The historic Island Dragway, re-opened this season in an area bereft of tracks, hosted a “Mopars at the Patch” event on October 19. The name “Island” has nothing to do with its location; the NHRA-certified dragway is on Island Street in Great Meadows, New Jersey, near Hackettstown.
The cost to run down the track, starting at 2:30 pm, was a reasonable $35, presumably plus the admission fee; helmets could be rented at the track. Allpar show regular Brian Kapral took his perfectly-restored, fully-stock Dodge Charger down the track four times, achieving 16-second quarter mile times with street tires and tune, and in his first experience with drag racing. He called it “a blast,” though now he’s exploring ways to get down into the 14s.
For a “Mopar show,” there were a lot of non-Mopars running down the track; the “car show” portion had a paltry nine cars, just six of which were not in current production (Most, perhaps all, were NCPC Skylands chapter members.) On arrival, though the poster referred to car show admission as being $5, it turned out that was in addition to the $15 per person general admission, so a car with two people turning up for the “show” alone was charged $35. The “test and tune” event would add another $35. There were some trophies awarded, (after we left), and with just eight cars, the chances of getting one were pretty good... if you stayed long enough to collect it.
The track is a full quarter mile with standard lights and time displays, similar to those of other drag tracks; there were several GM and Ford breakdowns which were addressed fairly quickly. Most of the cars running down the track were dedicated drag racers, brought in trailers, and quite a few were GMs and Fords, with a scattering of foreign cars as well. Even the Mopars were mostly drag racing machines, with a scattering of new Challengers, a Neon SRT4, an apparently stock Magnum, and Brian’s Charger — possibly the only stock vintage car to run down the track.
Update: the Viper bounced off both rails, and had to be flat-bedded home with a bad wheel and loose hood.
Wooden bleachers in decent repair were available for fans to sit and watch the racing, with a good view of the staging area; the track has a high capacity for cars to wait in line for tech inspection. There was a hot dog stand and an ice cream/snack stand, which we left untested. The track is in the middle of farm fields, at the end of a long and unnecessarily bumpy road; a single, small, “politician” type disposable sign on the main road has “Island Dragway” printed on one side, and hand-lettered on the other. (A sign double the size would cost roughly $20, so one assumes they’re not really trying to get new visitors.)
Overall, it was an interesting visit, but not really worth the trip unless you plunk down the extra $35 and run down the track. The price isn’t bad and the lines are relatively short. As a car show, it was pretty much a “miss,” despite some excellent classics brought by NCPC members.
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