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History Just for fun - A couple of legendary Georgia dragstrips

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Toby Denham, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. The photos I posted may be of interest to some of you, especially if you're from the southeast (particularly Georgia). The first two attachments are sets showing before and after shots of 2 legendary (now defunct) dragstrips in central Georgia. The third is an additional photo to acompany the second set.

    The one showing the 2 rails at the starting line with Buster Couch is of the Atlanta Speed Shop Dragway in Newton County, Georgia. It was the site of the Atlanta $10,000 event, which was one of the richest drag racing events in the country (ca. 1964 - 1971). I can still remember hearing the "Sunday ... Sunday" radio ads about this one. The old strip is now the main street running through a subdivision.

    The other showing the 2 old style Funny Cars is Yellow River Dragstrip in Rockdale County, Georgia. I also included a third modern shot looking down the old Yellow River strip.

    The significance of Yellow River is the funny car crash that took place there in 1969, which killed several people and injured many others. This event has been considered to be one of the worst (if not the worst) mishaps in drag racing history. Yellow River was one of those rural unsanctioned strips that I'm sure many an oldtimer can remember. To make matters worst, the promoter had little or no insurance. The strip is still there, running through a trailer park ... complete with speed bumps.

    All old views are courtesy of Fred Simmons and The newer "after" photos are mine, taken about 4 years ago. I tried to approximate the earlier Simmons' shots.

    I thought it would be fun to share this. If any of you have similar photos, post them. Hope y'all enjoy.

    P.S. As an after thought, I posted a fourth shot courtesy of Ernie Scott. This photo shows just how safe Yellow River was!!! You could get right up close to the action ... boy, those were the days.

    Attached Files:

  2. JasonB
    Joined: May 27, 2007
    Posts: 17


    Man, I used to go to the Speed shop back in the late 70's with my Dad. He had a black '72 Mustang with a 427 in it. We would ride up there in it, take the street tires off and put the 14x32s on it (they would hang out of the fenders about 3") any way I found this video from 1968........

    Do you have the address of the tracks now? I would love to drive by....Jason
  3. Thank's for posting. While not a native, I love seeing all the old tracks and photos. The GeorgiaDragRacing is a wealth of great old informatoin and history.
  4. I don't have addresses, but the Atlanta Speed Shop track is now called Ewing Road. Take 278 west out of Covington. Look for Old Hwy 229 on on the right. Go a mile or two and Ewing is on the left. The old entrance is just before you turn on Ewing (it's overgrown).

    Yellow River is now known as Sycamore Trail. You can actually see down the old strip from I-20. To get there, go west from Conyers on I-20 and get off at the Almon exit. Go straight down the frontage road and turn on East Dollar Circle. Thats the old entrance to the track. All of the original roads and etc. are still there, but it makes up the trailer park complex. The strip is the straight main road through the complex. It's fun to drive down the road and imagine the old A/FX cars that use to burn it up.
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  5. vertible59
    Joined: Jan 25, 2009
    Posts: 1,059


    Anyone remember Camp Wheeler in Macon? Flagman start and speed ET. Saw Art Arfons, "The Michigan Madman" E.J. Potter, Richard Petty, Hubert Platt, Houston Platt, and other notables race there. Everything was run heads up by classes. A lot of fun from a time we will never see again.
  6. Here's a great video someone posted on Youtube. It shows the Atlanta $10,000 at the Atlanta Speed Shop Dragway in 1968. There's no sound, but ...boy, oh boy ... there's some great footage!!! Toby
  7. I've only read about Camp Wheeler. However, I remember those names you mentioned. What ever happened to the the colorful characters with colorful nicknames that made up drag racing in the 60s and 70s??
  8. I was drivin' around just north east of Bainbridge about 10 years ago and ran across an old dragstrip out in the middle of no where. I ran my Honda Civic down it. I have looked and looked and I can't find it again to save my ass. Any old GA natives know about that one?
  9. vertible59
    Joined: Jan 25, 2009
    Posts: 1,059


    I guess they're no longer "sponsor friendly", or some other politically correct, newspeak nonsense.
  10. Del Clark
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 620

    Del Clark
    from DeLand,FL

    Cool then/now pics. Thanks.
  11. When I was 15 years old Gene Cromer live right down the road from us and was/is my childhood hero,,,he slipped across the border and won a few races in his Willys,,that was a fast car,,,he still owns it to this day but it has been taken apart and never went back together. HRP

  12. Jonesey
    Joined: Mar 5, 2009
    Posts: 34


    This is a trip! My father and I were just talking about Atlanta Speed Shop and Yellow River today. They used to go all the time as teenagers before I came along. We watched two 60's drag racing videos on the YouTube today at the office. Yea, were that busy. Seems like good times.

    Unfortunately, just about everything within 50 miles of Atlanta has been laid to waste in favor of your standard strip malls and neighborhoods. Drag tracks included. I guess the closest now are Commerce and Eatonton. I have heard there is a new place just across the state line in AL though.
  13. luckystiff
    Joined: Mar 20, 2002
    Posts: 1,465


    my dad owned the BIG A dragway in abbeville,al 2 or 3 different times and was also part owner for a short while of the Albany,Ga dragstrip with "Big Daddy" Ellis Milner. don't knwo what became of the albany track bt i rode by the BIG A a few years ago and it was all over grown. sucks i spent pretty much every weekend there from birth to about 10 after my folks split and my dad let the track go in the divorce...ken....
  14. daren
    Joined: Aug 11, 2002
    Posts: 213

    from Albany Ga.

