KENTUCKY


Thorn Hill Dragstrip (Morning View) (1953)
Sturgis Municipal Airport (1955)
Cedar Creek Drag Strip/Bullitt Dragway (Fern Creek) (1956)
Beech Bend Raceway Park  (Bowling Green) (1957)​
Campbell Air Force Base (1957)
Kentucky Dam State Park Airport (Gilbertsville) (1957)
Riverside Drag Strip (Hopkinsville) (1957)
Owensboro Drag Strip (1958)​​
Central Kentucky Drag Strip/Campbellsville Dragway (1959)
Mountain Park Dragway (Clay City) (1963)
Somerset Drag Strip (1963)​
Bluegrass Dragway (Nicholasville) (1964)
U. S. 60 Dragway (Hardinsburg) (1964)
Manchester Dragway (1965)
Ohio Valley Raceway/Dragway (West Point) (1965)​
Stanford Motorcycle Track (1967)
McCracken County Drag-Strip/Beacon Dragway (Paducah) (1968)​​
Tompkinsville Dragway (1968)
​Mount Sterling "Drag Strip" (1960s)
Richmond Dragway (1960s)
Owensboro/Windy Hollow Raceway Park (1970)
Lone Oak "Drag Strip" (1980s)
River Cities Raceway Park (Ashland) (1986)
Bluegrass Raceway/I-64 Motorplex (Owingsville) (1988)
Mountain Motor Dragway (Isom) (1990)
Lake Cumberland Dragway (Jamestown) (1994?)
London Dragway (1999)
Ponderosa Speedway (Junction City) (2015)
Otter Lake Drag Strip (Madisonville) (?)
 
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Campbellsville Dragway. Photographer unknown

Beech Bend Raceway Park (Bowling Green)

  • Years of Operation: 1956-present
 
Beech Bend Raceway Park today is a complex consisting of a 1/3-mile paved oval and a 1/4-mile NHRA drag strip, located in the Beech Bend Amusement Park near Bowling Green, Kentucky. The drag strip's beginnings are not well documented and different sources contend about when it first opened. Allan E. Brown, a historian of American race tracks, asserted that a 1/4-mile dirt drag strip operated from 1951 through 1954. That assertion is patently wrong as a 1954 aerial photograph shows no drag strip on the property. An article in the August 12, 1956, Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer proves that there was no drag strip on the property before 1956--and that a drag strip was on track to open in September 1956. Russ Melvin, the newspaper's sports editor wrote, "The Beech Bend Park track there has decided to build a drag strip and will hold drag races in conjunction with its regular [oval track] program. The strip is to be completed by Sept. 1." Charley Garvin, the owner of the 400-acre amusement complex, was able to get a track ready in time to hold its first race on September 23,1956. The Black Hawks Rods and Customs car club from Franklin won over forty trophies during the races held in 1956. An article in the Nashville Tennessean reported that the first race in the 1957 season was held on April 14. That race drew about fifty cars from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. Top Eliminator was garnered by Robert Burris from Franklin, Kentucky, running his '57 Mercury in the Super Stock class. More light was shed about the track's beginnings in a 1959 newspaper article. It mentioned that Garvin built a half-mile dirt drag strip. The first quarter mile was for racing and the last quarter mile was for shutdown. He had been running a 1/3-mile dirt oval track, but after becoming alarmed at the increasing number of highway accidents from drag racing, he added the drag strip. "We might as well bring it [drag racing] out into the open," Garvin said in the 1956 Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer article, "set up rules for it and try to control it on a special strip." When the strip was first built, only 15-20 cars from the immediate Bowling Green area raced at the strip. But its popularity grew and by 1959, the strip drew about 150 racers from a three-or-four state area. And the increasing speeds of the racers had necessitated the strip being lengthened to over a mile. The strip was also paved in 1958 for the first 6/10th of a mile, with plans made to finish paving the remainder. $300 was divvied up weekly between the winners of the four eliminator categories, with trophies awarded to the winners of any of nineteen classes. When the strip first opened, there were no trophies--only the satisfaction of winning and beating another racer. The track record in 1959 was just a shade over 11 seconds. On October 18, 1959, Beech Bend held its first Kentucky Open Drag Racing Championship. The purse of $700 was the largest ever offered in the state. David Garvin managed the track in the early 1970s, operating every Sunday from March through September. One black mark in the strip's history happened during an NHRA national event on May 27, 1979. Eighty-eight people were arrested in what newspapers described as "rioting," when police were pelted with rocks and bottles while trying to quell the situation. A fight began when a man was dragged from his van and severely beaten. His van was burned and pushed into a river. It was a dark day in the track's history. Read Don Jensen's recollections of attending a drag race at Beech Bend in 1957 when the strip was dirt in Memories (Kentucky).
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October 6, 1957
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1958
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Beech Bend Raceway in 1969, 4:08 minutes
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Hot Rod Power Festival at Beech Bend Raceway in 2001, 7 minutes
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Beech Bend Raceway, ​​​​​​​​​​​​ 1958 aerial photo
Beech Bend Raceway, ​​​​​​​​​​​​ 1969 topo map
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Austin Myers drove the Hummel & Roeckner twin-engine AA/GD. to a new NHRA national record of 208.33 MPH at Beech Bend in 1971 Photo published in Louisville Courierl-Journal, Nov. 2, 1971

