Just a few miles from historic Graceland and the hubbub of Beale Street is the venue now known as Memphis International Raceway (MIR). Although NHRA’s most recent national event at the facility took place in 2009, there certainly hasn’t been a lack of action on the grounds.
Their schedule in 2020 suffered multiple shakeups due to the COVID-19 crisis, but the venue’s original schedule was packed, as usual, with a plethora of events. MIR’s 2020 plans included hosting the ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR, Super Chevy Show, Bracket Series presented by COMP Cams, Great American Bracket Race events, Diesel Motorsports Stillbilly Truck Race, Weekly Test N Tune, Midnight Madness, and IHRA’s Summit SuperSeries World Finals.
Memphis Motorsports Park, as it was formerly known, was founded in 1986. The facility stretched and grew over the years, but developers originally outfitted the 400 acres of land in west Tennessee with a road course, dirt track, go-kart track, and a 1/4-mile drag strip. NHRA drag racing began there in 1988 with the Mid-South Nationals.
That first NHRA event was quite cool. Tony Christian, who was already acclaimed in the Modified class, picked up his first Pro Stock trophy with a final-round defeat of Kenny Delco. His Chevrolet Beretta clocked a 7.51-second pass at 185 mph as Delco slowed at half-track with sparks flying from beneath his Pro Stocker. It was the first of four Pro Stock trophies Christian would claim over the next three years.
Pro Stock racer Jason Line won the final NHRA national event in Memphis in 2009, along with Mike Tueffel (Super Stock), Danny Byrd (Stock), Luke Bogacki (Super Comp), and Jeremy Jenson (Super Gas). In the pro ranks, Morgan Lucas took home the Top Fuel win, victory went to Jeff Arend in Funny Car, and Michael Phillips scored in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Scroll down for a little bit of trivia (and a video).
But wait, before the trivia…. how about the most famous words uttered at the drag strip in Memphis?
You know. Come on, don’t make us say it.
“I saw Elvis at 1,000 feet!” ~ John Force, after a wild crash at the 1992 Memphis Mid-South Nationals
At the inaugural Mid-South Nationals in 1988:
• First win for Earl Datweiler in Top Alcohol Dragster
• Second national event win of three consecutive for Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Don Gay Jr.
• First of four Wallys picked up that season by Comp Eliminator’s David Nickens
• First Super Stock win in 11 years for Elisha Boyd
• Fifth and most recent triumph for Gary Long in Stock
• Fourth of six career Super Gas wins for Mike Mazza
• First and, to date, only Super Comp victory for Darrel Goza
• Other winners at the inaugural event were: Darrell Gwynn (Top Fuel), Mark Oswald (Funny Car), and Terry Vance (Pro Stock Motorcycle)
If you’re keen on YouTube, check this out:
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