    Hey I live near Albany Ga, the only strip around here is US19 dragway, been here since i was little, is that the same one?
  15. luckystiff
    Joined: Mar 20, 2002
    Posts: 1,465


    probably. he was involved with that in the early 70s or so. may have even been out of it by the time i was born in '72. i seem to remember going a coupla times when i was REALLY young but that could have just been to run one of his cars...ken....
  16. Milnor
    Joined: Jun 19, 2009
    Posts: 1


    Remember watching Gene and the Willys race at Jaycee's strip in Greer, SC. Those were the days!
  17. D-fens
    Joined: Aug 30, 2007
    Posts: 369

    from Huntsville

    In the mid-80's my sister lived near Augusta, in a little burg called Hepzibah. Off to one side of the neighborhood there was an old drag strip, and the remains of an oval track. I walked that old strip many times thinking about what used to be. Locals told me (then) that it'd only been a year or two since the place was dug up, all the tracks had been sitting unused since maybe 1970 or '71.

    There's a website dedicated to that place now, but I can't remember the name of it.
  18. 48fordnut
    Joined: Nov 4, 2005
    Posts: 3,618


    US 19 is the old albany strip. I was in the military when it was built. we used to break the lock in the early 60s and race on sundays. I lived about 2 miles from it. I remember seeing a ford race there when his 4 speed gave up, and he put in a back up trans with 3 ears broken off. the old narrow pattern. Great videos, thanks.
  19. techdrawsb
    Joined: Dec 2, 2009
    Posts: 8

    from GA

    Hey y'all: Has anybody come up with the location of Camp Wheeler Drag Strip? MY dad, Charlie Bush, used to race there (among other tracks in the southeast). He still has one of his trophies from CW. Anyway, I was looking to go there since I am only about an hour away from Macon. He may know where it is (haven't asked him yet) If so, I'll post directions if no one else knows.

  20. TomP64
    Joined: Dec 10, 2008
    Posts: 417

    from Vancouver

    Camp Wheeler is southeast of Macon off #16 , it runs parallel and to the north of Joe Tamplin Industrial Blvd. Looks to be still there.

    That Hugh Greeson video is great! Love the funny car dry hops.

    Ken, where abouts in town was Abbeville? I assumed a place a mile or so east but it doesn't look long enough.
  21. k9racer
    Joined: Jan 20, 2003
    Posts: 3,117


    As per the Ga auto racing fame record books the first paid admission drag races were held at the Lake wood race track 53 or so, The start line was at the 1 st corner and they ran toward the 4 th corner.. Yes it was Dirt and several other dirt drag strips opened in Ga. and Al. the were gone by 57..Hosten county frag strip was in the warner robins area it closed in the mid to late 60s.. I always liked Reds Drag strip..
  22. dirty old man
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 8,353

    dirty old man

    In '58 I drove my friend's Mom's '55 Buick Century at Camp Wheeler a few times, but I told him to find somebody else as his Mom didn't know he was racing her car, and I didn,t want to be involved when he got caught. His father was a very powerful man in our little cotton mill town, he owned 2 of the mills! Don't think he ever did get caught, or maybe they figured as long as he was working on that car he wasn't gonna get into other mischief!
    That Buick had a Dynaflow trans. with a switch pitch converter which went into a much higher stall speed in the low pitch, but stock it was only in the high gear in the trans. Herbert figured out how to get that converter to switch to low pitch in 1st gear and had what was probably the first high stall converter! The guys in tri 5 chevys couldn't understand how that more door Buick beat them not only on top end, but also off the line!
    The track didn't have any kind of electronics then that I remember, no et or mph. Just had a flagman and a finish line judge who signaled back which lane won.
    Camp Wheeler was an old WWII Army base, and the strip was a 2 lane concrete road on the base. The return road was dirt.
  23. BulldawgMusclecars
    Joined: Jul 15, 2010
    Posts: 508


    I used to live in Rockdale and Newton, and while I'm too young to remember the dragstrips (born in '69), I have checked out both locations before, and heard many a story about both of them.

    Anyone here ever race at the "Headhunter Motor Club" in Eatonton? Its probably the closest thing left in GA to those old tracks. I used to go every Thursday night back in the late 90s.
  24. codeblu
    Joined: May 11, 2006
    Posts: 606


    I think there used to be one up here in Blairsville, and one in Blueridge, I'll see if I can find some pics.
  25. Dixiebaby76
    Joined: Jun 7, 2016
    Posts: 1


    Do you remember back in 1974 when The Boogey Man was killed on a practice run on a Saturday afternoon at the Atl Speedshop??
  26. Floater03
    Joined: Aug 2, 2010
    Posts: 504

    from Byron Ga.

    The Moonlighter, with Gene driving is alive and well running with the Southeast Gassers. They will be at Montgomery Motorsports Park this week end.

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