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Southside Dragway Resurrected, Joined WDRA Member Track Network

The roar of racecars will greet West Virginia motorsport enthusiasts once again when Southside Dragway (formerly Kanawha Valley Dragway) opens under new ownership and sanction. Earl Smith sold a portion of his muscle car collection to purchase the facility which had been closed for seven years. Smith has decided to join the growing list of World Drag Racing Alliance (WDRA) member tracks as he works to resurrect the racetrack.

The eight-mile racetrack located in Southside, West Virginia, originally opened in 1994 and operated until 2017 when it was sold and thought to be doomed for demolition. The facility remained, but years of abandonment created an uphill battle for Smith and his team who have been working nonstop to bring Southside Dragway back up to speed. Multiple members of the community have stepped up with donations and volunteer work toward track upgrades that include two ticket booths, all-new lighting, and a functional PA system. 

“These are the kind of projects we love helping with and this one is a huge effort,” said Jon O’Neal with WDRA. “Earl is a racer with a ton of passion and enthusiasm and has rallied a group of other passionate people working round the clock to bring this facility back to life after mother nature had all but reclaimed it. We appreciate them using the WDRA’s member track benefit package as well as our knowledge and connections to speed up the learning curve that this team is going through to get operational.”

Southside Dragway is scheduled to open May 18, 2024, with a no prep event aptly named “The Comeback.” No prep competition is set to continue until early December while the Smiths hope to eventually fund the purchase of a timing system to add to their racing programs. Earl’s son, Ben, provides updates on Southside Dragway’s Facebook page with a behind-the-scenes glimpse of improvements as well as upcoming events.

Southside Dragway joins 54 other WDRA member racetracks across 25 states, 5 Canadian provinces, and Aruba. WDRA members and facilities receive exclusive discounts and benefits from marketing partners as well as the opportunity to participate in special programs such as the WDRA Race for the Rod and Summit Sportsman Drag Racing Series. To find a facility near you, visit the World Drag Racing Alliance website at

This story was originally published on February 20, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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