Remembering Shuffletown Dragway, Charlotte’s abandoned drag strip

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When you mention Shuffletown Dragway in certain crowds, you will get an earful of stories about an uncle, father or grandfather who raced there. It was an exciting time in Charlotte’s history, and there are plenty of people around who remember those days.

Shuffletown Dragway was built with the help of local residents and their tractors in the 1950s when it became apparent that the dangerous and illegal drag racing from the service station to the bridge on Rozzelles Ferry Road was not going to stop.

In the beginning, the track was made of dirt from the banks of Long Creek. The drag strip was an eighth of a mile long and took 10-15 seconds to run it. Once it was finally paved in 1964, speeds reached upwards of 105 mph and included motorcycles, roadsters and the ever popular Ford vs. Chevrolet race.

Photo 1 Credit wikimapia (1)

Norman Thompson , 80, or “Puddin’ Thompson” as he is known around Shuffletown, remembers helping make the track. He raced his new ‘55 Ford Crown Victoria and then ‘57 Ford Fairlane against the new Chevrolets with the V8 engine. Thompson reminisces, “I was determined that I was going to outrun the Chevrolet.”

Rivalry races brought crowds of 2,000-3,000 people. Cotton Coltharp and Van Hatley were two such adversaries. Both raced ’55 Chevrolets, and Coltharp, not regretfully, says of those races, “I never beat Van Hatley, the Big Kahuna.”

Supposedly Van Hatley was the first to reach 100 mph on that track.

Coltharp explained why the ’55 Chevrolet was the go-to car for races: “They were used on the track because they were a popular car, easy to convert for a drag race and there were lots of them around.”

Sit long enough in the Shuffletown Grill on Rozzelles Ferry Road and you cannot help but run into someone willing to talk about the old dragway.

Photo 2 Credit VMI (1)

Operating since 1957, the diner pays tribute to the drag strip with trophies, photos and video.

Photo 3 Credit VMI

The popularity of Shuffletown grew, and so did development and the city limits of Charlotte. Houses were built near the drag strip and eventually enough complaints led to it being closed in 1991 because of the city noise ordinance. It remained abandoned until 2010, when it was developed as a Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Park with baseball fields, playground and a dog park.

Artwork and signs recognize the history of the land, and a part of the strip is still visible.

If you listen closely, you can still hear the roar of the engines as you walk the old track.

Photos: http://wikimapia.org/10018536/Shuffletown-Dragstrip-site, Vanessa Infanzon, Shuffletown Grill.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Nobody cares about history in Charlotte. Tear down everything that has character,and is older than yesterday’s newspaper for everything that is new, sterile and shiny. Pathetic. How many folks that visit the relatively new Shuffletown Park have a clue that the once very popular Shuffletown Dragstrip lies just off in the weeds between the ballfield and Long Creek? Closed because a bunch of whiny, stuck-up neighbors moved in and couldn’t stand the noise. Well, the dragstrip was there before you moved in, by rights it should still be there when you leave. Lastly, think even one in oh, 15,000-20,000 people who’ve visited the Shuffletown Park realize that, on a wooded hillside close to where the entrance is, lies what could quite possibly be the oldest gold mine in the entire country? Eclipsing what is now regarded as the oldest, the Reed Mine in Cabarrus county, which was discovered in 1799. Shuffletown’s own link to Charlotte’s largely forgotten gold mining history, the Dunn Gold Mine, has roots the potentially, extend back to pre Revolutionary times. But, like all old connections to our past, who cares but a few librarians, and a handful of history-loving citizens? Pitiful.

  2. Shuffletown Park-a nice place to go for a walk, take the dogs to a section reserved specifically for them, an area to let the kids play on the nice playground equipment. But, think that oh, even 1 in 10,000 park visitors realize, that off in the weeds there, between the park and Long Creek lies one of the main things that made Shuffletown popular in the first place? Up until 1991, if you lived in this area, you were aware of the Shuffletown Dragstrip, a legendary place that was closed due to a bunch of whiny neighbors who knew the place was there before they moved in, and by rights, should still be operating today. But, before the dragstrip, WAY before the dragstrip, Shuffletown had a connection to the now largely forgotten gold rush that enveloped the Charlotte and southern Piedmont area that peaked in the mid-1800’s. Gold was discovered at the Reed Mine in Cabarrus county in 1799, though there is evidence that at what later became known as the Dunn Mine, that gold was found here during pre-Revolutionary times. Yes sir, Shuffletown has some history behind it….

  3. Do any of you remember a 1969 Dodge Super Bee named “Little Thirsty” that ran at Shuffletown during 1969-1971.. I own that car now and am looking for any info or old pictures from that time..

  4. Bought a gasser outta a barn that ran at Shuffletown up till 1975 orange front end and black shoe polish on that back window reads a/g 573 car was built in Statesville anybody got any info or pics from that time

  5. My Mother and Father Virginia and Buck Ferrell was part owner of Shuffletown and I even raced my corvette on Saturday and won. The times were at this track. Too bad people are so whinning. Kept a lot of people from racing on the road.

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