LIONS (The Beach)

On page 4 of Volume one, number one issue of Drag News, March 4, 1955 there is a small, almost insignificant announcement: LAD’s Strip Under Way. Secretary Bob Jerauld announces start of construction on their new strip within the next few days. He later became secretary of the NHRA.

Bob was secretary of a group of 11 Long Beach area Lions clubs that banded together to build perhaps the most infamous of all drag strips: Lions. Or, to give it its correct name Lions Associated Drag Strip or, as it was generally known: The Beach.

The strip, on land leased from the Los Angeles Harbor Commission, was located between Santa Fe and Alameda Streets, about a mile north of Willow in Wilmington/Long Beach, Calif.

In the August 19 issue of Drag News it was announced that Mickey Thompson had been selected to be the new manager. Operations were expected to begin in September. Big news, of course, was the intention of using red, yellow and green lights operated by a hand-held switch. This, it was hoped, would eliminate anticipated flagman starts. Car classifications would be in accordance with the NHRA except for the addition of a dragster class.

Lions finally opened on October 9, 1955, actually a few weeks after the opening of another purpose built strip—San Fernando. Drag News described it as, “Probably one of the greatest auto racing spectacles in local history.” The place was packed. The pit gates had to be closed, officials had to limit the number of runs and the parking overflowed into the surrounding streets. Mickey announced he would double the number of bleachers.

A lot of drivers had problems with the lights so starter Ralph Helm resorted to the flags nevertheless some impressive times and speeds were recorded. Fritz Voigt was Top Eliminator with a speed of 131.38 mph but top speed went to Ed Losinski who ran an impressive 151.26 mph. Low E.T. was 10.54 set by Lloyd Scott driving the Howard and Weiand Special “Bustle Bomb.”

The Last Drag Race was the weekend of Dec 1-2, 1972