I-55 Drag Strip

JL89

Member
Hello, I am just curious as to why the drag strip closed. I always see it as im on my way to the pits and think, huh wonder why it was closed. So if anyone can shed some light on the subject i would appreciate it. Maybe someone has some photos of what it looked like when it was up and running. There are not alot of drag strips in the area anymore within an hours drive. Thanks for any information, Jeremy.
 

99

Active Member
Probably the biggest reason the drag strip closed was because the circle track became so popular. When more and more racers started racing at I55 and their trucks and trailers became larger and larger the old normal pit area inside the track was no longer big enough.
At that point the drag race pits started being used as the dirt pits. I can remember hearing about the drag racers being PO'd about all the dirt left over from Sat. night.
The other thing that hurts drag racing on a local scale like I55 was, is the fact that there is very little spectator gate income. At the time of it's closing things wern't like today where you go out and beat the bushes and find a race sponsor or two to foot part or all of the bill.

THANX RICH

People say I'm getting crankier as I get older. That's not it. I just find I enjoy annoying people a lot more now. Especially younger people!!!
 

Red70Racer

Jeff Palazzolo
There might be some merit to what Rich said. My inlaws used to race there every week, and I believe there was a flood that basically destroyed the footing of the track requiring a complete rebuild. The income potential vs. the fact a flood could put it back in the same shape is probably the demise of drag racing at I-55
Now Christmas with drag racing inlaws is a real pain in the butt! They just don't understand.:eek:
 

bryanracing55

New Member
Both of you are correct and also the fact that Gateway rebuilt and at the time and so did Winstville (Sorry spelling still bad in the new year) The cost to bring the track up to date was not worth the income and up keeep. BUT we do now have some great kart racing for anyone looking to get into racing at a low cost leval. Trust me the comption is just as tough and a ton of fun. Give it a try and I'll bet you get hooked. They don't cost as much as a latemodel but are a great time with the family and you don't haft to sit far away from your pits. Happy new year everyone.:D
 
drag strip

I believe the big flood of 93 done the strip in. When Carol owned the track she had our company redo the burn out boxes and resurface the starting line. The day we were finishing, the water was chasing us up the track. After the water went down the damage was evident. The water had lifted sections of the track making it very bumpy. The entire track would have needed to be resurfaced to fix it. I guess they didn't want to spend that kind of money, even though they just spent alot on it just prior to the flood.
 

JL89

Member
So flooding is a major reason the track closed. Thanks for all the replies. Wish it was still operational but with all the flooding we have had in recent years I see how the cost out weights the ability to make a profit with the cost of rebuilding the track after every major flood.
 

glbert

Member
The first year I went to I55 was '91 for the Nationals that they had in late September which was a Friday and Saturday night show. I think they lost a good part of their season that year because of the flood and you could clearly see the water line on that brown building that showed how high the water had reached. I think they were still drag racing that year because our Saturday night show got rained out and they couldn't make it up on Sunday because of the drag strip. I may me wrong about that fact but I do know they made up the show on the following Saturday night. That year, I think Hammerle won the Mods and Weaver won the Late Models both nights. They called that flood a five hundred year flood then two years later in '93 another one just like it hit the track and that may have been the end of the drag racing.
 

99

Active Member
Actually a flood is what built the dirt track.
In the 70's an elderly lady was leasing the drag strip to a fellow who had raced a modified with Allied (old coupe with 348/409 power). There came a flood and he was paid for the damage done to the strip, tower, out buildings, ect. He repaired what need to be repaired to continue racing and used the left over money to build the dirt track.
Some of the old timers on here will probably remember seeing the track from the Interstate as it progressed, only to find progress stopped. At that time flood ins. was, and may still be, backed, provided by, guarenteed by, whatever they called it .... the Federal Goverernment. They paid off on these ins. policies. Some how they found out all the money had not been spent on what it was paid out for and wanted the funds returned or the insured property repaired. He figured that rather repay the money he would fix what the funds were payed to fix.
At that point the dirt track layed dormant for a time until he had the money to go forward and finish up. Floods have played a LARGE part in the history of I55 Raceway.

