Located in Butte, it's situated in the vicinity of the Knik River and is approximately 42 miles from the city of Anchorage, Alaska. The beauty is simple to behold, with the dragstrip nestled in amongst the trees. Looming over the finish line, the snow-capped mountain known as Pioneer Peak chimes in to create a postcard-quality aesthetic.
The track was first opened in 1964 by Governor Bill Egan. Operating on land leased from the State of Alaska, it cycled through a variety of names over the years, like Polar Dragway and Thunder Valley Raceway. Upon its sale in 1994 to a group of businesspeople, it became known as Alaska Raceway Park.
The track regularly hosts competitors from the grassroots level all the way up to fully-built competition dragsters. Test-and-tune events run often, while competitive events regularly bring Top Eliminator and other high-end classes to compete on the track. Outside of drag racing, there are rallycross and oval events that run at the facility, too, with a 1/3-mile asphalt oval built on-site in 2016.
The drag strip has boasted a strong community of both competitors and spectators over the years. It was credited for this in 2003, earning the IHRA's Track of the Year award for its "positive growth and success on the track." More recently, in 2019, the track switched over to operating in Division 6 with the National Hot Rod Association.
YouTube channel 1320Video visited the track recently, showing us the astonishing facility up close. The hour-long video showcases the natural beauty of the region, as well as the sheer variety of hot machinery that shows up to compete at the track.
Unlike many other regional motorsports facilities, Alaska Raceway Park has seen continual investment and improvement over the years. Recent decades have brought a refresh of trackside facilities, resurfacing the drag strip, and the installation of a modern computerized timing system. 2002 also saw the track's owners purchase the land from the state of Alaska, ending the lease and ensuring the track has a permanent home.
Many regional tracks are suffering these days. Suburbs often close in, raining down noise complaints, and developers are always hunting for more land to turn into tract housing. However, Alaska Raceway Park is holding strong, running great events, all in the picturesque beauty of the most northern state in the Union.
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