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Sunset drag strip, Mercer, PA

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Andamo, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. Andamo
    Joined: Jan 10, 2006
    Posts: 500

    Andamo
    Member

    I know some of you on here have raced at Sunset drag strip or Youngstown Drag city and I have some sad news to report. Alex Theofilis passed away this morning down in Florida. Alex is 83 years old and started Sunset in 1959 as a dirt/gravel drag strip and the track still was running up to last Sunday. God speed Alex, we'll all miss you.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011
  2. violet springs
    Joined: Apr 2, 2006
    Posts: 388

    violet springs
    Member

    Sad news, rest in peace Alex.
     
  3. Bad Banana
    Joined: Jun 20, 2008
    Posts: 769

    Bad Banana
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Oklahoma

    My very first drag strip win was there back when I was very young. My first pass in a real race car (6 second 1/8 mile) was there as well. Hope the track survives.. :(
     
  4. GOATROPER02
    Joined: Mar 22, 2006
    Posts: 2,057

    GOATROPER02
    Member
    from OHIO

    Saw Alex earlier this summer there at Sunset still working the gate

    Doing what he loved.....

    Tony
     
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  5. Andamo
    Joined: Jan 10, 2006
    Posts: 500

    Andamo
    Member

    Our club had it's picnic at Sunset a few weeks ago and I spoke a little with Alex when I first got there. I'm so glad that I did now. He and his brother George started Sunset in 1959 and it had a dirt surface, but the place was packed. They ran old Meander dragway and re-named it Youngstown Drag City too. Some big names of racing came and raced at Sunset and Alex could get them all to race there too. George passed away a few years ago and now Alex is gone. I hope this isn't the end of Sunset, but I fear it will be.
     
  6. GOATROPER02
    Joined: Mar 22, 2006
    Posts: 2,057

    GOATROPER02
    Member
    from OHIO

    My dad raced at both places through the 60's and 70's
    When we where there a couple months ago ..... When it came time to leave Alex stopped us at the gate, and in true fashion reach through the car window with a handful of lollipops

    It took me back to a time when I was young and life was simple
    Standing up in the back seat of the tow car to peer over the front


    If racetracks had promoters like him today..... Half wouldn't be in trouble like they are
    He knew how to make a buck and keep the racers coming back
     
    dan31 likes this.
  7. 27 Tall T
    Joined: Dec 16, 2005
    Posts: 245

    27 Tall T
    Member
    from Butler Pa.

    I have many fond memories of Sunset Drag Strip It was the first strip I ever went to ,1962. I ran one time this year. Alex was one of the best ,my he rest in piece.
     
  8. any pics of the track?
     
  9. Andamo
    Joined: Jan 10, 2006
    Posts: 500

    Andamo
    Member

    !cid_AF7C56F1-7595-11DB-93DB-000C6EB7C096.jpg

    Sunset 1959.jpg

    I took the newer picture maybe 3-4 years ago and since then a new home-made Christmas tree has been built. The track started out as a 1/8th mile track but at some point it was shortened to 528' (1/10th mile) because the cars were going too fast and there is a U turn at the end of the track. Then the starting line was moved back and a concrete launch pad was poured. Then the track went back to 1/8th mile racing. As you can see it's decidedly down hill and God help you if you loose your brakes ! You're in for a ride into the woods as a racer just did a few weeks ago.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011
  10. mrk11462
    Joined: Mar 11, 2012
    Posts: 2

    mrk11462
    Member
    from Fla

    Back in the day's my dad Ray Hodom ran a 40 ford coupe at this drag strip i was there every weekend racing.I went home last summer and got to meet Alex for the first time in 40 years what a guy he will be missed .Before i left i bought a cd from him of the past old racing going on there.I will return to the track in July when i am home again.
     
  11. 6-71
    Joined: Sep 15, 2005
    Posts: 537

    6-71
    Member

    I beleive I saw posted on here that the property has been sold and the strip will no longer be open.The surface was getting really rough(er) and the place needed lots of work to make it half ways safe for the racers.I spent many evenings and weekends there over the years.I was there for the 50 year anniversary race in 2009.Alex was a great guy who always took time to say Hello,he was a good promoter and manager.
     
  12. richie rebel
    Joined: Oct 8, 2007
    Posts: 1,185

    richie rebel
    Member

    i was there in 1960, i know, long time ago lol
     
  13. mrk11462
    Joined: Mar 11, 2012
    Posts: 2

    mrk11462
    Member
    from Fla

    Is the track up for sale now?
     
  14. Andamo
    Joined: Jan 10, 2006
    Posts: 500

    Andamo
    Member

    No, George's daughter owns the land now where the track is located and has no plans to sell or reopen the place. They've logged out the woods down at the end of the track so Sunset is done. We all have good memories about Sunset and in some ways, maybe this is the way it was supposed to happen. Alex and George built Sunset and now that they're gone, so is Sunset.
     
  15. hotrodderhaag
    Joined: Jan 22, 2007
    Posts: 2,106

    hotrodderhaag
    Member

    What a shame.... I spent many years watching cars fly down the uneven blacktop .. Even as a younger guy that place sure will be missed.. There just is not anything like it anymore... That place was a look back in time when two guys would pull up in 57 Chevys or older gasser... Ill never forget my days of sitting on the bleachers in the hot sun
     
  16. Grumpy
    Joined: Jan 28, 2003
    Posts: 2,551

    Grumpy
    Member
    from NE Ohio

    That is sad. We hoped it would stay open..

