Flashback Friday: Maryland’s First Dedicated Drag Strip
As with any publication or web forum where the discussion comes up, our weekly look back at some of the abandoned quarter miles of drag racing has been quite the hit, and this week our journey takes us to the East coast, right in the heart of our nation’s capitol to the Aquasco Speedway in Aquasco, Maryland.
Alfonso and Rose Procopio opened the Aquasco facility, built on 188 acres of land on May 25, 1957. Prior to its opening, the state of Maryland boasted zero dedicated dragstrips, making Aqausco a true destination for hot rodders at the time and what was considered to be a pioneering effort in the region. Within a decade of its opening, the DC Metro area contained nearly 20 dragstrips within a two-hour drive of the capitol. If this fact doesn’t give you an idea of just how many quarter mile strips once roamed the earth, nothing will.
Despite all of the facilities in the area, Aquasco remained a destination that attracted some of the biggest names in the sport, including Garlits, Ivo, Muldowney, Prudhomme, Kalitta, Jungle Jim, Dick Landy, Don Schumacher, and even Richard Petty during his short straight-line tenure in 1965. Hall of Famer Malcolm Durham got his start at Aquasco and considered it his home track.
Originally sanctioned by local car clubs as many strips during the sports infancy were, the track switched to AHRA sanctioning around 1960 and played host to the AHRA Summer Nationals for one season in ’64. The very next year however, Aqausco followed several other area strips to the NHRA fold.
In recent years, one of the last few remaining tracks in the state of Maryland, the Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek, has hosted the Presidents Cup under IHRA sanction. But Aquasco was in fact the original site of the storied event, featuring top fuelers, gassers, and stock class racers from around the country. In the late 70’s, the track was leased to a couple of gentleman, Tod Mack and Larry Clayton. Their tenure would be short lived though, as in 1978, Price Georges County got their way to shut the track down by way of “environmental” justification. The land was kept and used for various activities throughout the 80’s and 90’s and was sold in 2002. To date however, the dragstrip and it’s structures have never been demolished, just sitting there weathering the elements on Route 381 just 20 miles south of Washington, DC.
The website Atomic Pinup has a section dedicated to Aquasco Speedway containing a wealth of information and timeless photos and documents, so be sure to head over and check it out.