyallup Dragway

  • Years of Operation: 1960-circa 1970s

Drag races were held adjacent to and just east of Thun Field (now Pierce County Airport) every Sunday since April 1960. Races were conducted by the Puyallup Racing Association. It was located about five miles south of Puyallup. It was the scene of a tragic fatal accident on September 4, 1960. Carol Ann Lobdell, age 21, driving a 1936 roadster in a Powder Puff Derby, lost control of the car at a speed over 116 MPH. It was only the second time she had driven the car. She was driving in the final race and had actually won the race, when it was thought that her accelerator stuck. She hit an embankment, rolled over and hit a tree. Newspapers throughout the country reported the accident. One old-timer attended his first drag race at Puyallup. "The first drag race I ever went to was at Puyallup Dragways," he wrote. "In fact, I was walking thru the pits/staging lanes, and the friend that brought me pulls me out of the way of a pickup truck being driven by a bearded, ragged looking guy; almost ran me down; turned out it was Jerry Ruth."  In 1965, the track was being called Puyallup International Dragway. Phil Elliott wrote a wonderful piece on why he loved Puyallup Dragway. He wrote, "I have very fond memories of some obscure place called Puyallup Dragway in western Washington. This was one of those dragstrips that was too narrow, too dark, too short with horrid food and smelly wooden out buildings and beyond that was just flat incredible. The promoter -- one 6-foot-eight-inch Clark Marshall - knew early on that to grab attention one must book-in attention grabbers. That is where the big shows were. If you wanted a nice Sunday afternoon at the drag races, you went to Pacific Raceway over in Kent. If you wanted to see flame-throwing match-races between jets and fuelers, you headed for Puyallup on Saturday. Of course, you could do both - many of us did. That's where I saw Don Garlits, learned to pronounce (and spell) Chris Karamesines, heard the Surfers, experienced the Little Red Wagon (along with about 8000 others), and smelled nitro fumes so heavy they almost knocked me out. You see, Pacific was a multi-use facility, with a 2.2-mile road course and nearly 400-acres to spread out. When you went through the front gate, it seemed like you still drove a couple miles to the action. At Puyallup, you barely got pulled off the highway before your senses went to full overload. Pacific was picturesque and pristine. Puyallup was carved out of the trees and barely paved. Gawd was it cool. Certainly, there were dozens (hundreds) of others like her in every nook and cranny of the country. Dragstrips that in retrospect were just a tad spooky to be hurtling down in nitro-hungry, 200mph monsters. They all came to Puyallup. Touring pros like TV Tommy Ivo dazzled me with his metalflake Caddy and showpiece AA/FDs. The new fangled funny cars came in 1965, including Dick Landy, Sox & Martin, Malcolm Durham, Dave Strickler and a dozen others. Many A/GS coupes roared down the slender black ribbon, including Shores & Hess and Kohler Bros., Jack Coonrod, Mike Mitchell, in front of my impressed young eyes. It was Puyallup that introduced me to fuel altereds - it was the place where I watched in awe as Willie Borsch literally thumped his peers which included Sush Matsubara, Leon Fitzgerald and Leroy Chadderton that night. It was the place that caused me to sneak out of the house, beg rides, then sneak in through the woods to see some of the craziest cars and shows conceivable. It was there that I took up lifelong friendships with folk like Jerry Ruth, Jim Green, Mike Miller, Jim Warter, Fred Vosk, Richard Schroeder and many others." In January 1969, Craig Breedlove bought the lease of Puyallup Dragway from Clark Marshall, who owned airfield at that time. Breedlove planned on moving his racing operation to Puyallup. But more research is needed to determine when the drag strip actually stopped operating.
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Puyallup Dragway, 1969 aerial photo
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Puyallup Dragway, 1969 topo map
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Puyallup drag racing in 1963, home movies taken by Ralph Grantier, 4:01 minutes

Renegade Raceway ​​(Wapato)

  • Years of Operation: 1970-present

The track's website claims that in 2016, the track was 46 years old, which would date its opening to 1970.  It is 5-6 miles southeast of Yakima and operates today as an NHRA-sanctioned strip. "Old Timer" found that it was sanctioned by NHRA as early as 1971, appearing in their drag strip guide for that year. The track was a basic bracket racing venue, with no major events on the slate.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of fuel dragster action at 2nd Annual Reunion Drags at Shelton, July 6-8, 2007, 4 minutes