Bluegrass Dragway (Nicholasville)

 
Located on US 27, five miles south of Lexington, this track was sanctioned by NHRA in 1965. In 1967, races were held every Sunday and Roger Ferguson was the track manager. Ronnie Chasteen wrote, "I raced there during the late 60's . . . .Just about every Sunday I went to the drags instead of church." On September 22, 1968, Dave Zachary was killed while driving his '67 Cadillac Eldorado funny car during a match race at Bluegrass. His car barrell-rolled after passing the finish line and the roll cage collapsed. By 1969 or 1970, improvements made to the track enabled it to garner NHRA sanction. On August 10, 1969, Bob Parham set a track ET record with a 7.53 clocking in his AA/D. One month later, Tommy Ivo set a new track record with a run of 6.92 at 223.88 MPH. In September 1970, the track hosted a two-day NHRA division race. The pro class winners were Ronnie Martin (TF), Paul Radici (FC), and Arlen Vanke (Pro Stock).  In 1977, the track was sanctioned by IHRA. The track hosted a 2-day IHRA points race on April 23-24 in 1977 and on May 6-7, 1978. This track is now on the footprint of Industry Parkway, in an industrial area about two miles north of downtown Nicholasville, just east of Highway 27.
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October 24, 1965
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Bluegrass Dragway, ​​​​​​​​​​​ 1971 aerial photo
Bluegrass Dragway, ​​​​​​​​​​​​ 1967 topo map
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Bluegrass Dragway, circa 1973, 5:39 minutes, no sound

Campbell Air Force Base

 
A drag race, limited to only military personnel, was scheduled to be held on Saturday, August 10, 1957.  However the race was open for the public to watch. The event was planned to help raise funds for the Air Force Aid Society.
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Central Kentucky Drag Strip/Campbellsville Dragway

 
Today's Dragstrip Road, a residential street, marks the site of Campbellsville's old drag strip. The Kentucky State Championship Drag Races were held on November 15, 1959.  In its early years, it was called Central Kentucky Drag Strip. A 1960 historic aerial photo shows the layout of the old strip, possibly during its construction. In 1966, the strip opened under the management of the Danville Sportsdrome Speedway. At least by then it was being called Campbellsville Drag Strip. Charles Denton was the strip's new manager and Peanuts Moore was in charge of classifying and inspecting the cars. In July 1966, races were changed from 1/4-mile to 1/8-mile and from Sunday night to Saturday night. But 1966 was apparently the track's final year as documentation could not be found after that year.
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July 2-4, 1960
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1960
Campbellsville Dragway, 1960 ​​​​​​​​​​​ historic aerial photo
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April 3, 1966
June 5, 1966

Cedar Creek Drag Strip/Bullitt Dragway ​​​​​(Fern Creek)

 
Soon after C.W. "Wally" Sunderhauf bought a farm on Cedar Creek Road in northern Bullitt County, some young men approached him about building a drag strip in November 1955. According to an excellent historical article , they visited drag strips in other states and Wally thought it held promise. They entered into an agreement and began working to level and grade the track. They had it ready to open for a race on July 4, 1956, conducted by the Kentuckiana Timing Association. Thousands of people showed up to see the opener, causing a massive traffic situation on the narrow dirt road leading to the track. In November 1956, T. E. Tucker, John Stillwell, and C. W. Sunderhauf were indicted by a Bullit County grand jury in connection with creating and operating the strip, deemed to be a common nuisance. Drag strips and drag racing had a bad reputation in conservative Kentucky in the 1950s. Bill Powell, a columnist in a Paducah newspaper wrote, "In the minds of many people a drag strip means a lot of slimy-eyed people, all young and long-haired, with nothing on their minds but speed, speed, speed."  The track was strictly a dirt track for several years before getting paved in 1960. In fact, at the opening race, the newspaper reported, "The dust was everywhere. It was 90 degrees in the shade, and there was no shade." It had 6-foot deep ditches bordering the length of the track and just a chain-link fence in front of the bleachers. It started being called Bullitt Dragway in 1961. The track operated without sanctioning in the 1960s. Frances Sunderhauf, Wally's wife, defended their lack of sanctioning. "A lot of people make a big thing about sanctioning," said Frances, "but our strip has safety standards as high, or higher than some sanctioned strips. Our insurance company demands that our strip have certain safety features." Wally had to battle complaints and lawsuits for several years to keep it going. Those legal problems discouraged the young men, so Wally and his wife, Frances, had to shoulder all those challenges and operate the strip on their own. But with increased insurance costs and federal safety regulations, Wally decided to pull the plug on the drag strip operation.  The race track is a corn field today. Hay is stored on what's left of the track to keep airplanes from mistaking the old strip for a part of the Bluelick Airport, lying just due west. Local racers used to call the race track "Cheater Creek."
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July 4, 1956
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August 12, 1956
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Bullitt  Dragway, ​​​​​​​​​​​​ 1971 aerial photo
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1993 aerial view of site of Bullitt Dragway
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1960
Bullitt  Dragway, ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ 1972 topo map
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This ad for a race to be held on March 11, 1973, was printed in the Louisville Courier-Journal. However it is entirely possible that the race was never held. Melvin "Straw" Gross spoke with Wally Sunderhauf before he passed away. Wally told him that 1972 was the track's final year of racing.The end of the strip was on land that was owned by a neighboring farmer. That farmer put hay bales on his property before the start of the 1972 season. That was his way of telling Wally that he didn't want any more racing taking place on his land. So Wally changed the racing from 1/4-mile to 1/8-mile for the 1972 season. That change was not real popular with the racers, so 1972 was probably the last year of the track's operation.
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Cedar Creek Drag Strip in 1960, 3 minutes, music only/no sound

