A warm summer evening was the perfect time to visit Epping, New Hampshire’s New England Dragway to watch the street car races. While this might not be the first activity one has in mind for a Friday night, I am pleased to report it was a family-friendly, interesting and easy activity that got us out of the house in a safe and socially distanced way.
The track is about an hour from here and we drove in at the last minute and got our tickets at the gate. The track hosts larger events which sell out, so check the website in advance before heading out. The entry fee was modest and parking is on a grassy field which serves both visitors and participants alike.
There’s quite an array of giant car trailers, RVs, campers and vintage vehicles which were clearly settling in for the Labor Day weekend races. It was easy to walk amongst the cars, talk to the participants and peek into the work bays of those who travel the circuit and are passionate about their sport.
After all these years of wondering what was inside those giant white or black rectangular trailers we’d pass on the highway, we saw cars, trucks, motorbikes, tool boxes, golf carts, spare parts and double decker transports. Racing is a hobby, an investment, and a passion for these folks.
According to the raceway’s history on their website, New England Dragway is the only 1/4 mile drag strip in New England. It is open four days a week from the beginning of April through the end of October featuring everything from street racing to world class events such as the annual NHRA New England Nationals. The track opened in 1966 and has been upgraded several times through the hard work of racers and racing fans. The park hosts swap meets and other events throughout the season.
After touring the holding area for the cars, we picked our spot in the large bleachers to watch the races. It was easy to social distance as it was not crowded despite the perfect summer evening, but masks are required.
We noticed food concessions providing standard midway fare, including slush, BBQ, chicken fingers and the like. There were lots of families, kids and older couples at the track. We found it a comfortable and friendly environment.
We visited on street night which is designed for beginners. These races let entrants drag race their car to see how fast they can go in as quick a time as possible. We saw Cadillac SUVs, souped-up Honda Civics, Camaro SSs, pick-up trucks, Audis, Mustangs, Chargers, Hellcats, a Lamborghini — an incredible range of cars.
In addition, we saw motorcycles, junior dragsters driven by kids, and even snowmobiles out on the track. Street nights have rules for safety reasons and people use the track as a way to get the thrill of driving their cars fast, or testing modifications that they may have made to their engines.
As a spectator, we’d recommend bringing ear protection or ear plugs.
The quarter mile speed and time is recorded on giant displays at the end of the track. It was amazing to see speeds of up to 150 miles per hour on that quarter mile, with cars squealing tire as they powered off the start and pushed their vehicles to the limit. We’d definitely recommend checking out the New England Dragway over the next few weeks as a way to get out and enjoy the weather while supporting a neat New England institution.