NEBRASKA

Norfolk "Drag Strip" (1954)
Scribner Air Base/Nebraska Motorplex (1954)
Omaha Dragway (Irvington) (1955)
Auburn "Drag Strip" (1956)
Falls City "Drag Strip" (1956)
Lincoln "Drag Strip" (1956)
Grand Island Airport (1957)
Lincoln Air Force Base (1957)
Lincoln Municipal Airport (1958)
Minden "Drag Strip" (1958)
Scottsbluff Drag Strip (1959)
​Brainard "Drag Strip" (1963)
Kearney Dragway/Raceway Park (1963)
Sandhill Dragway (Ainsworth) (1967)
Lincoln Drag Strip (1968)
Cornhusker Raceway Park (1969)
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Cornhusker Raceway, near Millard, Nebraska. Photographer unknown, Omaha Sun Collection, Durham Museum

Auburn "Drag Strip"


On September 30, 1956, about fifty cars participated in the Nebraska dirt track drag championships at Auburn. Conducted by the Auburn Timing Association, it was held at a location three miles east and one mile south of Auburn. It took place on a dirt air strip that is today called Farington Field. More research is needed.
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Brainard "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1963-68
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

The Short Block Sweepstakes drag races were begun in 1963 as a part of the Old Home Town Festival. Although there was regular drag racing action (at least in 1964), a fun part of the races were the tractor competions. One of the more unique categories was the pre-1923 model tractor event. Frank Stoupa won that event in 1963 in his Hart Parr rig. In 1964, they raced the tractors over a "measured short block," that is, a Brainard street. But they had them race on a dirt street in 1964 because the previous year they raced on a paved street and that "about shook the drivers off their tractors." In 1965, Frank Rech took the win in the antique tractor division, clocking one minute 50 seconds over the measured city block in his 1919 Rumley Oil Pull tractor. That race was run over the "measured block" course next to the railroad tracks. In 1968, Gib Horacek took the win in Class A (where modifications were permitted) in his 1923 C-Case. He covered the 250-distance in 16 seconds.
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Mike Lyons (left) and Gib Horacek (right) get ready on the starting line in their Fordson tractors. Lyons won the top speed of the day with a speed of around 18 MPH. Photo published in Lincoln Journal Star, Sep. 6, 1965
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Frank Stoupa (left) with his Hart Parr tractor and Gib Horacek (right) sits on his old Case tractor. Photo published in ​​Lincoln Star, Sep. 5, 1964

Cornhusker Raceway Park


Located five miles south of Omaha, this track was one mile north of Interstate 80 on Highway 50.  Specifically, it was at the northeast intersection of South 145th Street and West Giles Road, two miles southwest of Millard. John P. Kelly of Papillion filed incorporation papers for it in November 1968. News reports said that the strip was built for $300,000. The track sported an 800-foot fireup lane, eliminating the need for push starts on the race track. It also had an octagonal timing control tower. Its first race may have been on July 26-27 in 1969. Co-owner Don Kroeger managed the track in 1969. He had pioneered drag racing in the 1960s at Flightland Airfield. A two-day NHRA regional race was held on September 7-8, 1969. John Wiebe was the top qualifer in top fuel with a 6.83 run. In 1971, the track had seventeen race dates. The track hosted an NHRA divisional meet on September 18-19, 1971. The raceway received honors as the 1971 drag strip of the year in NHRA's Division 5. In 1972, the track suspended its Sunday race program in late June because drivers refused to race for the purse money established for the 1972 season. They demanded that the purse money be quadrupled. James Patton was the track manager in 1972. The track hosted an NHRA divisional points meet on May 26-27, 1973. At that race, they also had a feature match race between Sox & Martin and Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins. That race was rained out and postponed to July 7-8. That may have been the final race, but research turned up nothing about that race. What began with great promise, petered out due to dissension and unprofitability. On Friday, September 14, 1973, everything at the track was auctioned. This included bleachers, tractors, mowers, amplifiers, scale, chain link fencing, coffee urns, gas ranges, air conditioner--the whole works. One old racer remembered,  "This was a great drag strip. It was down in a natural valley that made a resonating sound as the cars pounded the strip. Unfortunate for all, the city grew around it and ended its run. A lot of super area racers ran there: Kidder Automotive, Holcomb/Howdy Williams, Bill Woods, Speedway Motors, Raceland Speedshop, and many more locals. It drew big rails out of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and on and on." Another man learned about the track from his father who used to race there:  "It was just north of the interstate the next valley over from the Millard airport. There is a concrete company and some other stuff there now. From what I was told, the racers demanded better payout, threatened a boycott and the owner closed the track and made it an industrial park."
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September 20-21, 1969
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June 13, 1971
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May 26-27, 1973, rained out and rescheduled for July 7-8, 1973
CLICK HERE to see video still photos of Cornhusker Raceway, 2:04 minutes
CLICK HERE to see video photograph show of Cornhusker Raceway, 6:57 minutes
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Cornhusker Raceway, ​ 1969 aerial view
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Cornhusker Raceway, ​ 1970 USGS topo map