Kentucky Dam State Park Airport (Gilbertsville)

 
The Kiwanis Club of South Paducah began holding once-a-month drag races on the runway of the airport beginning on April 21, 1957. The monthly races were scheduled to continue through October. The races were under NASCAR control.
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Lone Oak "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1980s
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
Little is known about this dirt drag strip. It was located on Lovelaceville Road in Lone Oak. At a race on July 25, 1981, a man was injured when the throttle on his dragster stuck and he ran off the end of the strip and crashed into a tree. More research is needed.
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McCracken County Drag Strip/Beacon Dragway ​​​​(Paducah)

  • Years of Operation: 1969-1977, 2008, 2013-present
 
Incorporation papers were filed for McCracken County Drag-Strip by Merle S. Shemwell on July 15, 1968. Shares of stock were sold to help finance its construction. It staged an informal grudge race on August 10, 1959, to open the track to racing. It operated as McCracken County Drag Strip from 1969 to 1972. In 1970, a new management group called C-H-K Racing took over. In early 1970, the drag strip had a lawsuit brought against it by the Armco company that sold them the guardrails for not paying them. It was called Western Kentucky Dragway from 1973 to 1976, sanctioned by NHRA, and owned by Burnett S. Simons. It then converted to a small private airport called Grow Airpark when Don Farrington and John Potter bought the property. In the mid-1970s it began being called Paducah International Dragway. A banked oval track called Paducah International Raceway had been built next to the drag track in 1972. There was a race or two put on in 2008, again being called Western Kentucky Dragway. Keith Murt and Dr. Blaine Grow, one of the co-owners of Grow Airpark,  built the 1/8th-mile NHRA-sanctioned Beacon Dragway on the site of the old Farrington Airpark and a portion of Grow Airpark, opening it to racing on May 18, 2013. It is seven miles southeast of Paducah.
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August 17, 1969
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This ad promotes a June 6, 1971, race for West Kentucky Dragway
Drag races were promoted for Paducah International Dragway in this 1976 newspaper ad
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Western Kentucky Dragway in 2008, 7:29 minutes

Manchester Dragway

  • Years of Operation:  early 1960s- ?
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

Incorporation papers were filed for the Manchester Dragway on June 4, 1965. It may have begun earlier. Research has found little about this drag strip, except for reminiscent memories of old timers. Here is a summary of recollections taken by a son from his elderly father:   "My family are all from Manchester. I called my dad today and told him I needed to know something about his youth. He laughed and said good luck. He's getting close to 80 and can't remember his own kid's name half the time. I asked him if there was ever a race track in Manchester. His quick reply was yes. I asked when was this and he said when he was really young. I said you never told me that . . . . I kept trying to get more out of him and asked where it was. He blew my mind and told me, 'you know where the park is and the hospital is?' 'Yes.' 'None of that was there. The roads have been moved around to get there, but you turned there.' He said he thinks they are called different streets now, but back then it was 'take a left on Green Brier Road and then right on Dead Engine Hill.'  What a cool name, huh! He said you went up that hill and the race track was on a flat that was on the top of the mountain.
Thinking about it, I remember going up that hill and back down it. It was steep. . . . Dad went on about sitting on the porch when he was 17 or 18 in Pennington holler, which is called Pennington Hill now. It was pretty far from the track and he could still hear the pipes open up when they gunned it. Too Cool!"   Another racer told about his friend who raced his stock Chevelle at Manchester. He related, "He said he got to the finals and had to run the local hot shot in a super stock "stocker". . . . and was told to never come back by the sheriff. Another guy said he got his slicks slashed in the staging lanes. Also heard of having to be pulled up the hill just to be able to race." Speedy Denny wrote DSL that the drag strip "was on the flat top of a strip mine."
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Mount Sterling "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1960s
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

