Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Westhampton Drag Strip, Yesterday & Today

Billy Stein and Ed Talerine
in my '50 Merc at the entrance to
Westhampton Drag Strip, in 1961.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, anyone with a
hot rod or custom car on Long Island
headed to a drag strip at Westhampton
most Sundays.
This was a 1/4 mile track where cars raced
in classes outlined by the
type and weight of the car, size of engine,
and extent of modifications overall.
Two cars at a time started from a
standing stop and those with the
lowest elapsed time won each "run".
By a process of elimination, one car
each class would emerge the final winner.
I shot the following photos
during the early to mid 1960s.
(Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

The Dodge above ran with a
471 cubic inch engine and
turned 112 M.P.H.
during its run
for "Street Eliminator" trophy.

The white '59 Chevy was a
constant winner at 'Hampton
as evidenced by the numerous
"kill" decals on the rear quarter glass.

'47 Ford convert (above)
had a late model Buick OHV 8 engine;
belonged to one of my friends
from the 116th Street garages.

1955 Ford from another of the guys
at 116th Street,
photographed on Sunrise Highway
along the way to the strip.

I recently ventured back to the site
of the
Westhampton Drag Strip on a rainy weekday
and found that Timber Ridge Homes has
built a housing development on the site.

A gated community portal replaces
the old entrance to the drag strip.

The homes on the left are
about where the pit area and stands used to be;
the street in the middle is
about where the drag strip once was.

The area on the left being cleared
for more homes is about where the
spectators' parking lot and stands once stood;
the new road is about where the
drivers once returned after a race
on the "return road."

(Any comments on the old drag strip?
...Or its replacement?)