Page 70 - Nitro Madness Magazine Fall 2017
P. 70

Having a strong observatory
                                                                                      spirit, Judge Miller collaborated
                                                                                      with nine Long Beach Lions Clubs,
                                                                                      Mayor Norris Poulson, Councilman
                                                                                      Gibson, George Putnam, several
                                                                                      representatives (including John
                                                                                      Chadwick) from the LA Harbor
                                                                                      Commission (LAHC) and Mickey
                                                                                      Thompson to bring this to fruition.
                                                                                      Though it was a long hard battle
                                                                                      that spanned almost 24 months, the
                                                                                      Lions Club raised $45,000 in funds
                                                                                      while the LAHC secured a dormant
                                                                                      railroad switching yard land lease.
                                                                                      The lease was based upon a 30-
                                                                                      day revocable basis. Upon the
                                                                                      procurement, Mickey wasted no
                                                                                      time digging fence pole holes and
                                                                                      constructing a timing tower and
                                                                                      selling pit passes.

                                                                                        Upon completion the 60ft
                                                                                      wide, 3,500ft long racing surface
                                                                                      would forever be known as “Lions
                                                                                      Associated Drag Strip” (LADS); in
                                                                                      which all profits were earmarked
                                                                                      for the Lions Clubs to support
                                                                                      various charities that benefited
                                                                                      the blind. Located south of 223rd
                                                                                      street, less than half a mile east of
                                                                                      Alameda in the LA Harbor district
                                                                                      of Wilmington; the “Beach” (as
                                                                                      the racers called it) was dedicated
                                                                                      on September 15, 1955. Little
                                                                                      did anyone know that this “back
                                                                                      ally kind of place” (as TV Tommy
                                                                                      Ivo described it) was destined to
                                                                                      become the “Holy Grail” of Drag
                                                                                      Racing! It’s “Drive the Highways,
                                                                                      Race at Lions” and “Run what you
                                                                                      brung” charter was a testament to
                                                                                      its reason for existence.

                                                                                        At twelve feet above sea level,
                                                                                      the dense “air” intensified the
                                                                                      insatiable appetite for horsepower
                                   The iconic engine builder Mike Kuhl and Bill Schilling.   in every class of vehicles; in which
                                        The Lions starting line crew was as fabled as the
                                     racers, “Little Bill” is one of the surviving members.  many national records would be
                                                                                      set and broken! Quite often the

            70                                        Nitro Madness Magazine                                    Fall 2017
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