Detroit Dragway, 1959. Photographer unknown

Remembering . . .

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Michigan
Drag Strips

Brohman

  • M-37 Dragway, 1966-71
 
My father raced at M-37 Dragway. I only have this trophy, and sketchy memories of dad's stories. He passed away in 1996, at age 52. His name was Gerald (Jerry) Pickerd. I also think several of my relations raced there as well. I'd love to know more.
Dee Pickerd
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Trophy won at M-37 Dragway by Jerry Pickerd. Courtesy of Dee Pickerd

Detroit

  • Detroit Dragway, 1959
 
I spectated at the '59 NHRA Nationals at Detroit and then in either '69 or '70 ran at an AHRA National event. The '59 one got me seriously hooked.  I think Arfons ran #6 (6 wheels) in '59, unless he was trying 6 wheels on #11 prior to the Nationals in Detroit. I do remember he left rubber for the full 1/4.
Tom Pfeifer
  • Detroit Dragway, 1957-59
 
 I was a member of the Millwinders Racing Team and our president was Neil Pappy Ellis.  In 1958 Don Garlits raced at Detroit Dragway on a Friday night, setting a record.  I owned a photography studio and took the pictures on Friday night and put an album together on Saturday for Don’s Sunday appearance at Motor City Dragway.
Richard Gargano
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Don Garlits (in center) at Motor City Dragway in 1958. The Millwinders Racing Team presents an album to him recoginizing his record-setting run at Detroit Dragway just two days earlier. Richard Gargano, just to the immediate left of Don, assembled that album to present to Garlits. Courtesy of Richard Gargano
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Seven members of the Millwinders Racing Team take trophies at the Michigan Hot Rod Association banquet in 1959. Courtesy of Richard Gargano
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Millwinders Racing Team logo. Courtesy of Richard Gargano
  • Detroit Dragway, 1960s
 
I grew up in the Detroit area. I raced at Detroit Dragway, Milan Dragway and--are you ready for this? WINDSOR DRAGWAY! Yes there was a track just outside of Windsor, Canada off of the 401. I believe it opened in '67 or '68 and lasted only a few years. I have time slips, but no pictures. Thank you so much for the great work in bringing back all these memories. I have one Polaroid of me in the "hot pits" at Detroit Dragway in 1969. I am the first and only owner of the '67 Camaro which I named WHINE-MAKER.
My son and I restored the car to it's original "race-day" condition. I do not race it now. I drive it to car shows which it has won numerous trophies/plaques for originality.
Tino Franciosi
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Tino in the pits at Detroit Dragway with his '67 Camaro in 1969. Courtesy of Tino Franciosi
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Tino with his '67 Camaro, ca. 1969. Courtesy of Tino Franciosi
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Tino with his restored '67 Camaro in 2011. Courtesy of Tino Franciosi
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Tino's restored '67 Camaro in 2010, after the lettering was finished. Courtesy of Tino Franciosi
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Tino driving his restored '67 Camaro on the street

Grattan

  • Grattan International Speedway, 1975-78
 
The years were 1975-1977-78. I was running a mildly-built '66 Chevelle 327, 4-speed.  The car was running the high side of 13s.  Then on one run, hitting third gear, the clutch paid me a very NASTY visit through the floor. I had very minor injuries, but it was very loud. I wish someone had a picture of that. I will say that a few of the "gang " went there and had a great time.
Dave Eager

Milan

  • Milan Dragway, 1967-68
 
I raced at Milan, Michigan, as a regular in '67 and '68 and held the track record for my class in '67. The certificate was signed by Cliffton Riley, track manager or owner. One day I was testing there in preparation to make the switch from NHRA to AHRA. Sam Stockwell (record holder in one class lower) was a friendly competitor. I was running about .10 slower than the record in my NHRA class, but AHRA allowed different stuff and I was testing that. Because I all of a sudden ran about .20 under, he wondered what I did. Being coy, I said I was doing timing changes, just to mess with him. He died of a heart attack a couple days later. I was sad, as he was a friend and especially sad that he never knew the truth.
Tom Pfeifer
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Track record certificate, Milan Dragway, 1967. Courtesy of Tom Pfeifer
  • Milan Dragway
 