Shelton Airport

  • Years of Operation: 1951-56, 1958-67

Drag races purportedly began in 1951, conducted by the Tacoma Timing Association at the Shelton Airport. A championship two-day meet was held on July 4-5, 1954, conducted jointly by the Tacoma Association and the Western Washington Timing Association. On May 20, 1956, a Tacoma teenager was severely beaten by three teenagers at an all-night party at the airport leading up to the drag race.  The Timing Association soon after took steps to ban all underage drinking and all-night parties illegally occurring at the airport. It was the first negative incident at the races. Despite the quick response of the Timing Association to the incident, the county prosecutor cancelled all Sunday races indefinitely. But after meeting with representatives of the Timing Association, the county prosecutor tentatively agreed to permit racing, but only if the association employed a deputy sheriff to patrol the airport to keep order. The Timing Association also said that they would kick out any spectators or drivers found to have beer or alcohol in their cars during the racing. At a race held at the airport on August 31, 1958, Dick Martin had to have his right leg amputated above the knee. He was severely injured when the Dyna-Flo transmission of his 1936 modified coupe blew up. One old timer did his very first drag race at Shelton:  "My first pass was at a drag strip in Shelton, Washington in 1958 in my Dad and Mom's brand new '57 Chev hardtop with a power pack 283. I took off the hubcaps and removed the aircleaner for more horse power. It had a Powerglide transmission. Of course my folks didn't know anything about the racing. The PG went bad and my Dad said they sure don't make them the way they used to. Later in life my Dad asked me if I had raced the car. When my Dad had a heart attack and was just about to pass away, the nurse pulled the plug on him so I figured if anything would bring my Dad out of the state he was in, I would tell him I raced the car. It didn't work. At least I told him. What a great car." New grandstands to seat 2,400 people were constructed for the 1967 season. Races were held every other Sunday beginning with the first race on April 9. At that race, Hollie Swindle was a featured wheelstander in his "Back Up Pickup." On May 7, 1967, Shelton hosted an NHRA divisional points meet.  In a 1968 issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip , it was called Shelton Drag Strip.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of fuel dragster action at 2nd Annual Reunion Drags at Shelton, July 6-8, 2007, 4 minutes

Skagit County Airport (Bayview)

  • Years of Operation: 1959-60

The Bayview Timing Association conducted races on a runway at the airport every other Sunday in at least 1959 and 1960--and possibly before. The airport, now Skagit Regional Airport at Bayview (north of Mt. Vernon), dates back to World War II in its present triangular runway-taxiway configuration. The federal government continued to operate it until 1958 when ownership was transferred to Skagit County. The track was sanctioned by NHRA.
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Southwest Washington Fair (Chehalis)

  • Years of Operation: 1956

The Lewis County commissioners signed a lease to hold drag races at the fairgrounds in Chehalis on July 3-5, 1956. More research is needed.
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Spokane Raceway Park/Spokane County Raceway

  • Years of Operation: 1974-present

The drag strip operation opened with a 3-day AHRA Spring Nationals event held on May 31, June 1-2, 1974. Racers at that opening event included Don Prudhomme, Dennis Baca, Gary Beck, John Wiebe, Tom McEwen, Ed McCullough, Jerry Ruth, Danny Ongais, and Sush Matsubara. Gary Beck beat Don Garlits to win top fuel. Prudhomme beat Tom Hoover to win funny car. At an AHRA event in mid-August 1980, Don Garlits broke his own world record in top fuel with a 5.732 run. The AHRA World Finals were held over four days in August 1989. The racing complex also includes a road course and oval track. The whole complex comprises 315 acres, built at a cost of $2 million, located northeast of Airway Heights and west of Spokane. The drag strip opened under AHRA sanction, switched to IHRA in 2015, and today operates under NHRA sanction.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Spokane Raceway Park, 2009, 5:53 minutes

Walla Walla "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1952-56

The Gear Jammers Timing Association began holding weekly drag races on Sundays starting in June 1952 at the Walla Walla airport. They charged 50 cents per person to watch.  Club members could race their cars at no cost. The club was trying to purchase a timing device in 1952. Although documentation is sporadic, there is evidence that drag races were being held at the airport through at least 1956.
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Winlock-Toledo Airport

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  • Years of Operation: 1954-55

The Winlock and Toledo Lions Clubs conducted a successful drag race during Winlock's annual Egg Day celebration on June 13, 1954. They made a net profit of $387, at the airport located about three miles northeast of Toledo. With this success, they held other drag races in July and August, attracting entries from western Washington and Oregon. The races were conducted by the Lewis County Quartermilers Club. They were insured and sanctioned by NHRA.
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July 11, 1954