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Senior Scene® | January Issue
Valkaria Dragway
In the 1960s, at the north end of Brevard County, there was an intense effort to successfully launch rockets
of increasing size & power in order
to reach orbital velocity with larger payloads. Many of us remember the immense power of the rockets as they lifted off the pad &  ew through our skies to reach orbit, the moon or to other planets. The United States was in a “race” against the USSR to land a man on the moon!
What some of you may not know is that at the same time at the south end of the county a group of folks held NHRA-sanctioned drag races
on the second & fourth Sundays at Valkaria Air eld. Although the speeds were much less, on two Sundays a month people from all over the state (and from other states) would arrive at the former WWII airstrip, located nine miles south of Melbourne, to either race their custom modi ed/built cars, or to watch. From 1963 – 1968, thou- sands of people would attend these races & drivers would work hard to win prize money & bragging rights. In a pursuit to get the most acceleration
out of their car, the drivers & their me- chanics (sometimes one & the same) were like the engineers & technicians to the north as they worked diligently to get the most out of their engines, reduce the vehicle weight as much as possible & attain the most aerodynam- ic outer mold line for their vehicles. The end result of this effort was, when the cars are given the “green light”
at the starting line, both participants & spectators were witness to a signif- icant amount of power & noise as the cars leapt from their starting points and, within an incredibly short period of time, were far down the raceway.
The Valkaria Airport offered an
excellent location for drag races as one of the unused runways at the time was repurposed for the track. Built by the U.S. Navy in 1942 & designated Valkaria Auxiliary Field, the facility was used to support pilot training opera- tions out of the Naval Air Station Mel- bourne (now known as Orlando Mel- bourne International Airport). In the late 1950s, Department of Defense & the General Services Administration conveyed the airport to Brevard Coun- ty for use as a public airport as it was no longer required by the surrounding Valkaria Missile Tracking Annex (MIS- TRAM). Today, the Valkaria Airport, as it was renamed, has two intersecting 4000 foot long runways & 71 full size hangars.
If you have an interest in cars & drag racing as well as how many of the local folks spent their Sundays in the 1960s, I encourage you to attend our next program on January 13th at the Melbourne Public Library (540 E. Fee Avenue, Melbourne) from 3:00pm – 4:30pm. This month’s topic is The Valkaria Dragway (1960s): NHRA-sanc- tioned drag races in Brevard County
For information about SBHS, please visit our website http://www. southbrevardhistory.org. SS
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