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Richard Hutchins lifts the wheels in his Chevy-powered Dodge truck wheelstander at Milan Dragway. Courtesy of Jim Wyckoff

New Baltimore

  • Motor City Dragway, 1957-59
 
I was a member of the Millwinders Racing Team and raced at Motor City Dragway in New Baltimore, Michigan, in 1957, '58 and '59. I ran a '56 Chevy in C-Gas and a 1959 Corvette.
Richard Gargano
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Richard Gargano with his 1959 Corvette at Motor City Dragway.. Courtesy of Richard Gargano
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Richard Gargano racing his 1959 Corvette at Motor City Dragway.. He garnered his first trophy with this car in this race. Courtesy of Richard Gargano
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Richard Gargano holding the trophy he won for the first time with his 1959 Corvette at Motor City Dragway.. Courtesy of Richard Gargano

Saginaw

  • Tri-City Dragway, 1966-68
 
As a native of Saginaw, Michigan, boy, my first racing experiences came at Tri-City Dragway. I remember when it opened. It was a fantastic strip. I saw cars like the "Hawaiian," "Chi-Town Hustler," "Little Red Wagon," etc . In the summer of 1967 or 1968, I raced my 1966 Chevelle convertilbe 327 c.i. 275 h.p. 4-speed Muncie in the "Pure Stock" division. I won one of my races there. I still have that trophy, too. It was a great track. Too bad it isn't still operating. I really enjoyed reading all the info and history you have on it. One question though, I recently saw the Ramchargers and the "Color-Me-Gone" funny cars on exhibition tour at the former U.S. Air Force Air Base here in Oscoda, Michigan, where Connie Kalitta has his aircraft maintenance operation. The owner of one of the cars told me that Tri-City Dragway had reopened back in, I believe he said, the 1980's, but closed back down after the driver of a fuel car had been killed. Do you know anything about whether or not that's true?  [DSL editor's note: I researched in several newspaper databases, but found nothing about Tri-City Dragway re-opening after it closed in 1978. In my website, Drag Strip Deaths , there have been two fatalities at Tri-City Dragway. One of them was Richard Place, the driver of a fuel dragster.  He died in a bad crash at Tri-City in 1974. Richard's father sued Logghe Chassis after his son's death, but the track continued to operate for four more years.]
R. Matt O'Dell
  • Tri-City Dragway
 
I raced a couple of times at Tri-City Dragway, worked the pit crew, and visited often as a spectator. I have great memories of my dad racing at different tracks, too. Would love to see some memorabilia of this track.
Michael Stephens

Ubly

  • Ubly Dragway, ca. 1974-75
 
I bracket-raced my 1971 Mustang 429 CJ Ram Air at Ubly Dragway the summer of 1974 or 1975, I don't remember which. I won my bracket (I still have the trophy) and went on to final eliminations. I was in the lead against a 1966 or 1967 GTO when, at about 70 miles per hour, as the transmission went for 3rd gear, the engine suddenly went silent and I found myself coasting down the remainder of the track as the GTO flew by me. Once off the track and stopped on the return lane, I turned the key to try starting it, but no dice. It was as if it had seized. My heart sank because I thought maybe I had blown that wonderful hi-performance engine. However, upon sitting and cooling down for about an hour, I tried the key again and this time it turned and fired right up. It's been fine ever since, but the experience scared me enough that I decided to never race the car again. I was told by some folks there that what happened had been caused by vapor lock. It was an extremely hot and humid day. I had sat on the asphalt in the staging lane with the engine running and the fuel in the tank getting heated up for an extended period of time before coming to the line. I don't know if that was definitely the cause, but it did make me think about potentially eventually harming the engine. I still have the car. It has 49K original miles on it, a totally original un-restored survivor that I now take out a couple of times a summer to local car shows. Although I enjoyed running it at Ubly, I'm glad I stopped in favor of not continuing to put hard time on the car for nothing but a few more trophies.  I also ran my 1962 Ford Galaxy 500 at Ubly a time or two about those same summers, but didn't win any hardware.
R. Matt O'Dell