MISSOURI

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Smartt Field ​​(Portage des Sioux) (1951)
Savannah American Legion Fair (1952)
St. Charles "Drag Strip" (1953)
​Fairfax Municipal Airport (Kansas City) (1955)
Kansas City Timing Association Drag Strip (1955)
Oakland Stadium (St. Louis) (1956)
​Steele Airport (1956)
Whiteman Air Force Base (1958)
Tri-State Dragway (Kahoka) (1960)
Malden Air Base/SEMO Drag Strip (1961)
​Union "Drag Strip" (1961)
Mo-Kan Dragway (Asbury) (1962)
​Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base (Grandview) (1962)
Springfield-Ozark Dragway (1962)
Pacific Drag Strip/Raceway Park (1963)
Mid-America Raceway (Wentzville) (1963)
NEMO Dragway (Knox City) (1964)
R.A.D. Drag Strip (Marceline) (1964)
Four-State Dragway (Monett) (1965)
Bethany Dragway/Thunder Valley Raceway (1966)
St. Genevieve Drag Strip (Zell) (1966)
Kansas City International Raceway (1967)
Interstate Dragways/Sikeston Raceway/Jeffers Motorsports Park(1969)
Mo-Ark Drag Strip (West Plains) (1969)
Salem Dragway (1969)
Sullivan Drag Strip/God's Thunder Valley Raceway (1960s)
I-55 Dragway (Pevely) (1970)
Cedar Bay Hollow "Drag Strip" (Leeper) (1971)
Knob Noster Raceway (1975)
Springfield International Raceway/Ozark Raceway Park (Rogersville) (1977)
Benton Raceway Park (1981)
U. S. 36 Raceway (Osborn) (1990)
Sikeston Drag Strip/Jeffers Motorsports Park (1997?)
Bonne Terre Drag Strip (2014)

Mo-Kan Dragway timing tower, in Asbury, Missouri. Photographer unknown

Benton Raceway Park

 
Located adjacent to the racing complex's 3/8 mile dirt oval, this 1/8th-mile track is about 3 miles southeast of Benton, just off I-55. Both the oval and the concrete-surfaced strip have been closed since 2013, being listed for sale, but so far no takers.
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Benton Raceway Park, 2003, 4:40 minutes

Bethany Dragway/Thunder Valley Raceway

  • Years of Operation: 1966-68, 1980-present
 
Dale Ruff, Jim McDaniel, and Carl Van Meter, all from Bethany, formed the Midway Timing Corporation to build and operate the strip. Jimmie McDaniel filed incorporation papers for Midway Timing, Inc. on April 29, 1963.  It was located 2.5 miles east of Bethany on U. S. 136. A 125-acre farm was used for parking. This 1/8th-mile track opened for racing on May 14, 1966. Spectator viewing was provided on a hillside, where people could sit in the cars to watch. The track was lit with florescent lights for night riacing. Although not sanctioned by AHRA when it opened, it operated by their rules. Trophies were awarded to class winners in forty classes.  The track was 40 feet wide and  2,000 feet long, with only 1,320 feet paved.  Safety barriers were railroad ties sunk in the ground connected by steel cables, lining the strip in a 100-foot width. Races were scheduled to run each Saturday night from May through September. On July 30, 1966, 84 entries competed. Competitors came from Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri.  Research found racing continued at least through 1968, and possibly thereafter.  But the next documentation research uncovered was races at that location in 1980. The track was then called Thunder Valley Raceway. It has retained the Thunder Valley name to the present, running at 1/8th-mile.
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1966
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1980
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Thunder Valley Raceway, 2008, 1:19 minutes

Cedar Bay Hollow "Drag Strip" ​​​​(Leeper)

 
Although some newspapers reported this drag strip was east of Garwood, it was really just north of Leeper in Cedar Bay Hollow. It reportedly opened for racing on May 30, 1971. A drag strip opened in May 1972 in Cedar Bay Hollow, east of Garwood off Highway 34. On Sunday afternoon, August 6, 1972, Doyle Crosby of Garwood took second place in the racing with his Chevy II. Three weeks later he took top eliminator honors in the hot rod class. More research is needed. This strip may not have ever been more than a graded dirt strip.
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Only a faint remnant of the old drag strip and its return road can be seen on this 1995 aerial photo

Fairfax Municipal Airport ​​​(Kansas City)

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Shriners and the Ford dealers association sponsored sports car races on Labor Day at the old airport. On September 5, 1955, the police supervised a drag race conducted by the Kansas City Timing Association on one of the runways during the sports car competition. A GM assembly plant was built on the old runways in 1985.
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September 5, 1955

Four-State Dragway ​(Monett)

