Drivers start their engines at the DC Dragway

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Sunday night and crowds line the track on Country Road 74 &045; a stretch of black slick, smelling of smoke, grease, and gasoline still warm from test runs.

Engines crackle and lights hover.

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The light &8220;tree&8221; turns yellow.

It’s about race time.

Welcome to the Dallas County Dragway. People here estimate folks have raced on this track for about 60 years.

Numbers like &8220;350,&8221; &8220;505,&8221; &8220;470,&8221; &8220;4:8&8221; and &8220;10.5&8221; have a commonly understood meaning here.

A recent Sunday, for example, was

&8220;Test and Tune&8221; day to allow folks to run their cars and adjust them.

Pretty soon, though, the season will end. Once the track gets below 50 degrees, nobody races. Slick tires need the heat.

At this track folks enter their cars by class and pay a registration fee.

Some hire mechanics for their cars, while others do all the work themselves.

These cars don’t come cheap, either.

Bernard &8220;Jitterbug&8221; Bennett of Selma said a motor could run $12,000 to $15,000. Some the cars at the track on this day had $40,000 to $50,000 in them.

&8220;Some of these cars have 40 to 50 thousand in them,&8221; he added. Others had total cost estimates of over $100,000.

His engine cost nearly $20,000. Williams says he wouldn’t do it any other way.

&8220;Some people come up here with a piece of junk and they try to fly … if you build your own stuff, you know what you have,&8221; he said.

John Brian Hale of Automotive Excitement, and his father, Johnny Hale, does all the work on their 1985 Chevrolet S-10. Johnny Hale built the engine, and John Hale completed nearly all the work on truck’s chassis, wing and wheelie bar. Hale has raced at the track for about eight years.

This day an oil spill delayed the race until sunset. Folks didn’t seem to mind.

As the sky grew dark, Mustangs, Camaros, a couple of trucks, a classic Skylark and a Vega lined up to go first.