Another early casualty was Sunnyvale's Jay Cheatham, who was killed in a fatal accident during the first U. Bill Crossley, driving Ernie Hashim's dragster, ripped off a strip-record 170.45 MPH run on August 3, 1958, becoming the "first man in the history of western drag strip racing to reach the 170 mph mark." (Bakersfield Californian, Aug.4, 1958) Of course, Don Garlits had set a national record in June 1958 at Kissimmee with a clocking of 171.42 MPH, but West Coast racers were dubious.Races were held on Sky Park Airport, a private airfield built in 1947.Jensen wrote, "Sky Park airport [was] run by Santa Cruz Slopokes and Cam Snappers with support from Cal Neva Timing [Manny Clinnick].It was called the West Coast Championship Drag Races.Eight thousand spectators watched Tony Waters take the top eliminator prize in his GMC-powered roadster.Don Jensen, a DSL reader who first started drag racing in California in 1950, interviewed Jack Hagemann (1916-2009) in 2007 about the early years of drag racing.
Among the passengers, who were returning from holiday in Spain, were the film and television actress June Thorburn, who was five months pregnant; the industrialist and Coventry City Football Club vice-president John Clarkson and Donald Cambell of the Campbell Aircraft Company based in Weybridge.
In 1955, they held the two-day event again, seen by 6,000 spectators, calling it the California Championship.
Over the years, five drivers have died in accidents at Bakersfield, the first occurring on December 1, 1957.
THE WEY NAVIGATIONS • Introduction • History • The Godalming Navigation • The Wey Navigation .
RIVER TRANSPORT • Introduction • Lock • Barges • Life on the Barges • The Horse- drawn IONA .