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Words by Chris Martin
Photos by Jeff Burk

s anyone remotely interested in drag racing can tell you, the Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, is one of the most important drag race emporiums ever built. I’m willing to admit that saluting anniversaries of any type usually work better and sound more legitimate in 25-year increments. The 25th Silver Anniversary U.S. Nationals in 1979, the 50th Golden Anniversary of the same race in 2004 are examples that readily come to mind.

Bernstein and Prudhomme face off at the Motorplex.

For me, race tracks are a little different. Cordova Dragway Park in Cordova, IL, recently celebrated an unprecedented 50th anniversary, but most tracks don’t make it that far. The first drag strip in Santa Ana, CA, lasted only 9 years, Lions made it to age 17, San Fernando was done in 14 years, so the Texas Motorplex turning 20 is a fairly big deal …but, in this case, longevity has really very little to with its status.

The Texas Motorplex was stunning at birth and just kept getting better for the most part. In my view of drag racing history, there are just three other tracks that pointed the way to the future (cosmetically and performance-wise) as did the Motorplex--Santa Ana, Indianapolis Raceway Park, and Orange County International Raceway.

We all know why Santa Ana is on the list as well as IRP. The Indianapolis facility opened in 1961 and was probably the first, if primitive, “Raceway Park-type” facility. Orange County was the complete package. A three-story glass encased tower, permanent concession stands and bathrooms, almost totally paved pits, top end scoreboards, and lawns and trees all about the facility. Using 20-20 historical hindsight, the Texas Motorplex probably topped these three combined.

Billy Meyer launch


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