Flashback Friday: Texas’ First NHRA-Sanctioned Drag Strip
During our weekly adventures back in time on Flashback Friday, we’ve visited a host of early dragstrips that once populated the great state of Texas. But among all the straight stretches of blacktop both past and present in the nation’s largest state, just which one was the first? By all accounts, that honor belongs to a strip simply known as Caddo Mills.
The small town of Caddo Mills, located a short drive from the Dallas and Fort Worth metro area, was the site of a military airstrip that was used during World War II. At the conclusion of the war, like many such strips around the country, became abandoned or used rather infrequently, setting the stage for a hot rodding takeover.
In the early 1950’s, the Chaparral Roadster Club based in Dallas, one of the most well-regarded clubs in the state at the time, proposed the idea of conducting drag races on the old strip and began working with city officials to make it happen. With the blessing the local police department to do so, the stage was set for organized drag racing in Texas.
And so in 1951, during the literal birth stages of our sport, drag racing commenced on the old non-operational airstrip in Caddo Mills. The first race was held on August 19 with 56 cars competing before a crowd estimated in the thousands. Races were held on the first Sunday of each month and were timed using three handheld stopwatches. A few years later, other local car clubs formed the North Texas Timing Association and assumed the role of conducting and officiating the races at Caddo Mills in conjunction with NHRA members and officials. It was during this time the club acquired a legitimate Chrondek electronic timing system. The entry fee to race was fixed at one dollar.
Racing eventually ceased at the old airstrip, but it didn’t leave Caddo Mills. Today, races are held at the purpose-built eighth-mile Redline Raceway located just a couple miles from the old airstrip site.