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From Michigan Drag Strip History:
Dave Lyall wa a teen-aged member of the Tappet Tickers in 1956, a Michigan Hot Rod Association-sanctioned Hot Rod Club, The dues paid by club members was used to fund the purchase of sixty acres of land in New Baltimore, in Ira Township. Club members were also required to work at the track site to get it ready for construction. The track finally opened in the summer of 1957, with very primitive facilities, including a pnenumatic timing system. Races were started by a flagman.
The timing clocks were operated with an air hose attached to a hand-held pole under a front tire of the race car, starting the clocks (an official pulling it away from the rear tires after the launch so it would not get damaged) and another air hose crossing each lane of the track at the finish line, which stopped the clocks. Later additional air hoses were added at the finish line to facilitate recording speeds. An official stood at each side of the finish line with a flag. The official in the winner's lane raised his flag to indicate to the officials and spectators which lane was the winner.
At this early date, the strip was called the MHRA Drag Strip. Ads gave its location as Gratiot and 26 Mile Road, but newspaper articles clarified it as being six miles east of Gratiot Road. It was just south of today's Marine City Highway (26 Mile Road) and on the west side of Meldrum Road. At an April 19, 1959 race, Harold Smith of Masillon, Ohio, was top eliminator in his blown Chevy dragster with a 132 MPH and 10.68 ET. Connie Kalitta was second fastest with a 126 MPH, 11.48 second run.
On May 17, 1959, another fast car from Masillon, Ohio, broke the track record. David Pearson, at the wheel of the "Blue Angel" dragster turned 136 MPH. In 1963-64, ads were calling it International Raceway Park, "the racer's drag strip." In 1965, it was named Motor City Dragway, sanctioned by NASCAR. They began running at nights under lights in 1965. On May 20, 1967, Dick Sawallich was killed at the track in a racing accident. It was listed in the January 1969 issue of Hot Rod as a sanctioned NHRA track.