Complete Remodeling Group

Auto Club Raceway

A quarter-mile dragstrip may be found at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, better known as Pomona Raceway, in Pomona, CA area. The Winternationals, the NHRA’s customary season opener, has been held at the dragstrip every year since it first opened in 1961, and the NHRA Finals have been held there every year since 1984. Those two things have helped make it one of the most well-known dragstrips in North America. It’s one of the few NHRA-owned and -operated dragstrips in the United States, and it can fit 40,000 spectators. Located at the Fairplex, previously the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, this dragstrip has also been known by the name The Fairplex.

As early as 1952, an automobile club called the “Choppers of Pomona,” with the help of a young police officer named Sergeant Bud Coons, pushed for the establishment of a safe haven for local drag racers. A group led by Coons and including fellow hot rod enthusiast Pomona Police Chief Ralph Parker and the Pomona city government approached the LA County Fairgrounds about leasing the parking lot. By presenting figures showing a significant drop in fatalities among children when provided a supervised area to race, Coons and Parker were key in persuading the county to approve the use of the fairgrounds for the race. Ultimately, the county gave yes, but only on the condition that the hot rodders pay for their own insurance out of the gate money they collected. [2]

The parking area was just a gravel lot when the county signed the agreement. Donations were collected, and the lot was paved thanks to the efforts of a group that included hot rodders, law enforcement, and prominent members of the local community. In Pomona, this event marked the beginning of the dragstrip.

The first National Hot Rod Association event, the Southern California Championships, was held at this dragstrip during a weekend in April 1953. On Saturday, there were reportedly 2,000 or 3,000 people in attendance, but on Sunday, reports estimated 15,000 people showed up. The best ET that day was a respectable 10.93 seconds, which is a long way from the 3.9-second marks that the pros are currently putting up on the board. 

Pomona Raceway hosted the inaugural NHRA Winternationals the same year. It was the NHRA’s second major competition overall. The U.S. Nationals, often called the Big-Go, were the first NHRA national event. The Winternationals were dubbed “Big-Go West” as a result. Since then, it has stayed put here. Chief Auto Parts, then its successor AutoZone, then CSK Automotive, and finally the current sponsor, O’Reilly Auto Parts, have all taken turns to underwrite this annual event over the years.

Kellogg House
Complete Remodeling Group

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