- Written by webmin
Drag racing in New England hasn’t always been relegated to Epping, New Hampshire. In fact, the region saw plenty of side-by-side action from the 1950s onward on a number of tracks, many of them repurposed airstrips. One of the longest lived of those tracks was the one at Orange, Massachusetts, where drag racing will return this September after a 40-year absence.
As part of the annual Orange Airport Dragstrip Reunion, which until now has only featured a pre-1974 car show, the new drags will take place on a 1/16th-mile section of abandoned runway at the airport, use a flagman starter, and will be divided into five heads-up classes: Top Eliminator, Street Eliminator, Flathead Eliminator, The Big 4 Banger Shootout, and Exhibition Only. Just 400 entries total will be accepted for the racing portion of the reunion. The car show portion of the reunion will continue.
According to Bernie Shuman’s “Cool Cars, Square Roll Bars,” the Orange Airport drags first took place July 18, 1954, when the Massachusetts Automotive Council – after three years of wrangling with local authorities – received permission to use the airport for “acceleration trials”; they apparently were restricted from calling the drags an actual “race.” Attendance didn’t really pick up at the Orange drags until the NHRA Safety Safari came through town in August 1955 and the following coverage in Hot Rod magazine alerted New Englanders to the presence of the Orange drags. That was the same year the MAC gave way to the New England Timing Association, which ran the drags until the end of racing at Orange in 1970.