HISTORY

GREEN VALLEY RACEWAY'S ROLE IN RACING HISTORY

  • Bill and Dorothy McClure, owners of a 400 acre dairy farm north of downtown Smithfield, decide to develop 250 acres of their property into a drag strip.  In early 1960, after months of planning, contracts and red tape, Green Valley Raceway officially opens.  Called by some, “The Track that Milk Built,” Green Valley would eventually by home to a variety of motorsport events, but to many the heart of the raceway would always be drag racing.​

  • On Thanksgiving Day, Bill McClure held a “Race of Champions,” pitting top names from both AHRA and NHRA circuits.  Names in attendance included Bob Sullivan, Bob Rodgers, Art Malone, Don Briethaupt, Buddy Anderson, Pusch & Crews, Chuck Lockwood, Butch Stevenson, Terry & Corr, Bob Nickelson, Dave Hasty, J.L. Meador, Jim Tice, Jim Hall, Biggers Bros., J.E. Kristek, Bob Taylor, Bob Leader, Ray Huckabee, Billie Rasmussen, John Mulkey, Bobby Langley, Leroy Wilson, L.C. Kirby,  August Hartkopf, Haydon & Cox, Eddie Hill, Wayne Henak and Whitey Myers.  It was a bold move, and helped put Green Valley Raceway on the map.

1960

1961

  • 1961 marked Green Valley’s first full season.  Given the choice between NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) and AHRA (American Hot Rod Association) sanctioning, Bill McClure had chosen AHRA.  Nitromethane fuel was currently banned on NHRA tracks. Nitro, however, was immensely popular with fans.  It meant higher horsepower, louder engines, faster times, bigger names, and bigger crowds. NHRA would eventually lift the ban in 1964, but until that time, AHRA tracks enjoyed a distinct advantage over their NHRA counterparts.​

  • In its first full season, the raceway drew 125,000 total spectactors, with 30,000 of those patrons visiting during AHRA nationals over Labor Day Weekend.  In 1961, Green Valley also hosted its first professional road race, sanctioned by the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America).  The 1.6 mile road course was cobbled together from the drag strip, return lane, and adjacent parking lots.  The road race drew 6,000 spectators on the February weekend.

GVR Overhead.jpg

1963

  • In 1963, the road course that was created in 1961 was lengthened to be nearly 2 miles long. The direction of the races was often changed, and the hairpin at the end of the straightaway was smoothed out to make it more forgiving.  Go-Karters swamped North Texas in October as the International Karting Federation held a race at Green Valley as a part of their Enduro Grand Nationals.

1965

  • During the SCCA Polar Prix in February, Carroll Shelby debuts the anticipated Ford Mustang GT350, driven by Ken Miles.  At the time, Green Valley is seen as a versatile hub of North Texas auto racing, hosting drag races, road races, karting, gymkhanas, rally schools, and economy runs.

GV Poster.png
CARROLL SHELBY p2 GVR 65 FEBetceterini.j
SHELBY-GT-350-KEN-MILES-p2-.jpg

Ken Miles lifts off in the Ford GT350 at Green Valley Raceway

Carroll Shelby

miles.jpg

1966

greenvalley+race7.JPG
  • In February, for the first time in Texas auto racing history, television crews tape segments of the drag race action to be aired on channel 5.  McClure also opens a drag racing Class for “family cars” titled “pure stock,” opening up the opportunity to showroom equipped vehicles. 

  • The road race track layout is revised to a length of 2.1 miles, which includes the two bridges that were used to access the staging area and pits.  What is touted as “the world’s first heated grandstand” is constructed to help keep fans warm during the Polar Prix and early season drag races.

  • As an exhibition in June, three jet dragsters are raced side-by-side for the first time ever. The cars are “Green Monster,” “The Bonneville Avenger,” and “Exodus.”

1968

382766c6c48c57df9d2df314e45d828b--moose-

1969

1969

  • Bill McClure decides to sell a 120 acre tract of his land, including the track to “American Raceways Inc.,” a group headed by Ron Miller, a racer and track operator from the West Coast. The purchase price was reported “in the neighborhood of $1,000,000.00.”  Bob Marill is appointed Interim Manager of the track and promises improvements to the spectator facilities and an extension of the road course.  Ron Miller and Jim Tice, President of AHRA agree to still hold the labor day AHRA championships on the site.

  • Jimmy Kirk is the new track manager at Green Valley.  The AHRA Grand American pro drag racing championships had been moved to Oklahoma City, but a tornado and 12 inch rain destroyed the track ahead of the race. Jim Tice and Kirk announce that the race will again be held at Green Valley.

