Flashback Friday: The “Nightcrawlers” Ames Dragstrip
Flashback Friday is back with another of the bottomless pit of abandoned race tracks, and this latest find is a rather impressive one. Because any time you have a dragstrip with 60 feet of asphalt and the rest is dirt, you know you’ve got old school drag racing at its finest on your hands. And that’s exactly what the long-since shuttered Ames Dragstrip was in the early years of its existence.
Located on the south side of the town of Ames, Iowa on Highway 69 and facing east toward the Skunk River, the Ames Dragstrip was operated by a car club of high school and college-aged gearheads known as the Nightcrawlers.” Like virtually all dragstrips of the early and mid 1950’s, Ames was intended to give throttle-happy youth in the Ames area a safe place to race their cars, rather than taking care of matters on Main Street.
Races were held every Sunday during the summer, with time trials beginning at 10 A.M. and eliminations kicking off at 2 P.M., and all rules and regulations were outlined by the national headquarters of the Automobile Timing Association of America. The track operated financially on its back gate receipts, and in early 1958, with the help of local business establishments, the Nightcrawlers added 200 feet of concrete to the existing 60 feet, with hopes of one day having a fully paved quarter mile.
Despite being primarily dirt and rather primitive even for the time, Ames had full electronic timers and took safety seriously, with the racetrack fully fenced in to keep spectators away from the speeding vehicles. To read more on the Ames Dragstrip courtesy of a June 1958 article published in the Ames Tribune, click over to Ames Historical Society.