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1951 First Real Drag Strip Ever - Any Pioneers?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by AutoArt66, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. AutoArt66
    Joined: Apr 3, 2010
    Posts: 275

    AutoArt66
    Member

    A good friend always tells me the coolest stories of the very first days of hot rods and drag racing. In his 80s now he is a true living legend, well respected on the salt and at the dragstrip with multiple titles and records.
    He was talking today about "the very first dragstrip" - racing his flathead 32 Ford Coupe at Paradise Mesa (a auxillary military airstrip) near San Diego, early 1951. Rosetta timimg was there giving time slips, the first time he had ever seen one. Anybody on the HAMB know of a earlier dragstrip? Im not talking the early backroad stuff like in the alfalfa fields - Clark Road circa 1946 North of Long Beach (another great story!) but a timed, organized event is what we were wondering about?
    Thanks.

    Included is a pic of "some" of his older trophies and the cover of the 1957 Hot Rod Mag he is in winning the fuel class at 144mph:D
     

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  2. Freeman1938
    Joined: Jan 23, 2010
    Posts: 31

    Freeman1938
    Member

    I started drag racing in 1953 at Santa Ana drag strip. They claimed that was the first drag strip. I am wondering if Paradise Mesa and Santa Ana was one and the same. Santa Ana was on an old military airstrip and was in that same neighborhood. He might remember if it was later called Santa Ana. Also my folks bought a house one street away from Clark St. in 1945 right after the war between Long Beach and Lakewood and I remember street racing then. Us little kids would sit and watch.
     
  3. AutoArt66
    Joined: Apr 3, 2010
    Posts: 275

    AutoArt66
    Member

    The story he told today was right after the war 1946 or so. He would drive up on Saturday night from Imperial Valley to the Circle Drive In North Long Beach where all the Hot Rodders would gather, it was always packed with nice cars he said. They would size eachother up then head out to Clark road to settle things. He spoke about racing until the fog would roll in around 2am and how the spectators lined there cars along the road facing there headlights toward the "track".... He said 2nd gear was long in his 32 and he still remembers the headlights in his face as he waited what seemed forever for the next shift.
     
  4. BHT8BALL
    Joined: Aug 22, 2010
    Posts: 262

    BHT8BALL
    Member

    Search on Google, "Goleta Drag Strip" April 10th 1949, 1st sanctioned drag strip.
     

  5. Deuce Daddy Don
    Joined: Apr 27, 2008
    Posts: 5,363

    Deuce Daddy Don
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Paradise Mesa was in San Diego area, Santa Ana was the old Blimp hanger spot.
     
  6. BHT8BALL
    Joined: Aug 22, 2010
    Posts: 262

    BHT8BALL
    Member

    A little trivia for the morning! P
     

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  7. little skeet
    Joined: Jan 27, 2008
    Posts: 310

    little skeet
    Member
    from huston

    Not the first drag strip.....BUT....the oldest still running in the same location drag strip in the U.S.A.

    The Platte Valley Customs Club was started with 16 members who had a goal to build and run a drag strip. As it has turned out, it is the "Oldest Club-Owned Drag Strip" in the U.S. We met in June, 1950, and were called the "Ramrods". After a few name changes, the Platte Valley Custom Club was started in March 1952. Our club colors are kelly green and white.
    Our first drag race was held, August 22, 1953. at the Sedgwick Co. Fairgrounds, six more races were to follow at the track. The last race was threre in October 1955.
    On April 2, 1957, we met with the Julesburg Town Board and the Sedgwick Co, Comissioners and talked of building a drag strip.
    The first race on the new track was held on August 16 & 17th, 1958 with 210 entries.

    The "new track" is now the oldest still running in the same location drag strip in America.

    A great group of guys...The Platte Valley Customs!!

    "I was there at the first 1958 meet on the Airport runway" Little Skeet
     
  8. I doubt if Paradise mesa was the first but it was certainly an oldie. Paradise Mesa was shut down early 60s (?) with no local replacement, and opened the door for street racing in San Diego. Balboa Statduim (roundy track) also closed that same time and all the folks with grease under their nails had nowhere to go but El Cajon Blvd in San Diego to "show their stuff"..... Lots of racer vs cops altercations and riots at that time attributed to street racing.

    Even as a twelve year old, I recall the hysteria vividly .... damn hotrodders! lol
     
  9. Normbc9
    Joined: Apr 20, 2011
    Posts: 1,121

    Normbc9
    Member

    I'm a 1952 racer who frequented Paradise Mesa. Joaquin Arnett, Bert Reed, Jud Hirsh, Don Menard, Ed Strick, Howard Johannson and many others. It was a fun time and we were "out in the middle of the boonies!" Now it is growing buildings! We also went to LADS, Colton, Riverside raceway and Famosa. Those were times when we thought we knew it all! The SCTA was in it's infancy.
    Normbc9
     
  10. Elrod
    Joined: Aug 7, 2002
    Posts: 3,563

    Elrod
    Member

    Nov 22, 1954 - San Diego Road Rambler Club Member Don Menard of Chula Vista won the Fastest Eliminator trophy at the Paradise Mesa Drag Strip when he edged Bill Maddox on a Triumph motorcycle. The Bonnevile coupe driven by Menard was timed at 117.95 miles per hour in the quarter mile. Don was track manager of Paradise Mesa in 1951 through at least 1956 I believe. Don was also a SDTA timing official during the 1954 season along with Red Leggott and Otto Crocker.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
    kidcampbell71 likes this.

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