George Webster operated a drag strip on his Montgomery County farm circa 1963-64. On Friday, April 17, 1964, he was doing some work on his tractor at the drag strip when the tractor overturned on him. The man working with him rushed to a nearby farm to get a tractor to lift the tractor off of Webster, but it was too late. He had already passed away. Webster was seventy years old. Research has found nothing else about this drag strip.
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Located near Isom, this racing complex includes a 3/8th-mile dirt oval (dating to 1969) and a 1/8th-mile drag strip. Documentation on this is scant, but Allan E. Brown, a historian of American race tracks, stated that this strip opened in October 1990. David McGee, a historian of Kentucky automobile racing, wrote DSL that he had a friend who recalled drag racing there in about 1991.  Barry Lane Proffitt filed incorporation papers for the strip on July 29, 2003.  The strip appears to have closed in 2016, but that is not certain. Research help is welcome.

Mountain Motor Dragway ​​(Isom)

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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Mountain Motor Racing Complex Drag Strip, 2010, 9:45 minutes

Mountain Park Dragway (Clay City)

  • Years of Operation: 1963-present

Built and owned by the Kennon family, the track continues to operate under IHRA sanction, with both 1/8th and 1/4-mile racing. It opened in 1963 running on Sundays under NHRA sanction. It began staging the Ken-Mor Bluegrass Nationals, a continuing tradition, in 1970. On Saturday, July 16, 1977, the track hosted an IHRA National Title Series race with a $15,000 purse attracting over 300 competitors. The track underwent a complete overhaul and renovation in order to stage the event. The track underwent further improvements in 2001 including new grandstands, bathrooms, concrete barriers, etc.
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1977
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1980
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of Mountain Park Dragway, ca. 1964-65, 1:51 minutes
CLICK HERE to see TV video footage about Mountain Park Dragway, filmed in 2004, 1:18 minutes

Ohio Valley Raceway/Dragway (West Point)

