Old School Drags Brings New School Interest to Eagle Field

The drag races we have every May and October have worked out very well and the monies earned are going into Eagle Field projects. It has not worked out perfectly, as we have had some lousy rain at some of the races, meaning attendance was way down. And, we had to spend a lot of money upfront to repair the runway for drag cars (Which is also good for airplanes!). We also had to purchased grandstands, which required a total overhaul in order for them to be safe, therefore we have not put much money in the bank as of yet. But, it is very promising and we did make some money on the most recent race.

Rocky Phillips, of Fresno, is the primary person responsible for bringing the races to Eagle Field. They are like races of the fifties and early sixties, and it really takes you back in time to see the old 32 Ford type hotrods blazing down the runway. For safety purposes we keep to the speeds down a bit by running only an eight of a mile track, versus the quarter mile they do at larger venues. Our intent is to keep the races smallish and simple, as we are not trying to compete with the big boys. Of all the hundreds of drag races held throughout the USA every year, we are proud to say that Hot Rod Magazine, the bible of hot rod folks, chose to feature the Eagle Field Drags in some of their issues.

We just had the May 19/20 races, which were very well organized, the weather was perfect, mostly the cars were old school and there was a lot of down home fun to be had! And, we got the first chance to use our newly rebuilt and very comfortable grandstands. The rebuilding of these grandstands was a major undertaking by mostly drag race volunteers. If we ever have a real airshow at Eagle, these stands will be perfect.

On Saturday we had our flamboyant flagman starter, with the old school racing concept of seeing  who could get to the finish line first, with no timing….just whoever finished first was the winner. On Sunday we had the more modern “Christmas Tree” starter, with lights to indicate GO, and there was timing in place for elapsed time and speed. There must have been sixty to eighty RVs, lots of pop up tents along the raceway and many different kinds of food. There was a very festive and fair-like atmosphere, with the music of racing motors in the background.

It takes a lot of volunteers make these races happen, and Rocky brings in his merry band to set up the concrete safety barriers, to put up the hundreds of delineators, to get spectators in the gate, to get the cars parked, to do the safety tech inspections and to handle getting the race cars up to the starting line to run, safely off the track and then back around to run again. Of course, some of the Eagle Field volunteers assure that the grounds are prepared; they help with race car registration and keep the place clean. Once the races are over everything must be put away, so it is a very big job, everyone is wiped out afterwards, but it’s all fun nonetheless.

We had American Ambulance on hand, and Mark Jones and the rest of the Eagle Field firefighter crew did an excellent job responding to a car fire on Sunday the 20th. Both fire engines were on the fire very quickly and saved the car from burning to the ground. After trying to get his fire extinguisher to work, the driver bailed out of the car unscathed. The crowd took up a sizable collection to help pay for repairs to the car….pretty heartwarming to see.

We have noticed that the race car folks are very interested in the military history of Eagle Field and it is nice to see the race fans fill the museum during these events, and to see them taking pictures of their race cars taken in front of the old Harpoon, the Stuart Tank, the Huey and other artifacts.

We wish to thank the volunteers, who helped with the races, and I must stress that these races could not happen without them, they are the backbone to our success. We wish to give a special thanks to Keith Blades of Fresno, owner of KBK, for the seemingly magical dust control material he donates and applies to our fine-particle clay soil to keep the place pretty much dust-free during events. Keith continues to help us with dust control for both the races and our fly-in, and without his support we could not afford this high level of dust control. Keith himself comes out to supervise the application of the non-petrol based material, he puts it on heavy and it is very effective.

Last but not least, we had a two showings of “Duece of Spades”, an American Graffiti type film produced, directed and acted in by Faith Granger. This lady put together a darn good film, which featured some of the hotrod legends. She is currently touring the USA with her RV and a genuine 32 Ford Hotrod.