Dragway 42 in West Salem, Ohio
After a significant infrastructure and cosmetic makeover stretching more than three years, Dragway 42 is slated to officially open to drag racers on May 26. (Image/Dragway 42)

After a two-year string of several construction- and weather-related delays that have postponed the reopening of Dragway 42, it appears the end is finally here.

Racetrack officials said the brand-new, fully redesigned racing surface should be ready for safe drag racing on Friday, May 26.

The nearly 60-year-old motorsports facility with a rich drag racing history in West Salem, OH will feature an entirely new racetrack that is now running in the opposite direction of the way former attendees and racers will remember. The full quarter-mile dragstrip features 8-inch thick concrete for the first 770 feet, followed by 3,800 feet of blacktop and a 400-foot emergency gravel pit shutdown area.

The pit area contains more than 750 spaces for racers and crew.

Quick Facts About Dragway 42 Drag Racing

Location: 9161 Rainbow Hwy, West Salem, OH

Scheduled Opening: Friday, May 26; 4 pm.

Entrances: Racers enter from State Route 42; Spectators enter from Jeffrey Road

Admission: $12 for racers and adult spectators; $5 for kids 6-12

Dragway 42 owner Ron Matcham has invested well over $10 million to bring the facility back to life, including millions on drainage designed to protect the racing surface, a brand-new media tower at the track’s north end behind the starting line, new lighting, and bleacher seats from the backstretch of Daytona International Speedway which are now built into the hillside spectator areas along both sides of the strip at Dragway 42.

Dragway 42 drag strip staging area
The track now runs in the opposite direction as it did for its first 50 years. (Image/Dragway 42)

The track alone features 410 individual drains and five rows of six-inch drain tiles along 4,000 feet of race track.

The project engineer designed the facility’s drainage infrastructure to be able to hold a 100-house development, Dragway 42 officials said when we visited the still-under-construction property two years ago.

That was the theme throughout the under-construction facility. Nothing was built to spec. Everything is double what it needs to be. They dug multiple retention ponds, and buried twice as much heavy-gauge wiring to the Accutime Timing System LED starting tree and scoreboards as required. 210 lights will illuminate the racetrack at night.

The track walls are taller (42 inches) and thicker. Innovative plastic tubing surrounding the rebar in the track wall’s footer will allow for greater concrete expansion and contraction.

The track features a light broom finish designed to best hold the VHT traction compound that gives the track surface its tacky feel.

Dragway 42 gates will open at 4 pm. Test and tune runs begin at 5 pm. The track will charge $12 to each racer and for general admission. Kids ages 6-12 are $5.

The track has two entrances. General admission will enter from Jeffrey Road, and race participants will enter through the gate off of State Route 42. The main lot, west of the drag strip, can hold about 2,000 cars. There’s an additional 40-acre overflow lot to accomodate larger events.

“The track will already be prepped, cleaned, raced on and ready to go. The locals can come and race their cars. If you want to come race mom’s car, your car, whatever you want to race,” said Dragway 42 general manager Paul Bursley in an interview with the Wooster Daily Record. “We have a full schedule—Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday—so I keep the place busy. That’s this year. I’m pretty booked as far as events and races.”

Dragway 42 autocross
Dragway 42 uses a network of pit roads for autocross racing. (Image/Dragway 42)

Autocross racing events have already begun, and are scheduled for every Sunday, weather-permitting. Autocross at Dragway 42 is sponsored by the Akron Sports Car Club.

Saturday nights are reserved for officials points races, The Daily Record story said. The IHRA Summit Racing Equipment SuperSeries is currently slated for eight events through summer and fall. The Sportsman National Championship is set for September 22-24, and is supposed to air on ESPN3.

To pass tech inspection, all racing participants will have to meet current IHRA rules.

Here’s a full list of events currently scheduled at Dragway 42.

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Author: Matt Griswold

After a 10-year newspaper journalism career, Matt Griswold spent another decade writing about the automotive aftermarket and motorsports. He was part of the original OnAllCylinders editorial team when it launched in 2012.