Thrill seekers and speed demons will undoubtedly enjoy a day of racing at the Amarillo Dragway. Located at 12955 Burlington Rd, Amarillo, TX 79118 in southeast Amarillo, this arena features a paved drag strip that stretches ¼ of a mile long. This motorsports venue has been representing and serving the Amarillo community since the 1960s.
Local Amarillo racer Earnest Walker came up with the idea for the dragstrip before meeting Dale Hamm, a man who was soon to be voted as the National Hot Rod Association’s California division director. After becoming acquainted with Hamm, Walker expressed his idea of opening a drag way in the area, so the pair got to work and opened Amarillo Dragway. This information was obtained from a Transcript published by Texas Tech University’s Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.
In 1986, the dragway was purchased by Bill Hielscher who, in conjunction with Wayne Meinert, founded the American Road Rally Association. Bill Hielscher was a drag racing legend. He is somewhat of a American Hot Rod Association hall of famer holding a handful of records and being placed in the fourth division of the National Hot Rod Association’s Hall of Fame.
The racetrack would prove successful over the years attracting tons of national attention. Various big time races were held at the track and racers such as Eddie Hill, Dickie Harrell, and Bobby Langly were some of the first to call it home. It is the International Hot Rod Association’s 95th sanctioned track and was determined as such in 2004 after being purchased by Norman and Cathy Henson.
Tragedy struck the venue in 1968 on Sunday, June 23rd during a drag race meeting. Julia Archuleta was sitting atop the hood of a vehicle watching the race among thousands of other spectators when a Cessna 172 was caught in a crosswind that caused it to crash on the car Miss. Archuleta was reclining on. Her fiance whom she was supposed to marry the next weekend, along with two others came out with minor injuries.
Despite the horrific event, the drag racing venue prospered and went on to host numerous World Finals and World Nationals NHRA sponsored races. The track was resold a number of times and is currently owned by Mike, Kelly, and Steve Lamberson as well as Larry and Val Dutcher and their children. Father Mike Lamberson and his son Steve put the race track through a number of renovations after they bought it in 2011. Both men are racers themselves and have a history with the dragway. They newly constructed a concession stand, score board, and permanent bathrooms in a building. In a news interview, Steven said on a normal race weekend there will be about 120 cars along with 500 spectators at each race, but during special racing events, they can expect 200 cars and an additional 1,000 spectators.
The venue hosts events from the month of March through the month of September. For a detailed schedule, visit their website. You can also check out their bracket series details as well as points standings through their website if interested. If you’re wanting to participate in a drag race, make sure you take a look over their list of rules also posted on their website.
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