The birthplace of drag racing?
It’s never argued as to where the roots of drag racing started. It was at the salt flats of Southern California’s deserts – dry lakes racing. After World War II, young men took to the dry lakes, to get their thrills, which transferred over to the streets and then voila, drag racing. It was a sight. Dad always tells about how you could race essentially year round and there were so many tracks, nobody would go wanting – and never leave Southern California. So it was.
The 50’s and 60’s were the heyday of drag racing especially in California, but even through much of the 70’s, I remember hearing Sunday, Sunday, Sunday for much of the year. Even though interest was still high and weather was always good, tracks like Lions, Orange County & Irwindale all went by the wayside. We had Pomona, but limits established by local cities, would keep racing to a bare minimum at the fair grounds. Urbanization of the Greater L.A. area would strangle any other racing. Heck, the last bastion of regular quarter-mile racing was in the desert (Palmdale), which was no one’s favorite with wind, dust and extreme temperatures – and we’d take it, but it too was eventually consumed by sprawl.
One day, you looked around for a 1/4 mile drag strip and there wasn’t any. It’s as if some director came along and decided to write out a part of history (can you say Oliver Stone?) Yes, there’s Fontana, but most will admit that it’s not a high speed or nitro track – sportsman only. So the birthplace of drag racing has nothing to show for itself. Famoso (in Central California), which is over 2 hours north of L.A., is the closet thing anyone has to a regular 1/4 mile track. OK, some of you might say: Hey what about the new Irwindale? What about it? It’s 1/8 mile, end of story.
I mean, it’s getting a little scary to think if Famoso should ever go, God forbid, there wouldn’t be a drag strip within 6 hours of Los Angeles (in another state!). Geez, we’ll all have to take up reading Kindle’s?! I’m not sure there’s any answer although with a Recession, that doesn’t look like it’s letting up anytime soon, what a great time to push a city into putting up a drag strip in a empty paved parking lot (apologies to Joni). Anyway, I guess we need a great promoter – where are you Mickey Thompson?
Is it football without Green Bay? Or baseball without New York? Or is it stock racing without the South? Considering nearly 1 in 5 people are drag racing fans, there are millions of Southern Californians generally without drag racing. A void needs to be filled. It’s time to get Californians back to our rightful place in history – this needs to be preserved.
Now there’s a guy in North Carolina …