Before we had palatial places to race like North Carolina’s zMax Dragway and track prep so sticky it would rip the bottoms off your shoes, drag races were held on tiny strips of pavement that might get swept off on a good day. The Eagle Field Runway Drags are a straight throwback to how drag racing was when its roots first took hold in the United States and provides a glimpse into a past that many have never seen.
The Eagle Field Drags have been held for 10 years at the Eagle Field airstrip in Firebaugh, California that is part of the World War II museum on the property. These races are used to help keep the museum going while giving racers and fans the opportunity to relive the early years of drag racing. Race promoter Rocky Phillips has gone to great lengths to give the Eagle Field Runway Drags a true nostalgic feel from the classes that race to the full eighth-mile smoke shows.
Eagle Field was an active military facility during the 1940s. When racers and fans enter the facility they see the massive main hanger along with all the other World War II-era vehicles. The two-day event begins on Saturday with a flag starts and heads-up racing all day. Wandering through the pits you’ll find plenty of period-correct racecars along with many other classic rides. Saturday’s festivities end with the track lined with nostalgia nitro cars singing their song of horsepower under the cover of darkness.
Racing on Sunday is slightly more modern with a Christmas Tree being erected to start all of the races, along with a timing system being added to the course. The runway also gets a little bit of track prep to help the Top Eliminator cars get some traction, which this year led to the first ever four-second pass on a surface that’s equivalent to a dusty parking lot.
Dimitri Lazaris participates in the Eagle Field Runway Drags behind the wheel of a front engine dragster known as “The Antique Doll.” He loves this event because it gives him the opportunity to experience the glory days of drag racing in modern times.
“Our rail loves this track — I get enough traction to bring the front wheels up and I get to experience the rear end slipping around under me. I run a lot slower on this track since I don’t hook as much, but that’s not what Eagle Field is about. It’s not about breaking a speed or time record, or even winning to me. Eagle Field is about experiencing the good ol’ days. It’s the only way to experience the early days of drag racing and if you have a vintage race car, or you’re building a hot rod now that may see some track time, I highly encourage putting this on your bucket list.”
Check out the amazing images that our own Nicole James captured at the Eagle Field Runway Drags.