January 27, 2023


Still car-crazy after all these years

More Ingenuity in Action

The way it was: Detroit Dragway's opening event, the 1959 US Nationals.

Part 2 of Ingenuity in Action at Detroit Dragway

Part 2 of the film focuses on the 1959 NHRA Nationals at Detroit. Watch for Ohio George Montgomery, the Ramchargers C/A and future NASCAR great Bernie Partridge.

The second part of the 1959 film Ingenuity in Action takes place exclusively at Detroit Dragway. The track was apparently completed just in time for the ’59 NHRA Nationals as the famous ditches on either side of the track are brown mud with absolutely no vegetation.

It is interesting to see the track as it appeared when new, especially since I spent so much time there after it matured. Incredibly, much of the facility was exactly the same in the 1980s.

There are a lot of scenes of cars leaving the starting line. The footage is a far cry from what you see today on ESPN, and the cameraman shot too many cars from the same angle. Despite that, the film is highly entertaining because it shows the hot cars of 1959, which are unlike anything you see on a dragstrip today. This was the Nationals after all, so the contestants represented the ultimate drag machines of the day.

Apparently the “Christmas Tree” had not yet made it as the standard way to start a drag race, as the races were started by a flagman.

Things to watch for include the original Ramchargers High and Mighty C/A Plymouth, Ohio George Montgomery’s Little Eliminator winning Willys Gasser and Art Arfons in an Alison (piston driven) aircraft powered Green Monster.

There are many other cameo appearances by future racing stars, including future NASCAR racer and announcer Bernie Partridge.

If you want to see the ditch when it was brand new, take the time to watch this film, It offers a whole new perspective on Detroit Dragway back in the day.

Tom Bonner