  • Years of Operation:   1965-present

This 1/8th mile track opened on May 15, 1965 as Ohio Valley Raceway.  The track was built by brothers, Wayne and Jim Williams. Wayne Williams wrote about those beginning years :  "Ohio Valley Raceway was built and opened in the spring of 1965 by my brother, Jim, and me, Wayne Williams.  Jim passed away in 2003 which leaves me to try to recall how it all got started, forty-five years ago.  Jim and I always shared a love of fast cars, but in order to watch, or participate in drag racing we had to travel to Hardinsburg, Sturgis or Seymour.  From our teenage years of cruising the parking lots of drive-in restaurants, we knew there were as many fans of hot cars in the Louisville area as anywhere else, but who had nowhere to legally drag race.  We heard opportunity at the door but until we opened the gates to our track that first night, we could not have imagined how loud it was knocking.       Jim was twenty years old at the time and I was twenty-six.  Together, we could not have scratched up enough money to build a go-cart track, let alone a drag strip.  So we approached our father who was certainly no fan of fast cars.  Over the years, any time my '57 Chevy or Jim's 409 powered Corvette pulled into the parking lot of his hardware store in Orell, Kentucky, he merely shook his head.  It took many grueling sessions with our dad to convince him that this was a viable venture, but in the end, he conceded but with strict provisions on a pay-back schedule. The grass airport off Dixie Highway on Katherine Station Road was owned by a man named Huff.  We knew him as a customer at Dad's hardware store.  To us it seemed an ideal place to build a race track and after several weeks of negotiations, we agreed on a price.  Around Christmas of 1964, we put shovels to the ground.  Everything we were spending was borrowed so it was low-budget all the way.  We painted the old aircraft hanger and house.  Excavating and paving of the main strip, return strip, and a few other small areas was finished as soon as weather permitted.  We built a 16'x16' wooden two-story tower near the starting line.  The windows were simply plywood flaps that opened to the inside and left the operations crew exposed to the elements.  We used farm fencing to separate the spectator areas from the track. The Christmas tree and timer was a home-grown monster and the source of many headaches later.  In mid-April of 1965 we opened on a wing and a prayer.  Absolute pandemonium would probably best describe opening night - total chaos.  Katherine Station Road was the only access to the track and it was at a total standstill by 6:30 - cars with nowhere to go, double-parked all the way back to Dixie Highway, the south lane of which was at a standstill all the way back to Al's Bait Shop, a distance of over two miles.  So, with nowhere else to turn -we went to racing.  The farm fencing we installed to keep the spectators safe, was about 15 feet from the track. By the time we started a match race between two wheel-standing 'A'gassers, 'spectators' had broken off every T post at grass level, flattened the fence and were standing with their toes on the edge of the pavement.        From the git-go, this opening night was a family affair - our wives running the concession stand and friends selling tickets and directing traffic.  Needless to say, we were sorely understaffed. The next Monday morning brought the need for some changes - in a hurry.  A new 7-foot chain-link fence was installed from the start line to the finish, keeping the fans off the track.  We opened more entry gates for the pits and increased the waiting area.  Security was a big problem so we hired two of the hardest-nosed security people we could find, solving, forever, that glitch.  A tribute here to Emmet Crane and J.T.S. Brown.  They kept me in beer. In the weeks, months and years to follow, other problems were solved by updating everything, it seemed.  A new timing system solved the Christmas Tree snafu.  More paving improved the staging area.  A more powerful PA system allowed everyone to hear.  A professional announcer kept things running smoothly.  The competition procedures were enhanced.  We improved everything to the point where we thought we might get the nod for a NHRA sanction.  With the help and guidance of Bob and Eileen Daniels, Ohio Valley Raceway became the first sanctioned 1/8th mile track - anywhere.  I would like to list some of the high points over the years in no particular order:  The concession stand developed the best chili dog I have ever had, to this day.  When the floods came, so did the snakes: Big Daddy Don was there and so was Grump. There were many more national heroes who passed through the Valley, too many to mention.  I especially remember with fondness, the deer that crossed the track during eliminations, and Jim Cusic's big left turn at the finish line at 100 mph.  And who could forget the night we searched in the weeds for 15 minutes, for Bill English after his brakes failed. We got to see Frakes & Funks' twin-engine Chrysler-powered front engine car, John Carter's Willys eating up the first third of the track on rear wheels only.  We were the origins of 'Honest' in John's Carter's name.  The Valley went toNational Trails and impressed everyone at the first 1/8th mile Championship.  Many national record holders came from the Valley because fierce competition breeds champions.  There were some low points, most, better forgotten, but the name Ed Payne always comes to mind.  In 1970 we sold the track to a great racer and good friend, Jessie Ballew."   Jessie Ballew and Charlie Meyer wrote about the years 1970-85 , when it was owned by Ballew:  " I purchased Ohio Valley Raceway from Jim and Wayne Williams in 1970 on a five year contract with two years extra if weather was really bad and prevented a lot of racing. I was able to pay it off in the five year window. Wayne stayed on to help run the track. Mom and Dad worked there, also my wife Jenny and brother Eugene. I think they all enjoyed it. Juanita Baker ran the concession stand and kept everything top quality, and she was a great friend of the Ballew family. We had a very good crew including Travis Miller, Huey Darnell, Charlie Meyer, and many others.  Always tried to improve the track and operations. We built the new tower and tore down the old house then built the new garage and restrooms.  Added bleachers bought in Terre Haute, In. Later we added an extension to the track for the shutdown area. We usually started the program with the competition and modified eliminations then on to stock and super stock.  Always kept the action moving with no delays when possible, giving spectators the best show. We tried to book in many top racers for match races, etc.  Such as Don Garlits, Bill Jenkins, John Lingenfelter, Blue Max, Dick Lahaie, Bob Glidden, Don Prudomme, Raymond Godman, Tennessee Bo Weevil, Shirley Muldowney and the Frakes and Funk AA/FD.  The Louisville and Southern Indiana area has many top racers, some of the best in the country still come from right here, along with a lot of National Record Holders. We had 15 years of very good racing at first as an NHRA track and then as a IHRA track.  I was always in attendance for the first 12-13 years. Racers didn't always agree with everything we did, but we always tried to be as fair as possible and would have reruns when needed. We started the Door Slammer Nationals in 1975, it became the largest Sportsman Event if the time and still continues today with the 36th annual in October, 2010. When the floods would come and cover the track, we would bring hoses and pumps and stay there 24/7 to keep the track washed off as the water went down.  I always enjoyed fast and nice appearing cars, and raced a lot of cars, including Corvettes, 57 Chevy's, Kellison and one old Studebaker. Frank Spencer and I became close  friends and we raced together a long time. We held the SS/I record for a long time with a 68 Corvette.  Frank worked very hard on the race car, and became a very talented engine builder. I have very many good memories of the track and racing in general and still have many friends from those days. I may do a little racing again this year myself.  I have always remained friends with Jim & Wayne Williams and in 1985, I sold the track to other friends, Mike Kayrouz and Fred Everitt."
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1965
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1971
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July 8, 1972
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April 13, 1973
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June 24-25, 1978
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August 2, 1980
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Ohio Valley Dragway, 2009, 2:42 minutes
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Otter Lake Drag Strip (Madisonville)

  • Years of Operation:  ?-?
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

Research has found nothing about this track, except the fact that it existed. More research is needed to determine the years it operated, its location, and details of its history. Input is needed.
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Owensboro Drag Strip

