Dec 2-Remembering Lions (1 Viewer)

[email protected]

Nitro Member
I hope the moderator respects this in my view, important post. 49 years ago on this day we lost Lions Drag Strip, the most historic, iconic, important piece of land as far as drag racing history. I do this post each year for the folks who went there, weekly, (like me) once every couple of weeks, once a month or just a couple of times. Guys like Larry Sutton, Cliff, Jim, Mike, Phil and the countless others on this board who went and got the significance of it all.

My dad went on opening day in 55, I started in January of 64, my late mom said I went in 63 but I do not recall that. By a rough count I went to Lions at least 260 times from 64 until this date today in 72. I still hurts and bothers me. Mrs. [email protected] has said that as far as non death family stuff goes, that Lions was my greatest joy, it was, and my biggest heartbreak, it really was. Can you imagine the bond a son could make with his dad going that much just to that track alone!

It was a deal where we left on regular shows at the same time, parked in the same spot, sat in "our" seats on the same blanket, consumed the same food like chili dogs and chili tamales, never got sick of em'. Sat by the same fans and made life long friends. Had driver rivalries that we passionately rooted for or against. The feeling when the big boys, out-of-towners, came in in the winter and fall and the big summer meets. Awesome.

The combination of the best weekly competition of any drag strip, the close-in tight seating with great views, the unique behind the line tower, push starts or the roller starters, great traction, sea level air, cozy pits, and an atmosphere that was, and has never been equaled in my view for a weekly strip. Great race reports in Drag news, Drag World and others by Dave Adler. Larry Sutton on the line, Bernie Mather calling the show and the hands-down best run Saturday night shows. The racers kinda grumbled about it as they were hurried but so many shows wrapped up by 10:30, 10:45, or 11 at latest.

It was a combination of the above, the close-knit racers, super dedicated fans, the brotherhood and overall comradery, setting, location, all made this 1 slice of real estate at 223rd & Alameda in Wilmington, California, a historical place in our sport. There were cleaner, newer, more fancy tracks that came along, but thru it all, there was nothing like Lions Drag Strip ever.

I close with one of the top non death in the family moments was this. My dad was an old school, tough WW2 type guy who was a great, fair, but firm dad who had been thru a lot but worked hard for his family and was my dad, hero, friend, and best race buddy. When we pulled out of Lions about 90 minutes after Olsen and Allen finished it off and watching the track get souvenired, lol. We had to drive out for the last time.

That drive out I was a quiet crying mess as I looked over to my right at the pits, my dad was in tears as well, never saw him quietly sob. We hung a left on 223rd and before making the right on Alameda, I turned around and took one more look at Lions under the lights, it was a silent ride home on the 405 to Van Nuys.

Drive the Highways-Race at Lions, boy they sure did.
Some great racing, a chili tamale, and being with my father at Lions............it was a glorious time in our world of drag racing then. Thanks Lions!


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Ramjet

Nitro Member
Two Sundays ago we were asked to bring "Isky" to the Lions Automobilia for the retirement of one of the guys (Larry Wagner) who ramroded the restorations of most of the cars in there. This place is amazing with 100,000 square feet of cars and other neat stuff. They have a Cafe / Soda shop - Movie theater - Speed Shop - Willys Dealership (Lorenzen Motors with 50 cars) - Gas station - Lions Starting Line & too much more to add right now. You really need a day to take in several hundred cars - bikes as well as the stores. Go to https://lionsautomobilia.org/ and be prepared to spend a while. This is a 17 year project that is still in progress that Rick Lorenzen has made into tha finest Auto Museum I have ever seen.
 

Cliff

Nitro Member
Amen Amen Amen. I commented on another post that loosing Lions was the one that hurt the most. I don't remember what time I left Lions after the Last Race, but I finally realized that I needed to go home. Musta been 2-3 hours after the T/F final. I am blessed to still have old photos I took there. Funny how when I start looking at them, all the memories come back.
 
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