 
The first race was held at this quarter-mile airport drag strip, located south of Pierce City, on August 1, 1965. It was located five miles west of Monett at the Monett Municipal Airport at the intersection of Highways 60 and 97. The strip ran slightly uphill. The resurfaced runway enabled Fred Swanda of Tulsa to clock 8.11 at 165 MPH in his "Spoiler" A/FD. On Sunday, August 22, John Brooks' B gas dragster took out the timing lights on the day's first run. Races had to be run without the benefit of timing. Curt Norman of Springfield took top stock honors. It appears that racing at that time was an every-Sunday affair. On September 12, the Morris-McClintock AA/GD out of Tulsa set a new track record with an ET of 8.50 and 183.50 MPH. That speed was only slightly less than the fuel dragster record for the track.  Bob Sullivan's "Pandemonium IV," driven by Don Cain, set a new strip record of 186.32 MPH in 8.09 seconds on September 19. On September 26, Ira McMacklin of Sedalia took top stock eliminator with a run of 101.46 MPH and 13.92 ET. On October 17, Gary Knost of Carthage took top eliminator in his A gas dragster with a run of 10.40 seconds at 164.20 MPH. Terry Ivey of Joplin set a track record in the sportsman class with a run of 119.68 MPH in 11.89 seconds in his hemi-Dodge. The opening season featured some big-name talent, managed by Bill Coatney. Coatney and his wife leased and operated the track in 1967. They decided to pull back on the big-name talent in order to be a bit more conservative. They operated under AHRA rules for money prizes and NASCAR rules for trophy prizes, both concurrently at each weekly race. On August 27, 1967, Bob Adams of Wichita took competition eliminator with a 9.95 ET at 125.27 MPH. On August 11, 1968, the track booked Hollie's "Back Up Pickup" wheelstander. They held a drawing with the winner getting to ride in the truck on its final exhibition run. Jimmie Collier was the track official in 1972, the last year that information could be found about the track. Larrie, Jimmie, and J. C. Collier put Friend Airport up for sale at auction in late April 1972.
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1971
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1972
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I-55 Dragway (Pevely)

 
John Shain, who worked for track owner Elmer Sago, dated the opening of this 1/8th-mile strip to late summer 1970. In December 1972, a small airplane crashed after mistakenly trying to land on the strip, the pilot thinking it was Festus airport. He clipped a wire attached to the electronic timing equipment. Newspaper reports referred to the strip as the L-K Ranch racing track. The strip was built on a horse ranch, named for the owner's daughter, Lisa K. Sago. Flooding was a persistent problem and, in fact, finally was the reason that the track closed. The track had been operating for a couple of years, but a flood in the early 1970s caused a lot of damage. One old timer recalled, "In the 70's an elderly lady was leasing the drag strip to a fellow . . . There came a flood and he was paid for the damage done to the strip, tower, out buildings, etc. He repaired what need to be repaired to continue racing and used the left over money to build the dirt track. Some of the old timers will probably remember seeing the track from the Interstate as it progressed, only to find progress stopped. At that time flood insurance was, and may still be, backed, provided by, guaranteed by . . . the Federal Goverernment. They paid off on these insurance policies. Somehow they found out all the money had not been spent on what it was paid out for and wanted the funds returned or the insured property repaired. He figured that rather than repay the money he would fix what the funds were paid to fix. At that point the dirt track layed dormant for a time until he had the money to go forward and finish up. Floods have played a LARGE part in the history of I55 Raceway." The dirt circle track, adjacent to the drag strip, opened in 1975. In 1979, Elmer and Mary Sago became the new owners of the track. They initially planned on changing the name of the track to Competition World, but that never took off.   Jeff Burk was the announcer at I-55 in the 1980s. In 2004 he remembered , "Back in the 1980s for a while," Burk recalled,  "I was the weekly announcer at that track when it was owned by the late Troy Smotherman. It was a hookin' but viciously short eighth mile where, if a car couldn't get stopped, it ran across the main road into the [oval] track. Whenever you drove into the track, as you crossed by the sand trap you always had to keep an eye out for a race car possibly crossing in front of you. It is currently being used as parking for the adjacent dirt track and the occasional swap meet." It was a combination of factors that doomed the strip: flooding in 1991 and 1993, poor attendance, the success of the adjacent oval raceway, and competition from other big drag strips in the area.
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September 10, 1972
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Only the drag strip appears on this 1975 ​​​​ topo map
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of I-55 Dragway, mid-1970s, starts at 13:17 minutes
Both the drag strip and the oval track are seen in this 1996 ​​ aerial photo