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history of this drag strip states that the track was built by Hal Miller on Veach Road in Owensboro. It opened in 1958. As the story goes, a group of hot rodders asked Miller if he had a place where a drag strip could be built. He did. Miller built the track, the hot rodders conducted the races, and Miller ran the concession stand as a lease payment. When it was first built, it was a two-lane track with a chip-and-seal kind of surface and a dirt shutdown area. The first race on the newly-paved track was run on August 10, 1958. Norman Hall garnered top eliminator and top time in his '57 Corvette with a 15.45 ET. One old timer recalled: "it was located just outside town, past the Owensboro Country Club, off of Veach Road. It was a 'modest' operation, with an old stop-light starting system and because it had no 'Christmas tree' for handicap starts the time-honored car length spotting system was used. So, if you had an A/Stock 427 Ford racing a V/Stock '52 Studebaker the Stude was positioned almost halfway down the track."  With Owensboro experiencing growth, Miller started getting pressure from city leaders about his race track. In 1970 Miller built a dirt short track oval at the Windy Hollow Fairgrounds. He decided to vacate Owensboro and in 1970 moved his drag strip next to the dirt track at Windy Hollow (see enty below). It was called Windy Hollow then. 
September 14, 1958
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Two cars line up on the starting line of the newly-paved Owensboro Drag Strip prior to the opening race. Photo published in ​​Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, Aug. 10, 1958
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Ed Cauley (left) and Tom Bickett (right) leave the starting line in a race at Owensboro Drag Strip on September 7, 1959. Photo published in ​​​Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, Sep. 8, 1959
Two cars running in the SA class get a flag start in 1958. Photo published in ​​​Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, Sep. 15, 1958
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Owensboro Drag Strip, ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ 1969 topo map
Owensboro Drag Strip, ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ 1967 aerial photo

Owensboro/Windy Hollow Raceway Park

  • Years of Operation: 1970-2014, 2017-18

history of this drag strip states that Hal Miller moved his 1/8th-mile drag strip from Owensboro to Windy Hollow Fairgrounds in 1970.  At that time, Hal and Deanna Miller also owned Windy Hollow Lake, a store, a restaurant, a dirt oval track, and riding stables on the site on Windy Hollow Road. All those businesses got to be a bit too much for the family to run, so in 1973, they leased the drag strip to Dallas Jones. He ran it through the 1987 season. During this time, Jones changed the drag strip name to Owensboro Raceway Park. The track also became affiliated with NHRA and bracket racing replaced class racing. Gary Brantley was killed while racing on the 1/8th-mile strip on August 21, 1976. A track record of 5.23 was set in 1986. Jones bought Beech Bend Park drag strip in 1987 and turned his attention to it, giving up his lease at Windy Hollow. Evelyn "Rooster" Miller, Hal and Deanna Miller's daughter, jumped in to manage the drag strip at Windy Hollow. From 1988 to 1993, Evelyn Miller McCarty ran the drag strip. In 1989, Chuck Baird of Assumption, Illinois, shattered the track record with a 4.542 run at 151.49 MPH. That was the first time anyone had run over 150 MPH on the track.  The next year, Baird upped his record to 4.465 at 156.81, a record that still stands as an ET bracket record. In 1990, the name of the strip was changed to Windy Hollow Raceway Park. From 1994-95, Francis Libs operated the drag strip.  Evelyn McCarty resumed running the drag strip from 1996 to 2004. In 1996, Bill Bartkus in a jet-powered racer was the first to top 200 MPH with a 218 MPH run. Randy and Kim Booker were the new strip promoters in 2005. They were followed by Phillip Oakley, who ran the track from 2006 through 2011. Johnathan Jones ran the track in 2012. After only a single race in 2013 because of the lack of a track operator, the drag strip resumed operation under the helm of Curtis Howard in 2014, but may have closed except for occasional races in 2017 and 2018.
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June 10, 1972
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July 23, 1988
May 15-17, 1988
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Windy Hollow Raceway in 2012, 5 minutes
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Bill "Maverick" Golden piloted his wheelstanding truck down the length of the Windy Hollow Drag Strip in 2002. Photo published in Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, June 29, 2002

Ponderosa Speedway (Junction City)

  • Years of Operation:   2015

Spectator drags were held during intermission at the races at this D-shaped 3/8-mile dirt oval track.
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Richmond Dragway 


