Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Detroit Dragway - Gone But Not Forgotten



Flashback Friday: Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! At <b>Detroit Dragway</b>!

Detroit Dragway was located in the then not so populated Brownstown Township of Michigan just outside of Detroit. It opened in 1959 and closed its gates in 1998.

The shutdown was mainly due to two reasons. The first reason was Detroit Dragway needed a renovation, but the proposal to do so was turned down by Township residents in 1994. The extra traffic congestion and noise pollution were not what the now populated upscale Brownstown Township wanted. The other reason for closing down was a lack of business due to a much nicer updated track [Milan Dragway] only about an hour away.

Although Milan Dragway did not in no way have the history that Detroit Dragway had, it did, however, have much-needed safety regulations and creature comforts to attract more racers and spectators on a weekly basis.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

"Sunday, Sunday, Sunday at Detroit Dragway", that used to be the catchphrase broadcasted across the radio waves when main events were being promoted. Although by the time I was old enough to go racing with my Dad the real history of the track had already passed on, the tracks legendary stories, records and photos prove that there's no doubt the big time drag racers would always show.

In 1959 and 1960, Detroit Dragway hosted the U.S. Nationals for the first time putting them on the map and paving the way to host many more great racing events. Big names like "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, Connie Kalitta (a hometown hero), Shirley Muldowney, the Sox & Martin car, the Ramchargers, car and much more would come to compete.

<b>Detroit Dragway</b>

Detroit Dragway: A Dragstrip with a Purpose

One great thing that Detroit Dragway did for the surrounding cities was it gave illegal street racers a place to race legally. Growing up in Michigan I witnessed and joined in on the street racing fun. Telegraph Rd. among many other Detroit highway roads were a hot spot for street racers, and Detroit Dragway was a place to go close by and legally race.

Also, another service Detroit Dragway provided – a great place for The Big Three to promote their products. What better place to put their new performance vehicles on display than a racetrack that is right next to the then biggest automobile manufacturing city in the world (The Motor City).

The Changing of Detroit

Things have changed through the years. Detroit may still be nicknamed The Motor City, but it definitely is not the biggest automobile manufacturing city in the world anymore, and by most accounts, it is still broke and struggling.

Street cruising/racing on Telegraph, Outer Dr., and Grand River disappeared in the late 70’s and 80’s, but made a comeback in a huge way in the '90s and early 2000s, but recently disappeared again for good reason. The last of those good times came to an end somewhere around 2003. My pals and I were the last generation before a police taskforce was finally formed putting an end to the dangerous past time. Definitely a good thing. Although there may be some strays out looking for that kind of trouble still, there's not even enough of them for the police department to have a taskforce for illegal drag racing anymore.

<b>Detroit Dragway</b>

White Knuckle Racing
I did get to race at Detroit Dragway a few times before it was shut down. I was always hearing these stories about a big dip at the end of the track after the finish line, and I'm here to tell you it was there. I don't know if I would say it was dangerous, but it was an eye-opener when you crossed the finish line (hence the need for renovation).

Racing at Detroit Dragway was fun. There was a slight feel of danger and fear when racing at that track, almost like you were crossing your fingers in hopes that you made it down the track and back to the pits safely. Milan Dragway doesn't really give you that feeling, but that's because the track is up to code and the safety is at 100 percent.

Nowadays, Milan is where racers from the southeast side of Michigan and beyond go to do there drag racing. I recommend it to anyone, it's a nice facility and a nice place to race. And I can tell you from experience that the price of emissions is a small price to pay opposed to being caught in an underground drag racing sting.

Gone But Not Forgotten
The once famous Detroit Dragway located at Sibley and Dix in Brownstown Charter Township is now a warehouse facility. Most who live with-in the surrounding high-class bossie neighborhoods don't even know what kind of history was bulldozed down to keep their neighborhoods quiet.

But for those of us who do remember "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday" being shouted out on the oldies rock station, we knew what it meant. It was time to get the old clothes out, help Dad chain up the race car, and go and have some fun while dreaming and counting down the years to when we would one day get to do the same thing.

DETROIT DRAGWAY – Just another part of drag racing history gone but not forgotten.

first trip to <b>detroit dragway</b> was in 1961 when my cousin took me i ...







 

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