Words by Chris Martin
Photos by Jeff Burk
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
Bernstein and Prudhomme face off at
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