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Drag racing is as old as hot rodding itself

Drag racing is as old as hot rodding itself

Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado hosts over 125 drag racing events per year, as portrayed in these pictures.
Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado hosts over 125 drag racing events per year, as portrayed in these pictures.
picture by Ted Hollman

Which came first, the hot rod or the drag race? Trying to answer this is as futile as the same age old debate over the chicken and the egg. After all, the whole idea of “souping-up” your hot rod is the thrill of speed and to go faster than the next guy, right? Ever since drag racing hot rods began on rural roads and highways in the 1940s and ‘50s, this illegal and dangerous activity quickly got the attention of local police.

To discourage street racing, law enforcement officers encouraged organized drag racing on dedicated roadways, first on airport runways and later on ¼ mile drag strips built for that purpose. To further discourage street racing, early drag strips wisely only allowed racers on designated tracks who did not have existing serious driving record infringements. Get caught drag racing on the street, you can’t race on the strip. Moving off the streets and onto the tracks, there needed to be a drag racing governing body, to set rules and classes and to hosts events. The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) were born of this need -nearly all drag strips are associated with one of these sanctioning bodies or the other.

As drag racers continue to find new modifications to increase speeds, more classes of drag cars are created in order to keep races competitive. Today there are hundreds of classes, including stock, super stock, pro-stock, top fuel dragster, funny car, factory experimental and eliminator, to name a few. Throughout drag racing history, new classes have needed to be added to keep cars competitive and to keep non-professional, affordable, street legal cars in the sport.

Bandimere Raceway in Morrison, Colorado first opened in 1958. Bandimere is a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) sanctioned drag strip, known in NHRA circles as “Thunder Mountain”. According to Bandimere’s web site, there are several things unique to Bandimere among NHRA drag strips. The most notable difference, being in Colorado, is its location at the high altitude of 5800 ft. Colorado’s thinner air causes a drop in top speed and an increase in elapsed time of drag racing vehicles. It also results in less downward force on the rear wing of high speed dragsters, potentially compromising vehicle stability. Bandimere is only one of three NHRA strips that is concrete. It’s also the only drag strip in the world with a track cooling system, using cooling lines underneath the burn-out, staging and launch pad area, continuing for the first three hundred feet of the track from the starting line. It is the best lit drag strip in the country. Last but not least, the VIP Tower behind and over the staging area, incorporates 4 floors, 13 corporate suites and provides some of the best and most comfortable drag race viewing anywhere. Bandimere holds over 125 events a year, with two favorites being the annual Mile-High Nationals and High School Drags.

You can learn more about drag racing and the NHRA at their web site: Information about Bandimere Speedway can be found at: .

Enjoy the attached slide show of a recent race day at Bandimere. Watch the attached entertaining and informative You Tube video by Hot Rod Magazine on the History of Drag Racing.

Trivia Question: Who, in what year, invented the first front engine "slingshot" dragster?

Answer to last article's Trivia Question: Saab's first turbocharged vehicle was a 1978 Model 99, using a Truimph-designed slant 4 engine.

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