Interstate Dragways/Sikeston Raceway/Jeffers Motorsports Park

  • Years of Operation:  1969-present
 
The first race at this 1/8th-mile track was held on Sunday, April 20, 1969, at the Interstate Dragways of Sikeston track. Some ads mistakenly stated May 20 was the opening race, but it was April 20. Directions to the track in 1969 stated it was located four miles north of Sikeston on Route H (the Blodgett Road) and a half mile on a blacktop road that veered sharply to the left, before coming to the I-55 overpass. The owner and manager was Johnny Brewer. The new concrete-surfaced strip was 30 feet wide and 1,500 feet long, built on an 80-acre tract at a cost of $90,000. It had bleacher seating to accommodate 1,500 spectators. The strip was sanctioned by AHRA. Newspaper ads stated that the track was affiliated with the 3-year-old Batman-A-Go-Go Club. On June 1, 1969, the cash purse was $285, including a $10 prize for the fastest person on foot for 1/8th mile. On Saturday night, June 21, 1969, Herb McCandless took the Super Stock title. He was from Memphis, Tennessee. Racing reverted from Sunday to Saturday night during the summer, then back to Sunday during the cooler-weather months. At some point, John Brewer sold the strip to Phil Brannan, according to information sent to DSL by Jim New . Dominic and Teri Blasco bought the strip in 2012, renaming it Dyno Dom's Sikeston Raceway. They affiliated with NHRA in 2013. More research is needed to flesh out the history of the track from the late 1970s to 2011. In 2016, Larry Jeffers and Randy Merrick bought the strip and renamed it Jeffers Motorsports Park, running under AHRA sanction.
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April 20, 1969
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June 8, 1973
Three men from left get the track ready for the opening race. They are Johnny Brewer (owner), Paul Schiwitz, and Larry Halter (painting the starting line).. Photo published in ​​​Sikeston Daily Standard, Apr. 17, 1969
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Sikeston Drag Strip, 2009, filmed by Eric Watkins, 8:58 minutes
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Flagman Dave Gilliland gives the start signal to Herb McCandless in his 426 Dodge Dart Hemi (left) and Frank Nickells' 427 Camaro (right) at the stip's opener. Photo published in ​​​​​​​​Sikeston Daily Standard, Apr. 21, 1969
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Interstate Dragways opened for its second season in 1970 under AHRA sanction again. Photo published in ​​​​​​​Sikeston Daily Standard, Feb. 28, 1970

Kansas City International Raceway

 
Located on 93 acres in Kansas City at 8201 S. Noland Road, this drag strip essentially replaced the old Kansas City Timing Association Drag Strip. It operated as an NHRA-sanctioned track as early a January 1968, but switched to AHRA a few months later. Jim Rodgers was the track manager in 1968. It ran every Sunday from March through November. It hosted an AHRA Grand American points race on July 20, 1968 and the AHRA Finals on October 4-6, 1968. The track hosted an AHRA Grand American race on July 4-7, 1974. It was co-owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Harmon, Jr. in 1980. In that year, it ran races on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It held its last race on November 27,. 2011. The city of Kansas City purchased the property to build a public park.
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September 17, 1967
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of KCIR, 1986 Summer Nationals, 7 minutes
1968
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of KCIR, 1987 Summer Nationals, 4:04 minutes
2002 aerial view of KCIR
May 15-17, 1970

Kansas City Timing Association Drag Strip


There were thirty-one hot rod clubs in the Kansas City Timing Association. To help curb illegal street racing, businessmen and city officials decided to construct a drag strip. They spent $70,000 building a first-class drag strip north of the city near the Missouri River in what newspapers described as a "lonely section of the city." It was located in what is today the area called the Northeast Industrial District. Brian McGuire, who grew up in Kansas City, researched its location for this project. The drag strip ran north and south. McGuire's research places the location of the drag strip on what is now Southern Road north of Front Street, then northward towards the Missouri River. Construction was completed in four months. They obtained the land at a cost of $2 a year from the Kansas City Southern Lines. Paved with asphaltic concrete, it was 3,850 feet long with an added 1,000-foot runoff area. Money was lent by the businessmen for the project. The track was finished for quarter-mile racing in July 1955. After seven weeks of racing, the Timing Association was able to pay back $20,000 of the loan.  There was some regret among the businessmen when street racing continued to be practiced.  Positive newspaper reports about the project were published in newspapers throughout the nation. This helped change the image of drag racing in the public eye and spurred other cities to permit the construction or sponsorship of drag racing tracks.  In 1956, NHRA moved its national championship race from Great Bend, Kansas, to the new race track at Kansas City. Dubbed "The Olympics of Drag Racing," Melvin Heath, from Oklahoma, took top eliminator honors with a run of 144.23 MPH and 10.53 seconds. On the opening day, Art Arfons' Allison-powered Green Monster No.6 became the first member of Hot Rod Magazine's new 150-mph Club with a 150.00 MPH pass. Overall attendance was about 35,000.  Bob Alsenz drove Kenny Lindley's "Misfire" dragster to a national record of 159.01 MPH. Of the 352 entrants, some thought the strip's shutdown area was too short and too dangerous so they left and entered the AHRA national championships being held that same four days (August 31-September 3) at Great Bend. Although documentation could not be found about racing in 1957-58, in 1959 trophy-awarded races were held on the first and third Sundays of each month. On the second and fourth Sundays, the track ran grudge races. But the track was also open seven days and nights a week as a place for racers to speed. Between 60 and 100 cars were there each summer evening. This had greatly helped reduce illegal street racing in Kansas City. On April 15, 1962, Walt Arfons ran his "Green Monster" jet car at the race track, clocking 206 MPH in 7.10 seconds. On May 19, 1962, three people were killed in a racing accident: the driver and his two passengers. They died from injuries sustained  when the car overturned and burned.
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1956
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1960
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July 30, 1961
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The flagman jumps high in the air to start a race at the Kansas City Timing Association Drag Strip in its first year of operation. Photo published in ​​​​Port Huron Times Herald, Oct. 23, 1955
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This aerial view shows the crowd of 18,000 that attended the opening race of Kansas City Timing Association Drag Strip on July 17, 1955. The graveled return road is just to the right of the line of spectator cars. A line of straw bales is just to the right of the return road. Photo published in ​​Kansas City Times, July 18, 1955
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Buzz Riley roars off the starting line at Kansas City Timing Association Drag Strip at the NHRA National Championships in 1956.  Photo published in ​​Kansas City Times, Sep. 1, 1956
CLICK HERE to see 8mm video footage of the U.S. Nationals in 1956 at Kansas City, pan through to the 4:30 mark to see the Kansas City segment; that segment concludes at the 11:20 mark