1970

  • A Sports Car Club of America national event is held in February, which will be Green valley's last professional road race until 1984 as SCCA courts other venues.

1971

  • Bill McClure, after 21/2 years, re-acquires Green Valley Raceway by default, as American Raceways returns the track to the original owner. According to McClure, the raceway is in need of significant repairs, in the ballpark of $50,000, in order to get up and running.

1972

BillHielscherCar.jpg
  • Green Valley is sold again, this time to United Enterprises, Inc. Bill Hielscher and Dennis Toppletz, both race drivers, are named race coordinators. In November, while the track is undergoing renovations, a fire burns the timing tower to the ground. With mere months until the start of the '73 season, a new timing tower, speed shop and Hall of Fame are constructed. The timing tower features computer and electric timing.

MrBardahl.png

1974

File0609.jpg
  • On February 17, Evel Knievel jumps 11 Mack trucks while Howard Cosell and "Dandy" Don Meredith announce for ABC's Wide World of Sports. Over 35,000 spectators attended the event. City inspectors were irritated that Hielscher failed to secure a permit for the TV crew's temporary tower, so he told his staff to stall them while Knievel made his jump, and afterwards Hielscher paid the fine. ABC set a record for the largest television audience for any Wide World of Sports program.

Green-valley-ticket-300x118.jpg
EK at GVR.png
Evel-jump-green-valley.jpg

1975

  • Green Valley sets an AHRA record for number of race cars entered and spectators as well during the July AHRA Nationals. 

 

  • In April, the 4th annual “National College Drag Racing Championship” is held at Green Valley, sponsored by the Intramural Department at the University of Texas at Arlington. The event is the only college level sanctioned race in the nation. Male and female college students from around the nation are able to compete.  

1977

Vintage Willie.png
  • In March, a fire starts in a circuit breaker in the concession building, causing $12,000 worth of structural damage and $10,000 in damage to contents of the building.

 

  • On June 5, after a day of racing, Willie Nelson appears for the "A Day in the Valley" concert, but North Richland Hills Police Chief Hamp Scruggs enforces the public gathering ordinance and turns off the electricity for the event after Willie’s second song.  Angry fans tear up the concession tents, and tear down the fence in front of the stage.

 

  • In July, Green Valley hosts its first NHRA Winston World Championship Series event.

 

  • After 13 years at Green Valley Race City, the American Hot Rod Association decides to move its national event to another facility.  Bill Hielscher had scheduled numerous events with NHRA sanctioning, the nation’s top drag racing association at the time.  The AHRA had been suffering in recent years, offering fewer cars in each field.

1979

  • Dallas' Buddy Boren uses Green Valley as a shooting location for his upcoming movie, "Wheels of Fire." His crew focuses on shooting drag crash scenes to be used in the film.

1980

  • Green valley adds a new "mud racing" facility that is named "THE BOG." Four wheel drive vehicles and motorcycles duel for cash and trophies.

1981

images.jpeg
  • In April, three North Richland Hills police offers are suspended after staging a drag race at Green Valley using their patrol cars.  The race was an effort to promote better public relations between the raceway and local police.  At the green light, one patrol car took off down the track, and the other broke down at the starting line.  

 

  • In September, a crowd of 55,000 persons attended a free concert/race promoted by KTXQ-FM “Q102”. The crowd overwhelmed traffic for several miles in each direction, and caused several complaints for adjacent residents.  Twelve concert goers were arrested, two policemen suffered minor injuries, and two stabbings were reported.  A patrol car was also damaged by thrown bottles. 

 

  • Following the controversial “Q102” concert, the NRH City Council unanimously passed a tougher “mass gathering” ordinance, setting up 13 requirements a promoter must meet to hold such a gathering.

1983

  • Two fatal crashes occur over a 3 week period at the track, which became heavily publicized. A lawsuit is filed against the race track, alleging negligence. Track officials label the fatalities "freak accidents," but the incidents leave their mark.

1984

1985

  • In November, a four-way Supercar Shootout is held for Popular & Performance Car Review Magazine, staging a 1968 Ram Air GTO, a 390 AMC AMX, a Cobra Jet Mustang GT and a Charger Daytona against one another. The AMX outperformed the rest.

1986

  • In February, Green Valley hosts its last championship racing event. The Winston World Championship closed out nearly a quarter century of championship racing.

  • On the weekend of June 15th, Green Valley hosts its final event prior to its closure, titled "the Last Race." After a decade of noise complaints, the owners defiantly closed out the event with jet dragsters running deafening quarter-miles for everyone to revel in.

GV Logo NO CITY.png
GT 500.png
green-valley-raceway-c80e5f99-47c9-4dac-
KellyChadwickGeneSnow.jpg