    I asked Alex a few years ago if I could do a "tribute" to Drag City on my 60 C10. He was great to talk to and gave his blessing.
    He was happy once he saw the finished product.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
    dan31 likes this.
  17. 70chev
    Joined: Apr 14, 2013
    Posts: 21

    70chev
    Member
    from knox, pa.

    A friend and I have made plans to run out to Sunset Dragway and make a short video of the place before it deteriorates further. Went by it on my bike the other day, it is located about 35 miles from where I live. Almost everything is still there and intact, the tower is in good shape as is the garage, which still bears the sign 'Birthplace of Bracket Racing'...Will notify via a post when we get the video on youtube.
     
  18. Andamo
    Joined: Jan 10, 2006
    Posts: 500

    Andamo
    Member

    Just a heads up on the place as it sits today. From what we understand, Alex' niece got ownership of the place after Alex passed and she wasn't friendly to letting folks onto the property. But we've also heard that she maybe no longer owns the place, but no word on who the new owner is. Just to make things clear too, the place WILL NOT re-open as a dragstrip no matter who owns the place.
     
  19. 70chev
    Joined: Apr 14, 2013
    Posts: 21

    70chev
    Member
    from knox, pa.

    Yeah, I heard pretty much the same thing from a township cop who followed me to the pit entrance before he hit his siren the other day. Scared me shitless but turned out he simply wanted to check out my Panhead. Anyway, there is some activity at the track. There was a red van outside the entrance with the people taking pictures, from the road. Also, there was a fire burning on the return road, brush, trash cleanup..The roadblock at the pit entrance has been beefed up, there is evidence that folks had been bypassing it with cars and bikes. I think my friend and I can do a short video without trespassing. If we can't. I guess we won't do it, I respect the owner's rights, whoever the owner may be. Thanks for the info...
     
  20. www.thunderbolt.cc
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 6

    www.thunderbolt.cc
    Member
    from USA

    This is sad news. :(

    I always wanted to find this track and see what was left. Had no idea it had reopened or I would have really enjoyed going up to see it. I'm about an hour and a half away at most.

    If anyone has photos of a white Thunderbolt that raced at this track in '64 and possibly '65, the original owner/driver would enjoy seeing them. Please forward to me here or via my email, craigsutton427 at gmail.com (remove the spaces and replace "at" with "@").

    Thanks,
    Craig
     
  21. elba
    Joined: Feb 9, 2013
    Posts: 606

    elba
    Member

    Back in 1964 or 65 or 66 ( getting old ) my buddy and I went to Ohio Drag City to watch a match race between Dandy Dick Landy and Hubert Platt. The car Dick had was the altered wheelbase gray Dodge that is in a lot of his pictures. I struck up a conversation with Dick's helper and he ask me what kind of car I had. I told home that I brought my Fathers 1963 Chevy wagon. He asked if he could use it to tow Dick back after the run. I said " sure ". So my buddy and I went along for the ride. COOL !!
     
  22. gasmanm01
    Joined: Nov 24, 2009
    Posts: 563

    gasmanm01
    Member

    there was also a sunset drag strip on thomas drive, across from the navy base in panama city, fl. i got my first experience to drag racing there in the early 60's. i believe some folks confuse the two. i know dave rolerson ran it for a few years and numerous other folks. i have a lot of old photoes from that track in p. c. sent arnie beswick some photos from the late 60s when he was there.he did not remember until he seen the pics.
     
  23. dangelo7
    Joined: Aug 3, 2013
    Posts: 6

    dangelo7
    Member
    from youngstown

    drive past sunset dragstrip today and saw it like that breaks my heart I've been going there since I was a kid and my prayers go out to Alex's family he was a good caring guy and always wanted people around, that had to have been the best experience ever going there as a kid I hope it opens up again :/
     
  24. dorf
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 1,087

    dorf
    Member
    from ohio

    yeh fond memories . how many other tracks could you just walk in the tower to say hello
     
  25. DaPeach
    Joined: Apr 22, 2009
    Posts: 255

    DaPeach
    Member
    from NE OH

    I've got something you guys may be interested in...Alex handed my dad a DVD that summer before his passing. It's a slide show of pics (no video) ppl had given him from racing over the years. I haven't gotten around to copying it yet, but it wouldn't be a problem if anyone was interested in a copy.

    My dad raced there in the late 60's/early 70's, Alex had remembered him at the gate a few years ago when he gave him the DVD.


    [​IMG]
     
  26. 65 GTO
    Joined: Mar 9, 2008
    Posts: 16

    65 GTO
    Member

    I'am interested in copy if you make copy's give me your address I'll send the money you need to do it.Thanks Paul
     
  27. DaPeach
    Joined: Apr 22, 2009
    Posts: 255

    DaPeach
    Member
    from NE OH

    Sure, no problem. I'll PM you when I get them done...I'll try for this week.

    -Karri
     
  28. 6-71
    Joined: Sep 15, 2005
    Posts: 537

    6-71
    Member

    Yeah,I am interested also.Please PM me when ready to go. tHANKS
     
  29. DaPeach
    Joined: Apr 22, 2009
    Posts: 255

    DaPeach
    Member
    from NE OH


    PM's sent


    quick snip I took from my craptastic TV last night:

    CLICKY


    I made 5 copies last night, 3 left up for grabs if anyone else is interested.

    [​IMG]



    edit: I don't mean to threadjack, but I figured if anyone was following this thread, it would be better to put this here than the classifieds.
     
  30. Ramblur
    Joined: Jun 15, 2005
    Posts: 2,102

    Ramblur
    Member

    Oh,me too! PM me the details. Think I still have a Sunset class winner windbreaker in my Ohio hoard...
     

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