Save Los Angeles County Raceway!


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By Bob "Stormy" Byrd / Full Throttle News April 2006


Bernie Longjohn kicked off an early 2006 season with the 25th version of LACR's Hangover Nationals. It's a run what you brung Race - BBQ - Get together that spans the gamut from bracket bombers to Jet Dragsters. This year was no exception despite unruly weather.

More over this is a story about So. Cal's "little diamond in the rough". Whoa! What's that Stormy?  Time for your meds.

Legendary people and places are not required by law to be larger than life.

Take the recent passing of music icon Link Ray. Even though he wasn't a house hold name like Elvis, his '59 "Rumble" would change the face of rock & roll forever. (Don't know Ray? you don't know rock & roll)

June 13, 1965 Opening Day, Palmdale 

Ed Roth & The Bushmaster's "Yellow Fang" 

June 27, 1965 Prudhomme redlights in left lane

Let's face it ALL drag strips are measured against Lion's and none can compare. LACR however was cut from the same earth as others in the 50's & 60's...... it just never got polished. Despite not having 30 top fuel cars at its gate every Saturday morning, it held itís own like San Fernando,Fontana, Irwindale.

 Palmdale International Raceway opened it's 4,000' by 70' strip of asphalt  for business in Oct. 1964. The grand opening was held on June 12 & 13 '65 under the management of Scott Franklin. Original plans had included a mile banked oval and seating for 80,000.

Drag Sport Illustrated: Dateline 6-12-65  "Grand Opening"

Palmdale International Raceway: Top Fuel Eliminator Was won by none other than Connie Swingle over George "the Bushmaster" Schriber driving Ed Roth's "Yellow Fang" for the bucks. Gary Gabelich in the Sandoval Bros. car crashed into the guardrail earlier after losing the steering Saturday. Shirley Shahan won Super Stock with hubby H.L tuning.  

A Drag strips "Status" in history can be judged by the resume of black stripes it has bared over the decades.

Palmdale's reads as follows; John Mulligan, The Surfer's, "Flaming" Frank Pedregon,

Jim Nicoll , Connie Swingle , Don Prudhomme , Gas Ronda , Shirley Shahan , Bill Martin , Goob Tuller , George Bolthoff , Dave Uyehara, Marcellus & Borsch ,Bobby Hightower, Hayden Proffitt , George Schriber  , Harrel Amyx , Dale Emery , Paula Murphy , Danny Ongais , Gary Gabelich , Sush Matsubara , Gerry Glenn ,  Harry Payne , Ronnie Martin , Tom Toler and that was  only a sampling at three races , get the point !

Palmdale hosted a number of very successful "Gold Cup" races in the early years and was known for itís excellent traction.

March 20, 1964 Junior Trucker of Lancaster is shown making a run on the test asphalt in Palmdale.


August 7, 1965 Tom Toler in the Childs & Albert AA'FD the "Addict" won Top Fuel

 Around '69 it closed the doors for a short time ,then opened and closed several more times up to about '74 . The mid 70's brought a new name, King's Antelope Valley Raceway under ADRA sanctioning. Primarily a bracket strip, it drew enough from the surrounding area and former "Irwindale" racers to keep it functioning.

Enter one Bernie Longjohn, who had managed Massachusetts only sanctioned track before getting a 71-72 tour of Vietnam courtesy of   Uncle Sam.

Bernie got in the thick of things at Palmdale in the late 70's after a stint running George AFB "High Desert Raceway," by  '79 he had the keys to the place and took over in 1980.

Bernie's bread & butter were still the bracket boys even as he tried to spruce up the place and show.


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