Falls City "Drag Strip"


On July 10, 1955, the Nemaha Valley Timing Association (NVTA) tried holding a drag race on an unused road in the vicinity of Salem. Sheriff's officers stopped the drag race. The NVTA hadn't obtained prior permission. Although the road led nowhere and wasn't used by the public, it was still maintained by the State Highway Department. Lesson learned, the NVTA got permission to hold races in 1956. The drag strip was four miles south of Verdon, north of the Salem depot, and about five miles northwest of Falls City.  It was located on a 150-acre farm.  The Nemaha Valley Timing Association held a regional drag championship there on October 7, 1956 and a midwest regional drag race on November 11, 1956. The 1957 drag racing season opened on April 28.  When Marion Boatman, a manufacturer, learned that the farm on which the drag strip was located was going to be sold in 1957 to a man who objected to the strip, he bought the farm to keep the strip running.
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Grand Island Airport


The Grand Island Jaycees Timing Association conducted drag races at the airport. They held the first race on April 28, 1957, sanctioned by NHRA. They held their first Midwest regional meet there on June 22-23, 1957. 5,000 spectators watched the Sunday finals. The event attracted racers from eight states. George Dahir turned in the top speed of 120.80 in his B dragster. Darrell Zimmerman, from Julesburg, Colorado, won A Stock with a speed of 91.07 MPH. At the 2-day regional meet on June 14-15, 1958, Amarillo's Jack Moss took top eliminator and set the track record with a run of 149.50 MPH in his 2-engined dragster. The old track record was 130 MPH. Races were held in 1959 on April 19, May 17, June 13, July 12, and August 2. The Grand Island Jaycees sponsored the event for the second year. In 1961, the track ran once a month on the third Sunday from April through September, except for a two-day event in June. At the NHRA Midwest Regional 2-day races held in June 1961, Don and Jack Moss  from Omaha took top eliminator honors with 143.31 MPH clocking. The track was being called the Grand Island Jaycee Dragstrip. On August 4, 1963, 3,500 people saw 175 cars compete at the Midwest Regional Drag Races. Warren Meeks of Taylor won top eliminator honors in his B dragster. At a race on May 23, 1965, the Ross & Keller Dodge took the S/SA class with a top speed of 113.54 MPH. The Grand Island Army Airfield was built in 1942 on top of a pre-existing municipal airfield. After the war it was deeded to the city of Grand Island. Today it operates as Central Nebraska Regional Airport.
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June 20, 1965

Kearney Dragway/Raceway Park

  • Years of Operation: 1963-present
 
Carroll Sheldon started holding drag races on a runway at the old Kearney Army Air Field in 1964, but a later news article stated that 1976 was the 13th season of drag racing in Kearney. Given that the first season would have been in 1963. Sheldon was the strip manager in 1976. On the final event of the 1965 season on on September 12, Jerry Wilson of Denver set a new track record of 8.04 seconds at 200 MPH in his AA/FD. On June 12, 1966, Kurt Behlen from Columbus won the top eliminator trophy in his B/FX '66 Chevy II. Kearney Dragway was listed as being under NHRA sanction in the April 1968 issue of Hot Rod. In 1995, it started being called Kearney Raceway Park.
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March 20, 1977
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Kearney Dragway, 1970, 12:19 minutes