Nothing is known about this old drag strip, except that it existed, but is no more. Research is needed to find out the years of its operation and details of its history.  Andrew Thornton pointed out that it ran on the old Port Richmond Airfield, which is adjacent to the Richmond Speedway dirt track. One old racer shared a funny memory of racing at Richmond in 1963:  "I ran there at Richmond when I was 15 with a '56 Chevy wagon and my '55 Studebaker pickup with a 289 Stude engine. You did your burnout going down the track, and then you backed up and got on the starting line. Well I forgot to put it in low.  My foot was shaking kind of bad, if you know what I mean.  I tached her up to about 5000 and the flagman dropped the flag, I dropped the clutch. Look out boys.  Back then people would stand behind you, like 3 feet behind your truck. Well, by the time I got stopped, I had four men in the back of my truck. The other car was long gone, but back then they would help out. So after we got everybody out of my Stud-o-baker pickup, we got someone to run the other car down and talk him into coming back.  I used low gear this time. We had a race. He beat me by one car. I know you boys want to know what kind of car it was. It was a new 63 1/2 Ford Falcon Sprint convertible, 260 V8, 4 speed, Black on Black." Another recalled , " A friend of mine has some old home movies from the Richmond Dragway! Its two one lane strips side by side with grass in the middle. It looked scary!"
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1997 aerial view of Richmond Dragway
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October 16-17, 1965

River Cities Raceway Park (Ashland)


Drew Hester filed incorporation papers for River Cities Raceway Park on April 4, 1986. It was located 2 miles up State Route 5 from U.S. 60, then west on Green Springer Road. Those who helped build and operate this 1/8th-mile strip include Lester Blackburn, Jack Metz, Steve Hester,  and Jack Riggs. C. D. Stiltner was a co-owner at least by the late 1980s. During the course of its history, it was sanctioned by NHRA and IHRA at different times. In 1992, it sported a 200-foot concrete launch pad.  The site of the drag strip is now used for raising emus.
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July 4, 1992
1995 aerial view of River Cities Raceway Park

Riverside Drag Strip ​(Hopkinsville)


This drag strip opened at least as early as 1957, if not before. In September 1957, Circuit Judge Ira Smith instructed the Christian County grand jury to investigate the operation of the Riverside Drag Strip. Judge Smith was of the opinion that the strip had a bad influence on young people in the county. The grand jury did not return indictments or charges against the drag strip. An advertisement that appeared in a Tennessee newspaper in mid-April 1958, stated that races were held "every Sunday except when Sturgis runs." The ad said that there was "no registration, no classification, no trophies, everyone can race, grudge races galore."  It paints a picture of a simple, bare-bones operation. On May 29, 1960, newspapers reported that an airplane landed by mistake on an unlighted drag strip near Hopkinsville. The pilot thought he was landing on Outlaw Field in Clarksville, Tennessee. The  airport today called Hopkinsville Christian County Airport, built in 1952, located two miles east of Hopkinsville, was likely the site of drag races.
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1958

Somerset Drag Strip


Somerset was running a weekly drag racing program at least as early as 1963. Henry "Peanuts" Moore from Stanford, Kentucky, won top eliminator at the race on July 30, 1963. He turned 13.41 at 103.21 MPH. Located a few miles west of Somerset on Route 80, on what is today called Raceway Drive (or Raceway Trailer Park Road), a residential road of a mobile home park. One old timer recalled, "The 'hot cars' would usually turn around and drive back up the track after a run. One night an Anglia came back up the track a bit too fast and skidded right out the gate, across route 80 and came to a stop in front of the building across the road." Another old racer remembered, "They closed Somerset when someone came back up the wrong way and hit one going down the strip. I think one got killed. . . .  at the end of the track you drop over a hill, and that was where the shut down part was. You had to have a hell of a set of brakes to get stopped before you went through the fence." It was 22-year-old Ron Day who was killed when he failed to stop his dragster before going off the end of the track on October 9, 1965.
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The drag strip appears just to the right of the mobile home park in this 1972 ​ aerial photo

Stanford Motorcycle Track

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  • Years of Operation: 1967
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

Drag races were held on a drag strip, in conjunction with a hill climb at a motorcycle track two miles south of Stanford, off U.S. 27 on Skyline Drive bi-weekly from June through October in 1967.
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June 11, 1967

Sturgis Municipal Airport


The Sturgis Kiwanis Club sponsored drag races at the Union County airport.  It had a 5,000-foot concrete runway. The races were timed by A.T.A.A. officials and trophies were awarded to all class winners. The first race was held on Sunday, October 2, 1955. At least three races were held in 1956 on July 1, August 5, and September 2.  The Kiwanis Club held a race at the airport on August 4, 1957. Another documented race was held on June 1, 1958. By 1959 the racing schedule had been solidified to happen on the first Sunday of each month. By that year the track record was 133 MPH set by Bill Roberts of Nashville, Tennessee. The Road Knights car club conducted the races. NHRA-sanctioned drag races were held in 1961 on August 6, August 27, September 17, and October 1 and October 15. Races were held on the first and third Sundays in 1963. Racing was sanctioned by NHRA at Sturgis Dragway in 1973. The airport was built in 1941 by the U. S. Army for pilot training. It is today a public-use airport located two miles east of Sturgis.
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1956
1961

Thorn Hill Dragstrip (Morning View)