THANX RICH

People say I'm getting crankier as I get older. That's not it. I just find I enjoy annoying people a lot more now. Especially younger people!!!
 

tspeed

"The Speedster"
I believe the guys name was Clyde Harrelson.......We used to race every Sunday at I-55 or I Slippy Slide as we used to call it....have some stories that I can't tell but one I can.....One Sunday there was a major oil down, all these little tracks had for cleaning up was rice ash and brooms, most of the racer that were left in and "most" of the track personnel were out cleaning up..I said most as Clyde was in the concession stand frying burgers and making cash as it was getting late and there was a line up to the concession stand a mile long..one of the old timers commented that Clyde knew were the money was........taught me a lesson in running a race track, ..lol.....it was a hot and humid place to race, but we sure had a good time.....
 

bryanracing55

New Member
A ton of great times. No dought. Since we are on it here is one of my best times there. When they used to run the 2 day show for the summer nationals a friend of mine and I would get to the track early on Sunday morning to get our spot in line at the gate and spend the morning watching the cars run down below on the drag strip as the stock cars came back for night #2 Boy those were the days. Some realy cool cars ran there back then. I have a nabor that used to race there and we both love to talk about the "old days"
 

99

Active Member
I believe the guys name was Clyde Harrelson.......We used to race every Sunday at I-55 or I Slippy Slide as we used to call it....have some stories that I can't tell but one I can.....One Sunday there was a major oil down, all these little tracks had for cleaning up was rice ash and brooms, most of the racer that were left in and "most" of the track personnel were out cleaning up..I said most as Clyde was in the concession stand frying burgers and making cash as it was getting late and there was a line up to the concession stand a mile long..one of the old timers commented that Clyde knew were the money was........taught me a lesson in running a race track, ..lol.....it was a hot and humid place to race, but we sure had a good time.....
Close on the name...I know exactly who it was but didn't want to name names!!!

THANX RICH
 

crash9

Well-Known Member
drag strip

I grew up on the hill above I-55, at first it was a horse ranch (LK Ranch, for Lisa K. Sago, the owners daughter) The circle track was finished in 1975 which was the year I moved away & started a family life. Don't remember which year the strip was finished, but the flood of the early '70s briefly ruined the track after a couple years running. In the early 90's when the track had been closed for awhile, I asked Carol (Smotherman), then the current owner, if it would be reopened, & she basically said she couldnt open up a "loser". The competition from Gateway, MAR, and Sikeston, possibly others???, and the fact that it was a 1/8 mile track, not a 1/4 miler, was all mentioned. Had alot of good times with binoculars on the trails across horine road! Not to mention half a dozen airplanes mistook it for Festus Airports runway! Brad Almond Sr.
 
Funny and true

My Uncle was one of ther first guys to turn laps around tthe then new dirt track. He worked for Clyde and done alot of the tractor work on the dirt track. One day he decided to take his 68(I think I'm right on the year) dodge pick up out there and try it out. I was told he hit close to 70 mph at one point. Not to shabby for a truck.
 

99

Active Member
Wow rich! You have been around long enough to remember everything!
Don't be saying crap like that around my wife, around her it's selective memory only!!!!

THANX RICH

People say I'm getting crankier as I get older. That's not it. I just find I enjoy annoying people a lot more now. Especially younger people!!!
 

racermc70

Member
shoot i can remember times and i think rich could too of dirt track havin holes big enough to swallow your car. havin four wheels in the air in turns one and two was the norm back in early eighties and remember when sprints and dune buggies ran that track when it first opened.=)
 

bryanracing55

New Member
be kinda cool to see I55 have a reunion of past drivers one weekend or just show off there old cars behind the food stand in turs 3&4 Just an idea
 









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