Knob Noster Raceway

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Sunday afternoon drag races started in June 1975, held at Whiteman Air Force Base. The racing categories were top eliminator, super eliminator, and stock eliminator. A 2-day Labor Day race in 1976 was the second annual event. Drag races were first held at Whiteman in 1958 (see Whiteman AFB entry below). More research is needed.
September 5-6, 1976
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Malden Air Base/SEMO Drag Strip


The first drag race on the Malden Air Base runway happened on June 11, 1961. It preceded an air show. But the first really big race of what was called SEMO Drag Strip (or S. E. Mo. Drag Strip) was held on July 30, 1961. That and subsequent regular races on the second and fourth Sundays of each month were sponsored by the Southeast Missouri Dragsters and Malden Jaycees. They were held on a 3,000 foot runway on the back of the base. To reach the racing strip, one took a turn-off one mile north of the main air base entrance on Highway 25, then drove west 1.5 miles to the strip entrance. On September 10, 1961, Ron Dent took top eliminator in his B dragster with a clocking of 9.69 at 149 MPH. Trophies were awarded to class winners. On October 8, 1961, Ray Godman's "Tennessee Boll-Weevil" made a race appearance. The strip was sanctioned by NHRA from its beginnings in 1961. Jim New was the tech man from 1961 to 1964, then managed by him in 1967. It was listed as one of 325 U.S. drag strips in 1968 published in an issue of the Swedish magazine Start & Strip . The strip was shut down by the FAA in 1967, worried that planes flying around the airstrip could have mechanical difficulties and be forced to land on the drag strip. The strip re-opened one more time on November 1, 1970, for a big altered meet.
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March 25, 1962
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October 2, 1966

Mid-America Raceway (Wentzville)

 
The drag strip, which had its opening race on August 11, 1963, was the first part of a $1 million racing plant to be finished. The 2.89-mile road course was finished in late 1965. It was located between Highway 70 and Highway 60, west of Wentzville. In early 1967 and before, it was running every Sunday under NHRA sanction. Ben Lindenbusch was the track manager. At least by July 1967, it operated under AHRA sanction. Those who raced there included Don Garlits, Gene Snow, and Dickie Harrell (the latter two who the compiler of this encyclopedia saw there in about 1970).  It was sold in 2005, and designated for development. The last drag race was held on October 31, 2004.
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April 25, 1965
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July 15-16, 1967
2004 aerial view of MAR
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Mid-America Raceway in the 1990s, 13 minutes
CLICK HERE to see video footage of photos taken at Mid-America Raceway in 1968, 3:45 minutes
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Spectators enjoy a front-row seat at MAR in Wentzville. Photo published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Apr. 20, 1967

Mo-Ark Drag Strip (West Plains)

  • Years of Operation:  1969- ca. 1972
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
This drag strip was located three miles north of West Plains next to Highway 14. On Sunday, July 26, 1970, Arnold Theodore Sondergregger of St. Charles was unable to stop his dragster after being clocked at 149 MPH in the quarter mile. He hit an embankment and went flying over the highway, which was at the end of the strip. He was hospitalized. The track may have run quarter-mile races in 1970, but later was shortened to 1/8th-mile races. It may have run on what is marked on old topo maps as Sky Haven Airport. More research is needed to flesh out its history and years of operation.
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This 1954 ​​​​​​ topo map shows Sky Haven Airport's location, west of Highway 14, north of West Plains
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This 1995 aerial view show what looks suspiciously like a drag strip, nestled just north of the intersection of Highway 63 and State Highway 14, and about three miles north of West Plains