Lincoln Air Force Base

 
In January 1957, an Air Base Auto Club was organized and discusssions begun about having drag races on a base taxiway. The third race was held on April 21, 1957, attracting three thousand spectators. Major Dean Kirby took Top Eliminator in his 1957 Pontiac, in 15.6 seconds. The Lincoln Timing Association was organized in March 1958. Between then and early October 1958, they conducted six drag racing events on the Air Force Base landing strip and one on the National Guard runway. The races were conducted under a cooperative arrangement between the base, the Nebraska Air National Guard, and the Lincoln Timing Association. Races were sanctioned by NHRA. They charged a moderate admission fee and drew between 50-100 entries at each event. On October 26, 1958, Cliff Miles from Dunlap, Iowa, won the Super Stock class in his 1958 Chevy with 90.90 MPH. Major Dean Kirby ran 121 MPH in his A dragster. A thousand spectators attended that race.  On November 2, Miles ran 102.58 MPH.  On November 16, 1958, Howdy Williams took Top Eliminator in his B dragster, running 132.35 MPH.  In 1959 the Shaundos car club obtained NHRA sanction for the strip and with the help of the Rodders car club, conducted the races. They used a 3,800 foot long Air National Guard taxiway for the racing. They had purchased new timing equipment, a fuel analyzer, and installed new fencing. It was known as the Shaundos Drag Strip. Three thousand spectators watched 180 racers compete on August 30, 1959. Jack Moss posted a clocking of 9.9 seconds at 135 MPH in his dragster. 5,300 people attended the NHRA bonus points race on July 31, 1960. Howdy Williams set the top speed mark with a 153.35 MPH run. On May 9, 1965, Howdy Williams clocked an unofficial (and questionable) 7.7 second run to garner top fuel eliminator honors in his Speed Engineering AA fuel dragster. Two weeks later, he set the track record with a run of 8.2 seconds at 188.9 MPH. The base closed in 1966, and the airfield reverted to a civil airport shared with the Nebraska Air National Guard.
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Starter Darryl Smith of the Shaundos car club jumps high to start a race held on June 7, 1964 at the Lincoln Air Force Base. Photo published in ​​​​Lincoln Star, June 8, 1964
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Starter Pete Marburg begins a race at the Lincoln Air Force Base. Photo published in ​​Lincoln Journal Star, Aug. 31, 1959

Lincoln "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1956
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

The Eccentrics car club sponsored drag races eighteen miles west of Lincoln on O Street. One race was held on October 21, 1956. More research is needed.
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October 21, 1956

Lincoln Drag Strip

  • Years of Operation: 1968
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
It is listed in a  list of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip . More research is needed.
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Lincoln Municipal Airport

 
On October 26, 1958, about 75 racers competed at the airport before almost 1,000 spectators. Cliff Miles, of Dunlap, Iowa, won the Super Stock class in his '58 Chevy. Major Dean Kirby, whose A dragster was built by Don Garlits, had the fastest speed of the day at 121 MPH. On July 19, 1959, a Sunday drag race was held at the airport. More research is needed.
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November 16, 1958
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Flagman Darwin Kirchhoff enthusiastically starts a couple of racers at Lincoln Municipal Airport on October 26, 1958. Photo published in ​​Lincoln Star, Oct. 27, 1958

Minden "Drag Strip"

 
On November 25, 1958, a host of dignitaries dedicated the new Highway 10, connecting the towns of Minden and Franklin.  Drag races sponsored by the Franklin Jaycees were held in conjunction with the dedication ceremonies. Newspaper articles were not specific about where the drag races were held, but likely they were held on the new highway before it was open for traffic.
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Norfolk "Drag Strip"

  • Years of Operation: 1954
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

A car club in Norfolk conducted a drag race there on August 29, 1954. It was sanctioned by the Missouri Valley Timing Association. It may have been held at the airport, four miles southwest of Norfolk, but more research is needed.
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Omaha Dragway (Irvington)

Drag races were being held at a mile-long concrete surfaced airport runway in or near Omaha in 1955 (or before). Racers remember it as being an old airstrip. One old racer recalled that the airport's name was Flightland before being called Omaha Dragway:  "I used to race at Omaha Dragway (the Flightland air field -- it's still in use as an airfield) in the mid to late 60's when it was closed (to racing)." Research has uncovered little about the racing in 1960-61 other than that the Kingsmen Club from Columbus helped conduct the races and that trophies were awarded to class winners. They generally ran two to three times a month, April through October. A drag race was held on Sunday, August 27, 1961, in Irvington. Although racers associated the racing as being in Irvington, news ads and articles gave the location of the strip as being ten miles northwest of Irvington on Highway 133. The airfield that fits that description is Blair Municipal Airport, which was activated in 1961. That airport is about 5-6 miles north of Irvington, but with little except rural countryside fifty years ago in that area, the association with Irvington is understandable. The beginnings of that airport and its use as a drag strip owe much to Gene Kidder.  He was an NHRA adviser in Division 5 in the 1950s. According to an article in the Bowling Green Daily News (Oct. 9, 2006), he was "instrumental in getting racers off the streets and onto a track at the old Flightland Airstrip in Omaha," At the time he was working at Omaha National Bank. Kidder recalled how he got to be a regional adviser with NHRA. "They named me adviser because I was forming clubs to get young people organized so they weren't outlaws on the streets,” he said. The newspaper article continued about Kidder's role in establishing what became Omaha Dragway:  "But he wasn't just about forming clubs.
Kidder wanted a drag strip in Omaha. So when he found out that a man who wanted to build an airstrip needed a bank loan, he used his banking connections to talk the man into letting people pay to race on the strip, which would help the racers by providing them a place to run while helping the man pay off his loan. The man agreed and eventually sponsored Kidder in racing in return for Kidder managing the man's drag strip, which became the Omaha Dragway and attracted some of drag racing's biggest stars." Some of those racing stars included Tom Hoover and Chris Karamesines. Although there is little documentation linking the drag racing in the mid-1950s to the racing in the 1960s, racer's memories of it being an old airstrip to begin with make it plausible. But there is a lot of speculation here, so if anyone knows different, get in touch. At a big NHRA meet on July 29, 1962, over 3,000 people saw Jim Nelson drive his Dragmaster AA dragster to a clocking of 9.35 at 170.09 MPH to win his class.  On September 30, 1962, Tommy Ivo made exhibition runs in his 4-engine dragster. Don Kroeger was the track manager in circa 1965-68. At the final race in 1967 on September 24, Gene Kidder faced Dick Landy in a best-of-five match race. Kroeger resigned as track manager in early 1968 and was replaced by Jim Davis. An NHRA regional meet was held on July 27-28, 1968. The track record prior to that meet was 210 MPH, but with John Wiebe in the field, that record was in jeopardy. One of the last races, if not in fact, the final race was held on July 20, 1969. It was billed as a junior fueler and street eliminator championship event.
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July 29, 1962
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April 3, 1966
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June 19, 1966
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Jim Nelson drove his Dragmaster Dart to top eliminator at Omaha Dragway on July 29, 1962. Photo published in Lincoln Journal Star, July 30, 1962

