Dragway of Magnolia

 

Some history on the first Drag-Strip Big Al ever raced on! Wow, talk about a flash-back in time! One of my best friends and the first guy who taught me to spin a wrench Joe Shimko used to race his Pontiac and Ford powered Volks-Wagen there and talked me into taking my 348 Tri-Powered 58 Chevy Impala Convertible down to see what it could do. What a trip, and had a ball. We had to stop racing to let a plane or two land, then race a while, then stop so they could take off. I still have the Trophy somewhere from my first trip down the track in H Stock. The next time I ran they put me in A Open and I still smell the exhaust of the Hemi I ran! LOL Just thinking about it brings back some fond memories and put a smile on my face from ear to ear. Iím sorry to say that Joe has been gone for quite a while now but the track is up and running in better form then ever! Being in touch with Edie Cogan who has been involved with Magnolia for a very long time, she put me in touch with Jim Kinney who is the track manager and he wrote a little history on the Track.

Here it the story.

The property that Magnolia Drag-Strip is on was owned by a local family for many years and was originally used as a landing strip for some of the small planes people in the area owned. It was in 1955 when Dan Larsen who owned a business in town and was a car lover and very social with all the locals approached the property owners and proposed a deal on renting the air-strip to promote some drag-racing events. The idea sounded good to them and that was the beginning of Magnolia Dragstrip!

In those days the drag-strip was a quarter mile long with plenty of shutdown area and a good sized pit area. A fast car in this time period was probably a 12 or 13 second car. There was no timing equipment; no win lights and you had to have a good eye on the Flag-man as that was how we started the race! I think at the end of the quarter mile days a couple of the cars were able to run in the low 8 second range. Every-ones car were in a designated class which was figured out with spreadsheet of cubic inch against the weight of your car or Horsepower against the weight of your car. There were no Eliminator Run Offs, just your class run Off. Somewhere in the Sixties some-one made a traffic light hanging in the middle of the two lanes and 2 track employees would stand behind each car so they could line up their eyes on the light and the car in that lane to see if they Red Lighted! You were allowed to Red Light two times but if you Red Lighted a third time you would be disqualified! Remember, there were no lights or timing equipment so during the daytime another two track employees would be at the Finish Line who would raise a flag when the car in his lane would cross the Finish Line. This way you could see who won. When they started running at night, the guys on the Finish Line would use flashlights to signal the winner!

Then the track came into the Twentieth Century and bought some timing equipment! They bought some timing equipment but were only capable of timing the first car to break the beam on the Finish Line. But as we all know, once the Damn breaks the flow goes stronger. Soon there was dual timing lights to time both lanes and then came their first Christmas Tree. It was homemade, but it worked OK and some said it was better then a Flagman. Others disagreed, but the future marches on.

Talk about time marching on, it was now in the late sixties and about this time that Dan Larsen decided it was time to retire. Now enters a fellow by the name of Gary Ralston. Gary came in and decided it was time to upgrade the equipment! Out with the old and in with new up to date current timing equipment. They still were running classes but now they could have Eliminator Run Offs of National Records. Then along came Bracket Racing and the Class Racing started to disappear. All went well for about ten years and then in the spring of 1978 Gary was getting ready to open for the season and an ill wind blew in and Gary and the property owners had a falling out over who knows what and the track went in to hibernation for the next Seventeen years!

Did I say Time Marches On? Fast forward to 1994 when Bruce and Dixie McCreery who are related in some way or another to the property owners asked them if they could use the track for a Car Show and Cruise-In. The owners said yes and not to long after that they asked if they could use the track for racing again. Again they said yes and new buildings were built, all new computers and timing equipment were purchased along with all thatís needed to operate the track. At this time the cars were going so fast that they decided to run the track at one eighth mile instead of the quarter mile it had been for safety reasons. Fast Forward again to 2011 and Dixie decided that eighteen years was long enough to run a race track.

Now enter Tad Ries and Jim Rankl who purchased the remaining two year lease along with all the buildings, timing equipment and concession equipment, everything to keep the track open and running. Tad Ries and Jim Rankl are successful used car dealers in Canton, Ohio for over thirty years and are all drag-racers. Jim and Tad hired Jim Kinney and Dave Ray to manage everyday operations. There has never been a scoreboard at the Magnolia Drag-Strip. They have purchased and received two new LED scoreboards along with new timing equipment and all the grounds equipment needed to keep everything shipshape.

Our main race days will be on Sundays with approximately six or seven Saturday Races scheduled so far. We have Special Events scheduled such as Stick Shift Circuit, Superstock/Stock Circuit, Blown Willys & Angliaís, 7:; Heads Up Class, Quick Sixteen and of course for the sixth year in a row our Big Labor Day Weekend Race with Approximately $ 12,000.00 Payout for the three days. There will be many more such as a Day for Burn Kids, A Give-a-way Bicycles Day, a special day as a fundraiser for the Special Olympics and more to be added soon. Please check out our web-site for more details on our Calendar of Events, Rules, Payouts, Pictures and News at www.DragWayofMatgnolia.com Come check us out at the New Place to Race, Tad & Jims Dragway of Magnolia. Oh yea, I almost forgot to mention we are kicking off with a Free Test & Tune for all on April 29th. 2012 weather permitting! Racing will be Free and concessions will be open to purchase food. Then the following Sunday is the first Race Day. We hope to see you all then.


Stop by and say Hello to Tad, Jim, Dave and JK.