Mo-Kan Dragway (Asbury)

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  • Years of Operation: 1962-present
 
Jim and Ron Wilbert were two of the original owners of Mo-Kan Dragway, the oldest continuously-operated drag strip in Missouri. According to its website, it has been in operation in the same location, ten miles southeast of Pittsburg, Kansas, since 1962. The strip was located two miles north of Asbury. On October 27, 1963, Walt Arfons ran his "Green Monster" jet dragster at Mo-Kan. Arfons returned to make exhibition runs on June 21 and October 4, 1964. Races were held every Sunday. On May 8, 1966, Benny Osborn and Don Garlits were featured in a match race. The track hosted an AHRA Grand American divisional points race on May 19, 1968. The long success of this track has much to do with putting on good shows, evident in the big-names it regularly brought in. Others who appeared here in the 1960s and 1970s included Jack Chrisman, Dickie Harrell, Stone-Woods-Cook, Tommy Ivo, and E. J. "The Michigan Madman" Potter.  In 1999 Carl Blanton purchased the track from the Wilberts. 
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June 30, 1963
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May 5, 1968
CLICK HERE to see superb video footage of Mo-Kan Dragway, Labor Day Classic on August 31, 2013, 24 minutes

NEMO Dragway ​​(Knox City)

  • Years of Operation: 1964
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
A new asphalt track for drag racing opened in Knox City by at least August 1964. Races were held every Sunday. More research is needed to find the exact location of the races and the years of operation.
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1964

Oakland Stadium ​​​(St. Louis)

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Drag races were held at the oval track located at or near St. Louis University. The oval track was torn down in April 1957, but 1956 was its last season of racing.
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July 27, 1956

Pacific Drag Strip/Raceway Park

 
This 1/8th-mile drag strip was in operation at least by 1963. It was located about four miles south of Pacific, Missouri, on the southern outskirts of Catawissa. Races were held on Saturday night. It hosted the AHRA 1/8th Mile Super Stock Nationals. Dick Harrell is one of those prominant racers who raced here. More research is needed to identify the range of years of operation and track details. Today it is a road in the Evergreen Estates  housing subdivision. On September 26, 1963,  Eric Frey was killed in a dynamite explosion while trying to fill an old well on the property. Frey was a business partner in the drag strip with Glennon Engleman, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the mid-1980s on murder charges. Authorities suspected Engleman, a South St. Louis dentist, was involved in the death of Frey, but couldn't pin that death on him. Engleman was sent to prison on two life sentences, having been convicted of two murders and pled guilty to three other murders. A lien was placed against the strip in 1964 because the drag strip had been remiss in not paying about $25,000 for the paving.
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CLICK HERE to listen to a 1-minute 1966 KXOK radio ad for a match race between Curt Wasson's blown-nitro '62 Corvette and Claude Bradshaw's 426 Hemi Cuda at  Pacific Raceway Park, pan to the 7:45 minute mark to hear it
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Class winner trophy from Pacific Raceway Park. Courtesy of Cliff
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What is today Central Åvenue in this 1995 aerical view, was probably the old Pacific Drag Strip

Poplar Bluff Drag Strip

 
Located in the vicinity of Thomas Street and Highway 53, it was on the  southeast side of Poplar Bluff. Racing stopped shortly after young Paul McClure was severely injured by an out-of-control race car. Young McClure was at the far end of the track, flipping the switch to show spectators the lane of the winning car. Eugene Brittain was the track owner in 1969. In July 1969, an injunction was filed against the track on the grounds of being a public nuisance.  Research was unable to determine when the track closed, but it may have been shortly after this court hearing or in the early 1970s. More research is needed to determine the years this track operated. 
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R.A.D. Drag Strip (Marceline)

 
On Sunday, June 28, 1964, drag races were held at the Marceline airport, on the north edge of town. This airport was built between 1945 and 1953. The races were sponsored by the Linn County Rural Area Development organization and races were conducted by the Marceline Jaycees. This gave rise to the name of the drag strip: R.A.D.  Trophies were awarded in five stock, three gas classes, and top eliminator. Seven hundred spectators watched 38 entries compete. Chuck Aronson won top eliminator in his '62 Super Stock Ford. Another race was held on July 12, seen by over 800 people. Ron Thompson of Chillicothe won top eliminator in his '64 Plymouth ultra stocker at that race. On the season's opening race on Sunday, May 2, 1965, 1,500 spectators watched 53 entries saw Jerry Wolcott set top time in the quarter mile at 12.40 seconds in his '64 Corvette. The track used their new Chrondek timers for the first time. Racing was sanctioned by the AHRA. Research was unable to uncover any racing after 1965.
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Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base ​(Grandview)

