When Dan and Wally Smith, two young Oswego area farmers, opened the Oswego Drag Strip for its first season in 1955, Oswego residents didn’t know quite what to make of it. The Smiths had staked out the quarter-mile strip on their family farm on Route 34 a couple miles west of the Route 34 bridge.
Starting its first year as a dirt strip, the Smiths blacktopped it in time for the opening of the 1956 racing season. Within weeks, the raceway was drawing thousands of drag racing enthusiasts from all over the Midwest every Sunday from spring to fall right through the heart of Oswego—far out-stripping the village’s total population. That September, the Oswego Drag Raceway hosted the Chicago area’s first championship drag race event. In coming years, “The Strip” would draw heavy crowds to see some of the most famous drag racers and their dragsters in the nation until it closed in 1979.
If you’re a fan of the old drag strip, love the automotive lore of the 1950s through the 1970s, remember those “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!” radio commercials, or if you just want to learn more about this fascinating piece of Oswego’s 20th century history, be sure to join the Little White School Museum’s staff at the Oswego Brewing Company, 61 Main St. in the village’s historic downtown on Thursday, Aug. 11. From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. when participants will enjoy chatting about some of the fastest cars, most interesting events, and most daring drivers who competed at the raceway.
Pre-registration, which is required, is $15 for Oswegoland Park District residents and $20 for non-residents. Admission for those 21 and older comes with one beer ticket to enjoy during the lecture.
The Oswego Brewing Company is located in the lower level of the old Oswego Fire Station No. 1 in the middle of the village’s downtown business district.
Space is limited for what will prove to be a popular event, so get your tickets now before they’re sold out.
To register, call the Oswegoland Park District at 630-554-1010 or visit oswegolandparkdistrict.org/.