2018-07-11 / News

Lapeer International Dragway marks 50th anniversary with racing

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Nick Paul was all smiles as he waited to try his 6 ½ horsepower Sixth Sense Mini bike at Lapeer International Dragway on July 4. The 14-year-old youth, who’s been racing four years already, came from Clinton Township to test his mettle. Nick Paul was all smiles as he waited to try his 6 ½ horsepower Sixth Sense Mini bike at Lapeer International Dragway on July 4. The 14-year-old youth, who’s been racing four years already, came from Clinton Township to test his mettle. MAYFIELD TWP. — The track at Lapeer International Dragway was nearly finished and gleaming, but the area around the starting gate looked like No Man’s Land in WWI and at points traffic on Roods Lake Road was at a near standstill south of Daley Road. Still, Bill Jennings made his goal of having racing on the Fourth of July to mark the 50th Anniversary of the track’s opening.

Contractors only got part of the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) required safety wall complete, so racing was confined to an eighth-of-a-mile instead of the track’s full quarter-mile. Still a long line of daily drivers, street rods, hot rods, rails, motorcycles and mopeds waited their turn to test their mettle.


A serious dragster smokes in the water pit at Lapeer International Dragway in Mayfield Township on the Fourth of July. Between racers and spectators, more than 1,000 people crowded into the work-in-progress facility despite the 90-degree heat. 
Photos by Phil Foley A serious dragster smokes in the water pit at Lapeer International Dragway in Mayfield Township on the Fourth of July. Between racers and spectators, more than 1,000 people crowded into the work-in-progress facility despite the 90-degree heat. Photos by Phil Foley The track opening generated an explosion of comment on social media, some positive, some not too much. People on the ground, however, seemed generally pleased, despite the blistering heat of the Fourth of July.

“This looks awesome,” said Brad Domoeier, who lives “right down the street” in Mayfield Township, as he sat behind the wheel of his blue ’69 Chevelle with its 557 blown big block Chevy engine waiting his turn. His wife and two kids were in the stands and waited to watch him make his run. “Everybody’s here,” he said.


Lapeer’s Darrel Peardon, who raced a ’95 Ford F-150 at Lapeer International Dragway “a long time ago” brought his kids Keegan, 9, and Isabella, 7, to see the first race of the Bill Jennings era at the track. Lapeer’s Darrel Peardon, who raced a ’95 Ford F-150 at Lapeer International Dragway “a long time ago” brought his kids Keegan, 9, and Isabella, 7, to see the first race of the Bill Jennings era at the track. “They’ve done a hell of a job in just four weeks,” said Dale Link, who owns Motorsports Safety in Swartz Creek. His company provides emergency services staffing for Dixie Speedway, Owosso Speedway and Auto City in Flint.

“This is long overdue,” said Brian Buchanan of Mayfield Township. “We’ve had to drive one, two hours to find a decent track.”

Which doesn’t mean the day was without its problems. At one point Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept. deputies came by after Roods Lake Road residents complained of traffic backups. Staff acknowledged they have to figure out a way to get people off the road and into the stands quicker.

Local drag racer Todd McKechnie lights up the tires on his Dodge pickup for his first pass at the newly-rebuilt Lapeer International Dragway.Local drag racer Todd McKechnie lights up the tires on his Dodge pickup for his first pass at the newly-rebuilt Lapeer International Dragway.The track’s timing tree didn’t arrive in time, so all the runs were released by hand.

Still Jennings was smiling for the most part.

He had all new wood on the old bleachers, but he still has a lot of work to do and he has even bigger plans for the future.



A junior dragster begins its run down the newly-paved Lapeer International Dragway in Mayfield Township. A junior dragster begins its run down the newly-paved Lapeer International Dragway in Mayfield Township.

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