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Located seventeen miles south of Kansas City, this old military airfield hosted an AHRA-sanctioned drag race attended by 7,500 people on August 19, 1962. Two hundred racers used the east-west runway. Rod Stuckey took top eliminator honors and $500 with a run of 182.03 MPH in 8.80 seconds in his A/FD. Art Arfons had a best run of 214.28 MPH in his "Green Monster" jet dragster. The race was conducted by the Kansas City Timing Association. Proceeds from the race went to the Air Force Aid Society. The east-west runway is not there any more.
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Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base,  ​ 1954 topo map  

St. Charles "Drag Strip"


A drag race was held at St. Charles in November 1953. Two thousand spectators watched 140 competitors. It was sanctioned by the Automobile Timing Association of America. From photos of the event, races were conducted on an airfield, probably St. Charles Municipal Airport. That airfield was established in 1941 as a training site for Navy pilots. It had a 2,000-foot paved east-west runway. The airport closed in 2010.
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Photo of November 1953 drag race at St. Charles. Photo published in "Family Weekly Magazine" in ​Rapid City Journal, Mar. 28, 1954

St. Genevieve Drag Strip (Zell)

 
This 1/8th-mile concrete drag strip was located in Zell, a small hamlet six miles west of St. Genevieve. It was a dual lane strip with grass in the middle. According to reader, Lyndel Revelle, the track was built by Les Trautman, first opening in about 1966. Herb McCandless drove his '68 Hemi Cuda in 1968 at St. Genevieve. Another who raced there a number of times was Bill Hielscher in one of his "Mr. Bardahl" cars. Eddie Banes remembered a 1969 match race between Guthrie & Burton's "Hemi Hoss" and Steve Manhart. He said, those "were the fastest cars I had ever seen." In 1973, Duffy Denemark bought and operated the track. There are just a few patches of the old pavement from the strip left, located just off Highway 32, close to the golf course, which is just south of the little hamlet of Zell.   Jeff Burk visited the old concrete strip in 2004. "St. Louis racers like Bill Kuhlmann, Jerry Hass and others ran the St. Genevieve track in the Sixties," Burk said, "and most of them tell stories about golf balls from the adjacent fairways flying onto the track during racing.  It was the fastest track in the area and even today standing at one end you can see why. It is distinctly uphill from halfway down the track looking toward the old starting line. Just for grins we stepped off the width of the track and it was just a hair over 23 feet wide with about a foot drop-off. The old tower is still standing as a signpost for the old track."  More research is needed to identify the specific years of operation and details of its history.
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1996 aerial view of former site of St. Genevieve Drag Strip

Salem Dragway

  • Years of Operation:  1969-after 1971
  • Status:  Exact location unknown
 
Incorporation papers were filed for Salem Dragway by Gary Morton on July 14, 1969. The race track was located on Highway 72. On Sunday, May 16, 1971, the Salem Jaycees sponsored and hosted the first annual Ozark Drag Racing Championship races, with a $2000 total purse. It was a 1/8th-mile track. There is a likely-looking site that could have been a drag strip just northwest of the hospital, designated Private Lane 303, going in a southwesterly direction off County Road 3210, but that is pure speculation.  More research is needed to find where races were held and the range of years racing took place.
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Savannah American Legion Fair

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  • Years of Operation: 1952
  • Status:  Exact location unknown

Drag races were held at the Savannah Fair on Sunday afternoon, August 3, 1952. They were held in the Memorial Park.
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August 3, 1952

Smartt Field ​(Portage des Sioux)


Timed quarter-mile drag races were being held at Smartt Air Field in Portage des Sioux, Missouri, as early as May 1952. An article in Hot Rod Magazine, (Mar. 1952): 14-17, suggests that drag races were held on the air field probably in 1951. The Mound City Timing Association conducted those early races. The air field was located on the east side of the Grafton Ferry Road, fifteen miles west of Alton, Illinois.  The Aero Ranch Hot Rod Club conducted the Sunday weekly racing in 1952.
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1952

Springfield International Raceway/Show-Me Dragway/Ozark Raceway Park ​​(Rogersville)