Sandhill Dragway ​(Ainsworth)

 
At a race held on May 30, 1965, seven drivers from Lincoln were class or eliminator winners. Rich Lilja took Little Eliminator in his '57 Chevy and Bruce Weeks took Stock Eliminator in his '65 Pontiac. This strip was listed in the 1967 NHRA Dragstrip Guide and in a  list of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip . Harlan Jones was the track manager in 1968. Races may have been held at Ainsworth Municipal Airport, located seven miles northwest of Ainsworth, but more research is needed.
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Scottsbluff  Drag Strip

 
Drag races were conducted in 1959 by the Nile Valley Timing Association on April 19, May 30-31, and August 9.  Races were held in May, July, and September in 1960. At the race on May 30, 1960, a spectator was hit in the head by a fragment of an exploding clutch. He filed a lawsuit for $500,000 in damages against NHRA. In 1961, NHRA-sanctioned drag races were held on September 3 and  September 23-24. In April 1961, Walter B. Willard and Larry R. Taylor of Scottsbluff had filed articles of incorporation for the Scottsbluff Timing Association to engage in drag racing. The track record as of 1966 was 181 MPH. It was listed in a  list of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip .  Scottsbluff Dragway was listed as being under NHRA sanction in the April 1968 issue of Hot Rod.  Ron Weinmeister was the track manager then. More research is needed to determine the range of years drag racing was held in Scottsbluff. The racing took place at the Scottsbulff Municipal Airport east of the town.
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Scribner Air Base/Scribner Raceway/Nebraska Motorplex


On May 9, 1954, the Missouri Valley Timing Association (MVTA) held its first drag race on a 6,900-foot long runway at Scribner Air Base. It held its second race on May 31, and races thereafter were held monthly through the season. Lee Snyder was clocked at 14.02 seconds in his alcohol-fueled roadster. The races attracted cars from Iowa and Nebraska. New timing equipment was installed for the race held on June 20, 1954. The base hosted an NHRA regional championship drag race on July 11, 1954. The air base was built in 1942 as a U. S. Army Air Force training field. The state of Nebraska acquired the surplus airfield from the United States in 1946.  On October 17, 1954, the MVTA held what it called its "seven-state championship" drag race.  Lee Snyder posted the top speed of the season in his dragster of 128 miles per hour.  In March 1980, Ralph Howard and some friends bought an old runway at Scribner in the hope of re-opening it for drag racing. A group of Omahans reformed the old MVTA to help conduct the races. By the end of April 1980, Scribner Raceway was holding races three times a month. Between 1987 and 1989 it changed its name to Nebraska Motorplex. It was sanctioned by IHRA during those years.
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May 9, 1954
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Juy 11, 1954
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1980
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Lee Snyder of Omaha gets the starting signal from the flagman, standing on the flat bed of a truck at Scribner Air Force Base in 1954. Snyder ran the quarter in the low 14s at close to 120 MPH in his alcohol-fueled roadster. Photo published in Lincoln Journal Star, June 19, 1954
CLICK HERE to see video footage of IHRA Mid America Nationals at Scribner in 1994, 40:18 minutes
August 10-12, 1990