The idea of airport drag racing isn’t new, and in fact the Kingdon Drags, located on a small airfield in the Central California town of Lodi, were some of the first, as Kingdon has hosted drag racing events since the early ’50s. Don Garlits even ran his Swamp Rat dragster there in 1959. After decades of being converted back into an airport during the latter part of the 20th century, the Kingdon Drags returned in the early 2000s and have been going strong ever since.
The main point of Kingdon is to bring a street racing vibe to a legal event, which means water-only burnouts, arm drop starts, and no displayed times. There’s also a wide airstrip surface with a good runoff on either side in case things get wild. The definition of a street car at Kingdon is … pretty loose. Turbos count as mufflers, and slicks are the tire of choice, in order to give the 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower cars some chance at traction.
After a foggy New Years morning (the event is held on the first), things got started off quick with some grudge racing. One thing that makes Kingdon different than other airport drags is the fact that racers can run a full 1/4-mile if they want, as there is plenty of shutdown at the end, even for 7- and 8-second cars. You’ll find as interesting and diverse a car count at Kingdon as anywhere in the country, with much of the racers split between old-school muscle like19’70s Mopars, Nova Gassers, and big-block Camaros, and newer rides like Corvettes, CTS-V’s, and Coyote-powered Mustangs.
After a few hours of grudge racing there was a big shootout that was split into two classes: 10.60 and slower (in the quarter) and sub-10.60 cars. With a full 16-car field even in the sub 8.60 class, the action was non-stop, as there were cars rolling into tire smoke at half track, and wheelstands at the line, and one Mustang that got loose at the 1/8-mile and went out into the field. When the dust settled, it was Jeremy Barzan’s immaculate Chevelle that took the win in the 10.60-and-over class, while Josh Keene’s turbo Camaro waded through a field of heavy hitters and ended up the surprise winner of the 10.60-and-quicker class.
While Kingdon is still a working airport, California racers will be happy to know they already have two more race dates, including another street car shootout in April, and nostalgia drags where nitro lights up the night in September. It’s joked that everything old is new again, and Kingdon is definitely a place where you can feel the magic of 1950s and ’60s drag racing with a 2024 street car twist. So, check off your calendars for a race date later this year, as Kingdon is one event you don’t want to miss. Check out Kingdondrags.com for more info.