  • Years of Operation: 1977-79, 1985-present

After the Springfield-Ozark Dragway closed, racers desired to find another local place where they could race. They formed the Greene County Drag Racing Association in fall 1976. They asked the Springfield city council if a city street could be closed for periodic racing. The city council voted no. Undeterred, the group found a place to build a strip southeast of Rogersville on State Highway U. Tom Riddell and Doug Rees were the track owners. The first drag race was held on June 19, 1977. On June 25-26, the track held a 2-day grand opening race billed as the Ozark Open. Under AHRA sanction, they booked in an 8-car funny car field.  On July 17, 1977, Jack Shore defeated Rick Rader in a pro stock match race, posting a best time of 9.22 seconds. On July 23, 1977, the track ran its first night race. The first season of the track was bedeviled with a couple of unfortunate rainouts. The 2-day Coca Cola Funny Car Festival on September 10-11, 1977, was a rain-out casualty. Before the rains halted action, Billy Graham of Manhattan, Kansas, set the strip ET record with a 6.66 clocking. Bill Cheppelle of Florida set the top speed mark with a 213 MPH run. In 1978, AHRA held a national event at the track called the Ozark Nationals. A three-day affair, it was held on June 30 and July 1-2. Don Garlits qualified first with a 6.268, 217 MPH run. Tom McEwen qualified first in funny car with a 6.57 second pass. Don Nicholson led the pro stock field with an 8.95 ET. Upsets ruled as the professional class winners were Clayton Harris, Billy Graham, and Lee Shepherd. In 1979, Tom Riddell became the sole owner when he bought out Doug Reese. He hired Sherri Mace to be the promotions director. The Ozark Nationals event was staged again in 1979. The pro winners in 1979 were Don Garlits, Tom McEwen, and Lee Shepherd. The track closed in late 1979, but was reopened by owner Al Wilkerson in 1985 as Show-Me Dragway, under IHRA sanction. Documentation shows the track operated under that name at least through 1986. The track experienced repeated vandalism in 1985, including the gutting of their new timing tower and a concession stand by an incident of arson. After several ownership and name changes (Springfield Dragway in 1988), Ted and Jenny Jones bought the track and named it Ozark International Raceway in 1990. In 1993, Jones sold the track to Lee and Mary Baltzell and Ken Donovan. In 2009, Mitch, Marty, and Neal Chance bought the track and renamed it Ozark Raceway Park, continuing operation under that name today under  IHRA sanction.
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1985
CLICK HERE to see video footage of Ozark Raceway Park, 2009, 10:00 minutes
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Ozark Raceway Park, 2010, 9:39 minutes
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CLICK HERE to see video footage of Ozark International Raceway, 2006, 10:08 minutes
Dale Tater was one of the funny car drivers making runs at the Ozark Open at Springfield Internaitonal Raceway. This was the strip's grand opening event. Photo published in ​​​Springfield News-Leader,  June 27, 1977
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Bill Daily of Springfield made runs in his "Pegasus" top fueler at the Sho-Me Dragway on July 4, 1985. Photo published in ​Springfield News-Leader,  July 5, 1985

Springfield-Ozark Dragway

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Located in Ozark, eight miles south of Springfield, this drag strip, opening as Springfield-Ozark Raceway, was sanctioned by AHRA circa 1963-64.  The first race was reportedly held in July 1962, although there is some conflicting documentation that dates the first race to June 16, 1963. Bill Kissee was the strip's first owner. Several AHRA records were set there at a meet in October 1963, including the B/GD record set by Pusch & Crews out of Kansas City that turned 170.77 MPH. The shutdown area on the east side veered into a dangerous bend on the strip. On June 27, 1965, at an AHRA divisional race, Lou Cangelose was killed while trying to negotiate this curve after a 197 MPH run in his "Missouri Missile" AA/FD. He was unable to slow the dragster in time because his parachute was torn from the car after he deployed it. He was 52 years old and had planned on retiring at the end of the 1965 racing season. Most unfortunate. In 1965 Pacific Promotions, headed by Wayne Meinert, bought the track from Bill Kissee. The name of the track was changed that year to Springfield-Ozark Raceway. On August 22, 1965, Jimmy Nix set a new track record with a run of 206.42 MPH at 7.99 seconds. On April 16, 1967, the track staged a 4-wide match race. They repeated the 4-wide race again in 1968. In 1968, the track changed back to its original name and Max Speak took over promoting the races, returning it to local control.  The strip opened the 1973 season with Kenneth Davis as its new manager and Ozark Dragway as its new name. Many of the best racers ran here including Don Garlits, Connie Kalitta, Jimmy Nix, Bob Sullivan, etc. The strip is now in a country residential setting with the old strip now called  Indian Valley Road.
May 25-26, 1968
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1973
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1974
This 1971 ​​ topo map shows the dangerous bend on the east end of the strip
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The Nix & Griffiths dragster slows down after beating the Martin-McClintock dragster to win the A/GD class at the AHRA Divisional Championships at Springfield-Ozark Dragway. Photo published in ​​​​​Springfield News-Leader, June 29, 1964
Chuck Grimsley (left) from Pasadena, Texas, goes up against Ted Detar "The Kansas Badman" at Springfield-Ozark Dragway. At the time of this photo, Grimsley held the track record for funny cars at 9.11 seconds at 148.8 MPH. Photo published in ​​Springfield News-Leader, July 1, 1966
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Dell Fisher, at the wheel of the Blue Angels top fueler from Milwaukee, won the 3-day Midwest National Championships at Springfield-Ozark Dragway in early September 1964. Photo published in ​​​​​Springfield Leader and Press, Sep. 8, 1964

