Last Drag Races
by Stormy Byrd
Carlsbad Raceway Nov. 64 – Aug 04
Carlsbad was a purpose built strip . The track was a bit short and rough but it had much history. Which included a world Championship Grand Prix motocross track, Speedway track and hosted SCCA events besides being the first strip in the nation to have an “Official” 6 second pass down it’s 1320 by the late John “Zookeeper” Mulligan in 66 with a 6.95 in the Adams & Warye Top Fuel car, all the while carding a terminal speed of 221.12 while racing Tommy Allen, then backed it up with a 7.17. Everyone raced there from Garlits to Force.
I raced there from the mid 80’s on at the Antique Drags run by Russ Eyres for many years and won a few events. I also got my 1st concussion there….
Many great Funny Car & Fuel Altered races were put on at Carlsbad during the 80’s by promoter Steve Quencio with an over-packed house of fans and cars. The Grismer’s who were there at the start tried to keep the track running in the end month to month, but in the end a business park was built on top of the Drag Strip with 700,000+ cubic yards of dirt that literally buried the place, yes the track , guardrail etc is still there under 30’ of dirt !
Saugus Drag Strip 1950 - 1957
Saugus was in the Santa Clarita area and run by Louie Senter of Ansen fame & Lou Baney of Baney Ford Car Dealership & Top Fuel fame.
The strip from what I’ve gathered was the first to use lights for night racing.
A lot of the early pioneers got their start at Saugus. I’m proud t say I have a beautiful original winner trophy from Saugus in my collection.
Admission was kept at under a buck so they wouldn’t have to pay taxes on it.
Inyokern Drag Strip 1954-2009
This was a NHRA premier track at one time running both National and Divisional events. Held on the Inyokern Airstrip it was at one time the oldest track in the country.
It was run by the “Dust Devils” who until some knob at the FAA said they couldn’t run there anymore because of National Security issues, ran races there on a regular basis with SCEDA (Southern California Econo Dragster Association) and never had a problem.
Turns out the idiot at the FAA could have given the Dust Devils a “Waiver” to keep running, however the guardrail was scraped out & Timing equipment was sold. To re-open the track would have been over 100K!
Ontario Motor Speedway 1970 - 1980
This was a magnificent track.
However it was doomed from the beginning at a cost of 30 million in 1969 dollars
It hosted the California 500 races which included NASCAR, INDY, Formula One and the infamous “California Jam” concerts. Besides being the home of the NHRA Super Nationals / World Finals. The drag strip shut down area basically went into turn one and gave drivers two miles of shut down. This is also where Garlits set the national record at 5.63 @ 250.69 the ET record stood for years. I also saw some great outlaw races there with AA/Fuel Altered meets at night capped off with Jet Dragster passes like Doug Roses "Green Mamba". The track sat on 800 acres !
Fremont Drag Strip 1959 - 2008
This was Northern California ’s version of Lions and had a great rich history. Fremont had great air and traction and was home to the likes of Jungle Jim & Lew Arrington in the early days, Rich Guasco’s Pure Hell , Masters & Richter . I raced there in the mid-late 80’s at the Nostalgia National put on by Tom Prufer . Got to race Stone-Woods& Cook…I still have the win slip today !
"More American Graffiti" was also filmed there !
The Nostalgia movement became huge there and brought back a lot of front engine machinery like Jim Davis and the Mooneyham 554 coupe with former fuel racer Gerry Steiner in the seat. The return of AA/GS I believe can be said returned there also. M y buddy Brendan Murry who competed in everything from Top Fuel on also helped create what is now one of the most popular classes in Nostalgia racing, Nostalgia Eliminator 1 ( 7.60 index class for any center steer car). The land still sits unused till this day.
This was a service road accessing the Goleta Airport that had been use for covert racing at night. This could be the first organized “Strip” where a group of guys got together with some portable fencing and duked it out.
The Motor Monarchs club of Ventura and Santa Barbara racer Bob Joehnck were behind this venture when they approached the airport management about using the service road. The group called themselves the Santa Barbara Acceleration Association.
Specifically it was historical race between Fran Hernandez & Tom Cobbs. Cobbs 29 A with the blown flatty took on Fernandez 3 Stromberg Flathead. The difference was Fernandez was running a fuel called “Nitromethane" won & put Goleta on the map.
Continued on next page here...