Remembering . . .


Drag Strips

Hustler's Dragway, Glendive. Photographer unknown


  • Conrad Airport, 1962
I started my drag racing days in Conrad, Montana, in 1962.

Dennis Heppner


  • Lewistown Raceway, 1980-81
I raced in the ET division with my 454 Chevy truck for the 1980 and 1981 seasons. My best finish was runner-up in '81. MybBest et was 16.02 .My father, Richard Hitchcock, raced with, my uncle, Dick Erlandson, in the '50s and early '60s before qutting to be a family man/rancher near Denton. Many memories of Uncle Dick racing Novas and Spevacek with his funny car. Lewistown is the longest continuously-running drag strip in Montana.  My uncle, Dick Erlandson, is the patriarch of that raceway.

Jason Hitchcock


  • Mineral County Airport/Missoula Timing Association Drag Strip, 1965-66
I was born and raised in Missoula, Montana, a long time ago.  I was a junior in High School when the drag strip at Superior started up in the mid-sixties.  My brother and my best friend and myself went to every race we could afford during the summers of 1965 and 1966.  I missed the rest of them – the US Army is stuffy about its soldiers taking summers off to go drag racing in Montana. As it happens, we were at Superior when that butthead pilot pulled his little stunt.  Now, you have to picture Superior.  The town itself sits in a glacial valley that is at best half a mile across with really big-assed mountains running down each side and a really big-assed river running through the whole show.  The airport itself sat south of the town in an even narrower part of the valley.  It was at best an emergency stop.  It has a river at the west end, the old highway running about 200 yards to the south where Interstate 90 runs now, the river making a loop back around to the east end, and of course, the aforementioned big-assed mountains to the north and south.  In short, not a favorable place for an airport, but a great place for a drag strip. The best approach was from the west.  Clear the river and touch down at the extreme western end of the runway – which, by the way, was where the pit, the timing lights and starting line were situated with races running from west to east.  However, from the airstrip, it’s hard to see an approaching plane because the landscape drops down from west to east.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but no one saw him coming, nor could they have.  He, however, could have and would have seen the entire setup as he made his final approach.  Common sense would have suggested to him that he make a pass around the area to let everyone know he was there and trying to land.  But he didn’t, opting instead to ignore the goings-on below him and land on top of everything.  Anyway, that was a long time ago in a valley far, far away.  But I still think he was a butthead. Apart from that, my memories of the two summers we spent up there are good ones. I remember a guy from Missoula who had a ’65 Ford Galaxy with a 427 who pretty much was king of the hill unless the guy from Deer Park over by Spokane came to race bringing his ’65 Dodge 426 Hemi altered wheelbase funny car.  He had those flexible side-wall slicks and I can still picture how they would sort of fold up when he punched it.  They looked like snail shells.  And of course, then it was a matter of the King is dead, long live the King. I remember the grudge race between Harry something-or-other, a really bad mechanic at the Yamaha dealership in Missoula, and Danny something-or-other, the owner of the Honda Dealership in Missoula.  Harry showed up with a fully tricked-out Yamaha 250cc YDS2 and Danny showed up with a fairly stock Honda 305.  Needless to say, the Yamaha – a 2-cycle – cleaned up the Honda.  For the rest of my days in Missoula, my buddy and I argued almost to the point of violence over which was faster.  I rode a Yamaha YDS2 and he rode a Honda 250 Scrambler. I remember when an acquaintance of mine brought a ’65 Mustang 2+2 fastback with a dealer-transplant high-performance 289 up and got his butt kicked by the 427 Galaxy.  There just ain’t no substitute for cubic inches.  Although in all fairness, the Mustang did pretty well against most other cars. Somewhere I have a bunch of slides I took up there, including one I took standing right behind a blown Hemi rail job just as he dropped the hammer.  You can just see the wisps of smoke starting to come off the slicks.  My favorite drag racing picture. I miss those days.

Robert Graham
Boise, Idaho