For decades, Detroit and drag racing went hand-in-hand. The Motor City made cars and people raced them. As the city boomed, the racing scene followed suit.
Funded by proceeds raised by Detroit’s Autorama, Motor City Dragway sprang from soil in the late 1950s to become Michigan’s first purpose-built paved strip. On into the ’60s, muscle cars street-raced down Woodward Avenue and “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!” fizzled from FM radios advertising the Detroit Dragway, another Michigan strip and staple on the National Hot Rod Association tour. Manufacturers like Chrysler funded skunkworks teams like the “Ramchargers” to develop production car tech on the track. Other auto workers simply punched out at five and went to work on their personal race cars.
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From Great Lakes Dragaway up in Union Grove, out to Byron Speedway, down to Route 88 in Sterling, back east to Oswego and Route 66, a stop at US 30 in Hobart and a hundred run-what-ya-brung not so legal tracks in between, the summers of the mid/late 60's were spent twisting wrenches and scrounging parts in our trying to run with the big dogs. A handful of cheap trophies and a ton of memories are all that is left of those Chicago area summers. Wouldn't trade them for anything.
The original Ramchargers were not a "Chrysler funded skunk works team". Check out the website and you will find that they were instead a collection of very young and talented Chrysler engineers. Their first drag car "The High and Mighty" was entirely bought, paid for and wrenched on by that same group of guys. The build shop was a members garage and engineering sessions were in someone's front room. There are rumors of some creative acquisitions at the Chrysler surplus yard but no sponsorship. Check out the High and the Mighty on YouTube.
Great memories of time spent at Detroit Dragway in the late '70s, my big brother Dave Johnston bracket raced several cars over the years at Detroit and other local tracks. He raced various cars there over the years, Plymouth Satellite, fiberglass bodied ex-funny car, Monza bodied tube frame car. I remember watching Shirley Muldowney race her top fuel dragster on a pro race weekend at Detroit, also the Detroit Tiger Monza funny car. The smell of tire smoke and race fuel!
To see the Gassers and Nostalgia drag racer photos from last weekend at Milan Dragway, search Facebook for "Great Lakes Gassers". You will find a few hundred photos including the two featured here above! Terry (Lucky's Photos)
Cameron Neveu, I became a fan of yours when I saw Murray Pfaff's 59 Imperial. This series again confirms your special skills with eye and camera. I am very happy to be able to see your stuff on Hagerty. Your compositions and perspective in catching the rolling artwork in motion is truly special.. Thank you. It doesn't hurt that back in the mid/late-60s I was roaring down Milan Dragway in my stock Mopars. jsmarsh. jsmarshphoto.com