Arts and Entertainment

Drag Strip Reunion celebrates 10 years in Arlington Sept. 14

Rachel Brown showed off her father Joe Brown
Rachel Brown showed off her father Joe Brown's 1940 Willys Coupe at last year's Drag Strip Reunion.
— image credit: File photo.

ARLINGTON — For the 10th year in a row, the west side of the Arlington Municipal Airport will be revving with hot rod and classic car engines this fall, as the Arlington Drag Strip Reunion returns to the blacktop just off the airport's 188th Street NE entrance on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visitors will be able to get an eyeful of vintage vehicles and souped-up rigs for an admission fee of $3 for adults and $1 for kids, while entrants in the show will be charged $20 to pre-register or $25 at the gate.

From the 1950s to 1970, the Arlington Airport served as the site of the National Hot Rod Association-sanctioned Drag Strip event, which produced a number of national records in the early years of organized drag racing.

The first Drag Strip Reunion came about in 2004, when the nearby Arlington Boys & Girls Club revived the event to help raise funds for their programs. They received support not only from the city and the airport, but also from the former track manager and track announcer of the original Drag Strip.

Four years ago, Arlington Boys & Girls Club Director Bill Kinney approached the Port Gardner Vintage Auto Club about partnering on the Drag Strip Reunion, since the latter club had been putting on their own auto show to support local charities, including the Boys & Girls Clubs, for the past 31 years.

Jake Jacobsen, of the Port Gardner Vintage Auto Club, touted the show's focus on supporting the surrounding community as one of its biggest draws.

"It's all done by volunteers, so all the proceeds are able to go to those local charities," said Jacobsen, who noted that the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Automotive Program has been among the regular beneficiaries of the show's proceeds. "We select seniors who will stay in the automotive field after they graduate, and sponsor them to get tools, so they can get hired immediately out of school."

According to Jacobsen, last year's Drag Strip Reunion raised slightly more than $10,000 for various charities, and this year's goal is to reach $12,000.

With as many as 500 vehicles on display and more than 2,400 spectators estimated to have attended last year, Jacobsen reminded those who will be gathering in Arlington for this year's event weekend that there are no activities on Friday, Sept. 13, associated with the Drag Strip Reunion.

Indeed, while the city of Arlington welcomes the auto enthusiasts who will be coming to the community for the event, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission will be working with the Arlington Police Department to enforce the rules of the road by conducting additional patrols that Friday evening, with zero tolerance for any traffic violations.

"The Arlington Police have been very welcoming to work with on this," Jacobsen said. "They've been totally open and cooperative."

Jacobsen likewise praised the Arlington business community for its willingness to promote the Drag Strip Reunion.

"We've gotten lots of great local support, and our local businesses have been a big part of that," Jacobsen said. "People become very cooperative when they hear that it all goes back to charity. A lot of local merchants just like supporting local events, and 95 percent of them have been very happy to talk to us."

In turn, the Drag Strip Reunion will further show its support for the surrounding community by collecting non-perishable food items for local food banks, and will even incentivize those donations by rewarding those contributors with free raffle tickets.

The local charities which receive funds from the Drag Strip Reunion will have their own table, and the Burned Children Recovery Foundation's fire truck will be featured among the hundreds of current and historic classics, street rods, customs and specially restored drag cars from the strip's heyday in the 1950s and '60s.

For more information, log onto the event's website at www.arlingtondragstripreunion.com.

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