The beginning of a race track...
In 1958 two men Paul Jaffe and Paul Katz set out to made history on the East Coast by building the finest drag strip east of the Rockies. There were not many drag racing venues on the East Coast; the closest was in Vineland, NJ and Allentown, PA. Paul and Paul then recruited Ed Rosner and Lester Medvine to help secure a suitable location, their dream and the planning was set in motion.
In 1959, the foursome happened across acres of land in Atco, NJ on the very edge of the Pinelands was 150 acres ample room for a race track. It was a prime location to build a dragstrip, just 15 miles from Philadelphia and at the time not a soul lived within three miles of the projected site. The land was then owned by Jim Sarappa. In 1959 a deal was made to purchase the land, and after the purchase was finalized construction of Atco Dragway was underway.
The four men had a tremendous amount of input into the planning and building of the track. Their ideas made it possible for Atco Dragway to be a state-of-the-art venue in every way possible.
They also intended on the track being a very well known throughout the future years of drag racing. Two large pit areas on both sides of the track were constructed to accommodate up to 400 racers; Grandstands to hold 5,000 racing fans and enthusiast of all ages. The race track itself was built very wide with the lanes spanning 60 feet across with a length of 4,200 feet. This length provided even the fastest car ample stopping room.
The planning and development that these four men put into the Dragway has allowed Atco Dragway to remain one of the widest and longest dragstrips in the United States.
Construction was completed in March of 1960 at a cost of $25,000 and on Memorial Day ~ May 30, 1960 history was made and it became opening day for Atco Dragway. This opening day Jaffe, Rosner, Medvine and Katz were joined by 300 racers and over 2,000 spectators—the dream became a reality.
Numerous National Records have been set at Atco Dragway in 1960, Joe Tucci set the Top Eliminator mark at 9.06; 168.85 in a Chrysler powered A/ dragster.
Being open for 60+ years the racetrack has been the venue for many famous names; Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, Bill “Grumpy “ Jenkins (his home track) Ronnie Sox, TV Tommy Ivo, Jungle Jim Leiberman, Connie Kaitta, Don Prudhomme, Raymond Beadle and Bunny Burkette to name a few. The management has prided itself in booking the best the sport has to offer here at the track. Some of the best races took place at the Wednesday Night Special shows like the World Fuel Funny Car Championships, The National Super Stock Championships, The Cars Magazine Championship and many, many more.
The “Thrill Seekers” have been a big part of keeping the Atco fans on their toes with their wild antics. Sammy Miller and Fred Goeske drove their rocket cars over 300 mph. “Kiteman” Chuck Skurry, Benny the Bomb, Brian Carson the “Master of Disaster”, Bob Motz in his jet powered Kenworth and many, many more.