(Words and photos by Doug Gregory) – As we’ve stated before, Thornhill Dragway is the oldest continuously-operated drag strip…period. Some can dispute that (like me or people that raced at Pomona, Bakersfield, and Redding, California, etc before 1953…BL), but none can claim they’ve kept operating with only six hours in which to hold an event each week April through October. This comes courtesy an injunction from a neighboring county that is recognized and enforced by the county Thornhill resides in. So since the early 1970s this track has only been open from 6PM till Midnight on Saturdays. Hard to argue with the tenacity of the locals to keep this piece of history operating. It was an airfield used by bootleggers during prohibition and began hosting dirt drags in the early 50s. Bit by bit the track was paved. Elmer Trett even called this his favorite track. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but has a feel all its own and the local racers are absolutely devoted to it.
We usually get up there a few times a year and this particular event featured the Straight-Axle Mafia and regular brackets. If you are into new cars then this might not be the track for you. They’re there, but scarce. Now if you like late-model performance placed in older chassis then it might be right up your alley. LS and Coyote swaps are regularly sighted and generally running strong. Pintos and Mustangs dominate the Ford camp most days unless SAM is there then the popular Falcons and Comets can really add up. Nearly every Chevy platform that has been popular with drag racers is represented in significant numbers. There’s a whole slew of Mopar racers that let themselves be known, but there weren’t many in attendance at this event.
This gallery and the next are showing the photos I selected in the order they were taken. I didn’t group them by car, class, or otherwise. Maybe I just felt lazy. Anyway, I’ll mention just a few cars. The red fox-body Mustang is a LS swap featuring some exhaust-driven boost. The car is exceptionally clean, but is sans any safety equipment because they say it’s a street car (with bull horns). It’s a strong runner and was having a little trouble putting all that power down. The others I’ll mention are this pair of 74 GTOs. One is stronger than the other and actually participated in Hot Rod’s Drag Week. Both of them are super-straight and gleaming examples of a car rarely seen or appreciated. Most folks don’t even know a GTO was offered through 1974 with ’74 being the one-year-only Ventura-bodied version. Think of what could have been if GM had allowed the SD-455 to be sold in them. Some were put together, but never offered to the public and were reportedly crushed.
One more quick note. See that Tony McConnell’s yellow Anglia (Ford six-powered and the slowest in SAM) was again my best chance at getting a good wheelie shot from the straight-axle cars.
Check back for part 2 of our coverage from Thornhill.