Drag Strip Days

Drag Strip Days

You watch the clock as the as the workweek winds down. The time passes slowly, the hands hardly moving. It’s Friday. No, not just any Friday. Your mind skips back to the night before as you run through your checklist. You’ve already gassed up the station wagon and loaded it with everything from sack lunches to camping gear. Camera? Check. Film? Check. Sunscreen? Double check. This is the weekend you’ve been waiting for—the weekend at the drags.

Say it’s 1959 and it’s summertime. You’re in Julesburg, Colorado: a town with a population of under 1,500 in the northeastern corner of the state. Just about 100 years prior, the place gained notoriety as a stop along the Pony Express. Now, thanks to the Platte Valley Custom Club and the fine folks who bought $10 bonds for the cause, things are moving a little faster in Julesburg.

There’s a smooth stretch of asphalt, 60 feet wide and one mile long where the drags are taking place. Cars come in from all across the region. Check the license plates in the parking lot. South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Colorado and the like. It’s an NHRA sanctioned track, complete with Chrondek timing courtesy of the Denver Drag Board. This is the real deal.

On this particular weekend, there are 202 competition cars and 15 motorcycles. The new rail jobs interest you, as do the old Ford-bodied machines that have been lengthened for dragging (some, however, have maintained their stock sheetmetal). You watch the races and snap pictures of whatever catches your eye. And in the end of the weekend, maybe your roll of photos may end up looking a lot like these.

Whether you’re out east, out west or somewhere in between, very few things beat a trip to the drag strip.

Joey Ukrop

Photos by Darrell Zimmerman, Hot Rod Magazine, October 1959

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