Drag Strips in Youngstown, Ohio

January 29th, 2022 by

The excitement of a live professional drag race is unparalleled. Take two highly engineered race cars or motorcycles, put them side-by-side on a quarter-mile strip of asphalt, give them the “go” signal — and let’s see who is faster. It’s loud, it’s dusty, but it’s also a lot of fun for people who watch live. In the Youngstown, Ohio, area, you have several options for experiencing the thrill of drag racing. Here’s where to go for the danger and the spectacle.

History of Drag Racing

drag racing in youngstown ohio

Image via Flickr by SFB579 Namaste

Drag racing has a rich history that goes back to the Great Depression. According to a PBS documentary, races first started in dry lake beds in California. It was a way to test continued evolution in auto technology, as cars would routinely reach more than 100 mph. 

It wasn’t until the early 1950s that racing became organized as a hobby and a sport. Wally Parks founded the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) in 1951. Professional competition was hot and heavy within the decade.

Dragway 42

9161 Rainbow Highway, West Salem, Ohio 44287

Phone: (419) 853-4242

About 80 miles straight west from Youngstown, Dragway 42 has hosted drag racing in the Ohio area dating back to 1957. Dragway features a quarter-mile-long track made of concrete and asphalt. The track hosts races in most months except December, but the season launches in April and runs through mid-November. 

Besides drag racing, Dragway also hosts autocross racing, tractor and truck pulling, and concerts/music festivals. If you are coming as a spectator, you will get to experience the echoes of great racing. Dragway 42 offers amphitheater-style seating featuring seats from the famed Daytona International Speedway.

In the summer, Dragway 42 has hosted the “Rock n Race” festival with music, car shows, a swap meet, and fun runs. To get to Dragway 42, take Interstate 76 due west past Akron, then south on U.S. Highway 42.

Quaker City Motor Sports

10225 West South Range Rd., Salem, Ohio 44460 

Phone: 330-771-1534

Featuring a quarter-mile asphalt track with more than 2,000 feet of shutdown area, Quaker City Motor Sports is a half-hour from downtown Youngstown at the intersection of U.S. Highway 62 and Ohio Route 165. Quaker City offers pit spots for up to 300 cars and seats 5,000 in its metal grandstands.

One of Quaker City’s newest attractions is a newly renovated finish tower, which can be rented for special events. You will also want to check out the souvenir store for an item to remember your time at Quaker City. Racing takes place at the track from April to September. The track hosts several special events, such as the summer nationals.

Edgewater Sports Park

4819 E. Miami River Road, Cleves, Ohio 45002

Phone: (513) 353-4666

If you have the itch to see some championship racing, it will take a bit of a drive. But it will be worth it. Edgewater Sports Park in Cleves, Ohio, goes by the name “The Race Place in Cincinnati.” It is located on the banks of the Great Miami River, just west of Cincinnati.

Edgewater has been home to drag racing for over 60 years, having organized its first races in 1958. It is a certified championship NHRA course and has hosted some of the most accomplished drag racers in American history. Races currently take place on its one-eighth-mile and quarter-mile asphalt tracks. Pits are open to enable fans to meet and talk to the racers and watch the racing live. Trackside seating is also available.

Activity of some type takes place year-round, and the track also hosts special events such as concerts. You can reach Edgewater via Interstate 71 South, but it is a 300-mile journey, so plan for overnight accommodations.

Bull Run Raceway

46696 State Route 154 Rogers, OH 44455

Phone: (330) 692-3433

Heading straight south out of Youngstown for about a half-hour, you can experience a different type of drag racing. Bull Run Raceway maintains a 300-foot sand drag track that includes a 1,000-foot shutdown area. The shutdown area is at a 3% grade after about 375 feet to make it even more challenging. 

To keep things interesting, Bull Run Raceway also offers uphill drag races, a unique and extra-exciting experience for racing spectators. Like many other tracks, Bull Run is a multi-purpose facility, also offering an outdoor music venue for concerts. You will choose between lawn seating or covered bleachers to watch the show. The track also has a concession area and a site for “real” camping.

Bull Run is just a few minutes off Route 7 south of Youngstown, just outside the town of Rogers. Take Interstate 680 South out of Youngstown until you reach Route 7.

Thompson Raceway Park

8233 Sidley Rd., Thompson, OH, 44086

Phone: (440) 298-1350

Your adventure in search of nearby drag racing is incomplete without considering Thompson Raceway Park. Proudly proclaimed as “Ohio’s Thunder Capital,” Thompson Raceway Park is one of the nation’s first drag strips and the first drag race track in all of Ohio. The track first opened in 1958 and proudly notes on its website that it hosted and helped boost the careers of drivers Don Garlits and “T.V.” Tommy Ivo, who became drag racing legends. 

Thompson Raceway Park is about an hour’s drive from Youngstown to the northwest, on the outskirts of Cleveland. Follow Ohio Route 11 North to U.S. Highway 6 north to the track. 

Professional drag racing pits drivers of highly engineered vehicles against each other, side-by-side, on a standard race track. Using our list, you can experience the thrills of drag racing live in the Youngstown area. Now we would like to hear from you. What do you enjoy about drag racing as a spectator? What drag racing strips have we forgotten? Leave us a message, and we will add it to our list. The team at Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC would love to hear from you and has a lot of fun sharing places for you to check out in the Youngstown community.