1999 release on video and DVD of Monte Hellman's film 'Two-Lane Blacktop'
prompted me to pay a visit to the grounds of the Lakeland International
Raceway; a track that made its debut on July 4th, 1960 as Lake Land
'Two-Lane Blacktop' made it's theatrical debut in New York City on the
Fourth of July weekend too.) Almost ten years after I started this site,
in 2009 the last remains of this once vibrant track were scooped up by
heavy equipment and hauled off in dump trucks to make way for more of the
same, mixed use development.
Closed in 1979, this track saw a lot of action in its heyday hosting major
NHRA, AHRA and IHRA events. The best names in drag racing have
traveled this asphalt; Jungle Jim, Dyno Don, Arnie "The Farmer"
Beswick, Shirl Greer, Bob Glidden, Lee Shepherd, Shirley Muldowney, Tommy
Ivo, Eddie Hill, Gene Snow and many more! In 1972 Big Daddy Don Garlits set an AHRA
national E.T. record, traversing Lakeland Raceway in 5.95 seconds. He
returned in 1973 and laid down drag racing's quickest pass of the time,
5.79 seconds; a number that stood with NHRA for almost two years.