  • Years of Operation: 1953-present

Thorn Hill touts itself as the oldest continuously-running drag strip in the nation. Pomona, Bakersfield, and other strips predate it, but they don't operate a regular schedule of continuous races. Redding Dragstrip in California, which has run a regular program of continuous races possibly since 1951, may predate it. The 1/8th mile strip is located at 14114 Kenton Station Road in Morning View (near Kenton). The track opened as Thorn Hill Lake Drag Strip and was run by a local northern Kentucky car club. The club received some tires to raffle off for the drag strip they were trying to get going. The track was originally the Thorn Hill Airfield. It was built during Prohibition by bootleggers who were transporting moonshine by a small airplane. The early drag strip was operated by Ralph Payne. Dick Weinle, a Cincinnati native, started racing there as a teenager in 1954. "It was a dirt track then," he recalled.  Races were conducted in 1955 by the Valve Jumpers Club. In 1956-57, the Motor Exploders car club managed the strip. The surface was graded dirt that was oiled down to eliminate dust. Eventually the starting line area was paved. Sections of the strip were paved over the years until the entire track was paved by 1958. Due to a 1973-court-mandated noise ordinance, they only are permitted to hold races for six hours a week on Saturdays. It is a family-owned and operated business.In 2008, Gerald Meyer purchased the facility, and made improvements to the burn out boxes. 
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1955
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1961
Thorn Hill Drag Strip, ​​ 1963 topo map
CLICK HERE to take a video tour of the Thornhill Strip in 2009, 8 minutes

Tompkinsville Dragway

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James A. Clarke of Campbellsville filed incorporation papers for a Tompkinsville Dragway Corporation on August 1, 1968. Nothing more than that tidbit of information and the existence of a Dragstrip Road in Tompkinsville, leading to an old tarmac drag strip is known. More research or help is needed on this.
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1997 aerial view of site of Tompkinsville Dragway

U.S. 60 Dragway (Hardinsburg)

  • Years of Operation: 1964-present
 
This 1/8th-mile strip is located two miles southeast of Hardinsburg on the south side of U.S. Highway 60 near Harned. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014.   Eddy Kannapel wrote a brief history :  "US 60 Raceway was opened on July 31, 1964 by Hardinsburg resident and future Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame member, Keenan O' Connell. O'Connell stated that he was invited by a friend to attend the drag races at the old Owensboro Dragstrip. As he sat on top of the hill watching the cars and the people pour in to the racetrack, he saw the possibility of a good financial opportunity along with bringing the sport of drag racing to the Breckinridge County area.   At that time O'Connell owned a go kart track that he had purchased from the Ditto family and decided that the location would be a good place for the dragstrip. Although he did not know at the time where the financing for the track come from, plans were made to build US 60 Raceway.  On opening day, O'Connell stood at the gate and looked up and down US Highway 60. As far as he could see in both directions, cars were lined up to enter the racetrack. He knew then that US 60 Raceway was going to be a success.     Farm fencing had been installed to keep race fans from getting to close to the dragstrip. Before the racing had started, fans had pushed the fences down and where lined up right next to the racing surface as cars blasted down the track. Chainlink fencing was installed in short order.    Many of the sport's top drivers of the day appeared at US 60. Some of the more notable were, Pro Stock superstar Bob Glidden, Super Stock ace Herb McCandless, Top Fuel driver Dale Funk, Top Gas star Gordon Collett, Modified and Comp eliminator driver Joe Williamson, Funny stars Randy Walls, Bruce Larsen and Kelly Chadwick, Bill "Maverick" Golden, driver of the famed wheelstander, "The Little Red Wagon" and scores of others.  The first 1/8 mile Nationals were held at US 60 Raceway with cars appearing from 37 states.  O'Connell recalled some of the more memorable events that occurred at US 60 such as the night the lights went out as two dragsters crossed the finish line. The two cars bumped together in the dark but were bought to safe stop by their drivers.  Another time two dead heats occurred between the A Street Roadster driven by Jerry Basham and the A Gas Henry J driven by Doug Greenfield. A third runoff was held with Greenfield taking the win.      Match racing was big at the time and the fans at US 60 Raceway enjoyed some of the best in the country.  Match races between the Golden Angel owned by Ed Payne and driven by Henry Putman and the Roadrunner Henry J   owned and driven by Doug Greenfield were crowd favorites.  O'Connell operated US 60 Raceway from 1964 until 1974 when it was then leased to Dallas Jones who now owns and operates Beech Bend Raceway. The track was leased to several different operators over the years including Noel Davis, Kevin Brown, Harvey Davis, Eddie and Bruce Lampton and J.D. and Judy Snead. The track was sold to the Sneads who continue to operate it to this day.   O'Connell stated that there was a lot of joy and a lot of heartaches to running US 60 but it was a great experience and he still loves racing and drove a race car until he was 73 years old.
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1964
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of U.S. 60 Dragway, early 1970s, 3:52 minutes