Street Car Insanity At The 2024 Kingdon Airstrip Drags

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.

From modern street machines to old Gassers like Lonny Brasiel’s awesome Chevy, you’ll see virtually everything and anything that’s fast at Kingdon.

Although it was a street car event, and at an airport, there was no shortage of horsepower at Kingdon. Neil Morley’s wild blown Nova has put down just over 2100 rear wheel horsepower on a chassis dyno.

It’s not quite a prepped track, but enough rubber was down that some of the faster cars were able to go wheels up!

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.

Corey Cooper brought his 8-second Nova to Kingdon, only to struggle with traction on radials. As you can see, the surface is definitely more airport than racetrack.

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.

This CTS-V was fairly representative of the “new guard” of cars that are so quick. With just bolt-on’s and a fuel switch to E85, the Caddy was solidly into the 10s.

Bill Spain’s 240Z is motivated by a 2,000 horsepower LS with a single 104mm turbo and is literally one of the quickest small-tire cars in the country. Unfortunately, mechanical issues kept him from reaching the finals, but he was able to make some very fast passes.

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.

George Anderson’s El Camino flies for a small-block! The pump gas Chevy is part of the “old school” crowd at Kingdon, and has clicked off mid to high 10s at the airstrip.

One of the more interesting races from a chassis and suspension tuning standpoint, this match paired an old school leaf-spring Mopar against a quick Mustang. Both cars were running fives in the eighth, and both ran neck-and-neck!

At the end of the day, dual shootouts for a “street car” and “fast” shootout closed out the event. Although there was clearly some fudging going on in the “slow” class, Jeremy Barzan ended up taking the win, while Josh Keene won in the “fast” 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 for more info.

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Jason Sands

Jason Sands has owned everything from an 8-second Nova to rat rods. His claim to fame is setting the Guinness World Record for the fastest speed towing a trailer at 141.998 mph in a diesel-powered GMC Duramax. He's also known to write on occasion.
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