On this Christmas edition of Flashback Friday, our travels take us clear down to the Gulf Coast to Biloxi, Mississippi, where more than four decades ago, a quarter mile known affectionately as the Biloxi Dragway once hosted a virtual who’s-who of legendary and hall of fame drag racers on its long-gone quarter mile strip.
Biloxi Dragway, located between what is now Hudson Krohn Rd. and Old MS 67, just outside Woolmarket, opened for business in 1957 and operated through July 1, 1967, when the land owner refused to renew the lease for the facility. Biloxi Dragway held its final event that evening, awarding $1,50 in cash and 3 foot trophies to all class winners. Between those eleven years, however, Biloxi Dragway put itself on the national map thanks to frequent visit by some of the legends of the sport.
In 1960, “Big Daddy” Don Garlits ran his very first Swamp Rat in Biloxi, and that same year, Tommy Ivo and Don Prodhomme competed for Top Eliminator there, with a best speed of 160 MPH. In October of that year, Art Arfons brought his gargantuan “Green Monster” jet car to Biloxi, running a best of 164.37 MPH.
In ’61, “The Golden Greek” Chris Karamesines arrived to challenge Garlits’ track record, doing so with an 8.84-second lap, and by ’66, the record had fallen to a 7.75 at more than 200 MPH, set by Art Malone. Sonny Atkins in the “Tennessee Bo-Weevil” dragster reset that mark at 7.71 in the latter part of the ’66 season.
Among those names that wow’ed fans at the Biloxi Dragway includes the likes of Arnie Beswick, Bill “Maverick’ Golden, Connie Kalita, Dickie Harrell, “Dyno Don” Nicholson, Doug Nash, Ronnie Sox, Leonard Hughes, Hubert Platt, and and many, many others.
While many dragstrips of this era lacked any form of safety measures between the race cars and the fans, Biloxi was widely considered as up-to-date as a strip could be at that time, including electronic timing in the early 1960’s and lighting for night races when needed. Many of the popular Gasser events held there would draw in as many as 200 entrants.
For more on the history of the Biloxi Dragway, including a large number of photos and video, be sure and visit biloxidragway.com.