Steele Airport

 
Stock car drag races first started being held on the mile-long asphalt runway of the municipal airport on February 19, 1956. Jim Littlejohn was the promoter. There were no entrance fees, no prizes, and only unmodified, family-type cars were permitted to run. More than 100 cars ran at that first race. Harold Cobb was the flagman. Races were held every Sunday. The popularity of the racing quickly grew. On March 4, the races drew 700 cars and 2,000 people. There were cars from Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee. With this crowd, the city council deliberated whether racing should continue, but gave their OK. The CAA also approved the racing, but only if at least one runway remained open. The free admission ended at the race on April 15, when a 50 cent admission fee began. On April 29, they awarded banners to the winners. The Kiwanis Club helped run the races. But the racing seems to have halted just before summer 1956. More research is needed on the closing of the airport to racing.
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1956
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Cars line up on the starting line at Steele Airport. Photo published in ​​Blytheville Courier News, Mar. 9, 1956

Sullivan Drag Strip/God's Thunder Valley Raceway

  • Years of Operation:   after 1966 - before 1976
  • Status:  4
 
This was an 1/8th-mile track located at 2717 Ridge Road, not quite three miles due north of Sullivan. Research hasn't found when it first opened, but it was operating after 1966. In circa 1972-73, it was called God's Thunder Valley Raceway. R. L. Steel used to race there with his '63 Comet and remembered those fun times, "We would take 5 or 6 car loads of people to the races and on the way home have bottle rocket fights going down I-44." It was being offered for sale in March 1974, comprising the drag strip on a hundred acres of mostly-cleared land. Two years later, it had still not sold, and 85 acres including the strip was being offered for $67,000. Charles Mueller was awarded an $8,500 judgment against the raceway as he had sold his interest in the track, but had never been paid. It was designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as a superfund site, as it once posed a potential risk because of contaminants or hazardous wastes. It was inspected in 1985 and deemed to warrant no further clean up action. Research was unable to identify whether the contaminants were dragstrip-caused or otherwise. It has been used in recent years as a surface to store farm equipment. More research is needed to determine the range of years of operation and details about its history.
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1996 aerial view of God's Thunder Valley Raceway
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Sammy Johns leaves the line at God's Thunder Valley Raceway in his F Altered '32 Bantam roadster en route to winning competition eliminator. Photo published in Flat River Daily Journal, Aug. 8, 1973

Tri-State Dragway ​(Kahoka)

 
Located on the Clark County Fairgrounds in Kahoka, this 1/8th-mile asphalt strip had its opening day on June 26, 1960. They began awarding trophies in fourteen classes, but upped it to twenty-six classes by July. The following year they were running Saturday night and Sunday races regularly. The track record was broken on June 23, 1962, by John Kranenburg, driving the Chicago-based Don Mattison  "Guzler" A/FD. He turned a 5.72. On August 11, 1962, Kranenburg returned and clocked a 152.37 MPH run, a world record if he could back it up the following week (not found in newspapers) On June 8, 1963, Jack Sharkey from Chicago, bested Arnie Beswick for stock eliminator honors, and in doing so, set the track record with a 7.46 ET and 93.84 MPH run. In September 1963, Don Garlits beat the "Guzler" A/FD in a best two-of-three match race. On September 8, 1963, Garlits set a new 1/8th-mile world record with 5.14 at 160 MPH, the first time the 160 MPH barrier had been cracked. The "Guzler" set a low time mark with a 4.96 second clocking. This was the first time any dragster had dipped into the 4's on an 1/8th-mile strip. On June 13, 1964, Art Arfons broke the strip speed record in his "Green Monster" jet dragster with a 5.12 at 165 MPH clocking. In 1965, the track affiliated with AHRA. Match races and special exhibition features were regular fares on an almost weekly basis during the 1960s. The wild times of the 1960s quieted down in the succeeding years. The last information that research could find happened in 1982, when racing seemed to be more local-based. But this 1/8th-mile track in rural northeast Missouri put on quite a show in its early years. Regarding the reason for the track's closing, DSL reader Mark Ellsworth wrote, "I visited the site years ago and spoke to a gentleman who told me they had to close the track after the state built a highway that by-passed the town and cut through the shutdown area of the track."


 
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July 10, 1960
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September 6-8, 1963
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Union "Drag Strip"


On Sunday, May 7, 1961, the first drag race was held on a graded dirt track at the junction of Highways 47 and 50, just east of the Bourbeuse River. The Idlers Car Club conducted the race, with trophies being awarded class winners. The track was graded by the city street department. Competition was only open to stock cars. Three hundred spectators watched thirty cars compete at the race held on May 21, 1961. Ab Riddle was the overall winner.
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Whiteman Air Force Base


On June 8, 1958, sixteen trophies were awarded to class winners at a drag race held on the old east-west concrete runway at the south end of the field. Carl Deifendorfer garnered the fastest speed at 99 MPH in his 1958 Corvette. The Sedalia police department provided the radar to clock the speeds. Drag races at Whiteman were held almost twenty years later, too (see Knob Noster Raceway entry above).
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