Flashback Friday: Dallas International Motor Speedway
In the 1960’s and 70’s, when drag strips were in abundance all across the nation, no facility was immune to finding itself on the chopping block to make way for shopping malls and housing units. Not even the most elite of them. Such was the case for the Dallas International Motor Speedway, which opened in June of 1969.
This modern super track seemed destined for a long, bright future in one of America’s largest markets. The first event contested at the new strip was the NHRA Springnationals in 1969, and interestingly, the pit area was still being paved when time trials began on the Friday afternoon of the event. The facility experienced a rather tumultuous grand opening that weekend however, as Funny Car driver Gerry Schwartz was killed in a tragic mid-track collision with Pat Foster.
The track forged ahead, as the NHRA awarded them two of the four national events that existed at the time, the Springnationals and World Finals. A 2.5 mile road course was constructed for SCCA events, and later, a quarter mile dirt track was added for motorcycle racing. NASCAR and IndyCar were both taken into consideration, but deemed to be too costly to bring in.
While visions existed of a “speed city” in which land around the track would be turned into offices and facilities to house race teams and organizations, none of it came to fruition. In 1970, weather wreaked havoc on the financial state of the track, as several events were rained out, in addition to a flood that spelled disaster for the future of such a promising venue. Track management sought financial assistance from the NHRA and was denied, while at the same time, unhappy neighbors voiced their concern over noise and heavy traffic, pressuring the Lewisville City Council into setting a 10PM curfew.
In October of 1971, a Dallas TV news reporter riding along with Art Arfons in his “Super Cyclops” jet dragster was killed in a top end crash, along with two spectators. Carrying a tremendous amount of debt, the track switched to the new IHRA sanction in 1971, where only 25% of the gate fee was required rather than 50%. However, this measure did little to correct the financial despair of the facility, and in 1973, Dallas International Motor Speedway declared bankruptcy and closed its gates forever. the Xerox company purchased the land for a new facility that was never built, and in the early 90’s, the tower came down and cattle grazed the land. The property now houses a retail shopping complex and a Honda car dealership, without a single trace of the existence of a once promising and state-of-the-art racing complex.