St. Pauls during the 50’s and the 60’s was as boring as it is now and St. Pauls had not been introduced to Marijuana or any other drug except Alcohol and mother’s little helpers. St. Pauls, as most redneck small towns in the US, became a Mecca for amateur drag racing on the streets and at sanctioned drag strips.
Some of us were racing the Ford 390’s, Pontiac 421’s, Chevy, 409’s, Plymouth 383’s and Dan had a Chrysler 300 with twin four barrel carburetors w/ ram induction, producing enough horsepower to launch into space. The trash dump drag strip on S. Elizabeth Street ran from the new pavement South to the second bridge.
I was threatened with dismemberment and my body parts would have been thrown in the Mill Pond if I raced Dads 383 Plymouth Sport Fury anywhere. I was good and never raced Dad’s car anywhere until Jim called me a chicken. Chicken! Nobody called me chicken and I met him and his 389 Pontiac at the Bridges one Friday night. I was no chicken, although I was scared to death but afraid not to do it. Chickening out would have been worse; my peers would not have allowed me back in school again. I would have been flown from the flag pole in front of the cafeteria. No way, I had to save face. I had opened my big foot and inserted my mouth. I had to go through with it.
The race of the century was on and I was participating in it. Oh ——, I was saying, if my Dad ever finds out I will be grounded for life, if I am not dismembered by him and thrown under the bridges for the fish to feed on my body parts.
The parties met, no talk, Jerry lined us up on the start about three quarters of way up the hill. Jerry made sure no one had the advantage and then flagged us off. Too late to think about what Dad was going to do now, the race was on and I was scared. I was the virgin of this activity and I was not going to show it. Jim was an old hand at this activity and was as COOL as ice. I think he had Ice flowing through his veins because mush was flowing in mine.
We left the line with Jim leading, I caught up shortly and we stayed side by side all the way to the bridges. I could barley see him but I knew he would not take his foot from the metal unless I chickened out first. I never found out who won but when I took my foot off the accelerator we looked still side by side and I could not tell who won and I never heard from anybody and nothing was ever said about it. Strange as it seems, but it was also very stupid behavior on my part. I have never again raced a car and counted my blessing I was not killed going over 120 MPH— or worse having Dad find out. However, I will say, one thing Dad liked was hot cars, not that I did not.
Chick was the only friend, besides my cousin Fred, who raced at the drag strip in Fayetteville. Chick won a couple of trophies that his Mother found after he was away in college. That is the only reason he was not dismembered and thrown into the Mill Pond next to me. The older we get, the more conservative we become and the less likely we are to do crazy things. I would say stupid things but you can’t fix stupid.
I have had a lot of fun riding my bicycle around the area but I have observed a couple of things that have changed in the last 38 years. It seems that South Elizabeth St. (Trash Dump Drag Strip) is no longer operational and shows no sign of life except for the gang graffiti. At least we took our stupidity out of town…
I see that at least five streets in town that just never fail to amaze me. They seem to have replaced the Dump Drag Strip: The Wilkerson Deathway, North 3rd Speedway, Railroad Motorcycle Test Track, Old Stage Dragway and Dieway 20 Truck Route.
Wilkerson Dieway and Old Stage Dragway can be fixed by moving the school’s student entrance and exit to 301 along with the buses. I personally think 25 is a little slow for the area but I also think that 40 and above is too fast!!! Sometimes I wonder about the buses in the afternoon?
Maybe N. 3rd Speedway and the Railroad Test Track could be solved by a few four-way stops and three-way stops with lots of speed bumps. What fun…!
Now the Dieway 20 would also be easy to fix. We could detour traffic around St. Pauls at Covington Farm Road to Great Marsh Road to Barker Ten Mile Road, or we could just place stop lights at every intersection in town with speed bumps in between the lights— and not synchronizing the timing in the lights. That would slow down traffic. We could go through a lot of BS or maybe we could buy a few more radar guns?
PS. What do we need, a quota?