Lost Dragstrip: Fontana Drag City

Fontana Drag City
by Michael Satterfield - Updated 04/23/2024 - Originally Published in 2010

Not far from my studio in Rancho Cucamonga is a place that was once known as Fontana Drag City and remains among the suburban housing tracks. So, I decided to take a trip to the site and snap some photos of the few signs that remain of Mickey Thompson's old track. Which, without knowing, thousands of people have driven past every day. 

Fontana Drag City

 Fontana Drag City was an iconic drag racing track located in Fontana, California, that operated from the 1950s until its closure in the 1980s. It was one of the most popular racing venues in the country, attracting thousands of fans and racers from all over the world. Officially known as Mickey Thompson's Fontana International Dragway, it was a major stop on the NHRA circuit from 1955 to 1972.

The Fontana Drag City was originally built in the 1950s by racing enthusiasts who wanted to create a world-class racing venue. They constructed a quarter-mile track and a grandstand that could accommodate thousands of spectators. The track quickly became popular among racers, and it hosted numerous national and international events over the years.

The 1960s and 1970s were the glory days of the Fontana Drag City. The track hosted some of the biggest events in the sport, including the NHRA Winternationals and the AHRA World Finals. It was also a popular spot for local racers, who competed in weekly races for cash prizes.

The Fontana Drag City was known for its fast track and record-breaking times. Some of the most famous drag racers of all time, including Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, and John Force, competed at the track and set world records. The track also had a reputation for being one of the most well-maintained and professional racing venues in the country.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the popularity of drag racing began to wane. The Fontana Drag City, like many other racing venues, struggled to attract crowds and maintain profitability. The track was also facing increased competition from other racing venues in the area.

In 1984, the Fontana Drag City closed its doors for good. The track was torn down and replaced by housing tracts and a retail shopping center. The only thing left of the legendary drag strip is the shutdown area at the end, just before the turnoff for the return road. Chunks of concrete from some of the walls and other buildings are strewn about. 

Despite its demise, the Fontana Drag City left a lasting legacy on the sport of drag racing. The track was a pioneer in the sport, and it helped to establish drag racing as a legitimate and respected form of motorsports. It also provided a platform for some of the greatest racers of all time to showcase their skills and break records.

Today, drag racing continues to be a popular sport, and there are numerous racing venues across the country that host events throughout the year. The Fontana Drag City may be gone, but its impact on the sport will be felt for generations to come.

If you visit Google Maps (HERE) you can still see the faint outline of the last bit of the drag strip. 

Update 04/24/2024: The area has been turned into a parking lot for Water of Life Church, but you can still see some of the original asphalt peaking out of the sand. 

In 2010, just a small patch of the strip remained

Lost Dragstrip: Fontana Drag CityLost Dragstrip: Fontana Drag City

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Lost Dragstrip: Fontana Drag City

Lost Dragstrip: Fontana Drag City
Lost Dragstrip: Fontana Drag City