Baileyton, AL (By, TJ Pruitt | September 17, 2016) — Saturday turned into an interesting, unexpected, day that was full of history for DragCoverage Editor in Chief TJ Pruitt as he made his first ever trip to Baileyton “Goodtime” Dragstrip in Baileyton, AL. It started out as a trip to watch fellow racers compete for $10,000 in a 64 car bracket race. While standing along side the fence watching some “good ole” drag racing, a spectator leans over, points, and says “that’s the man responsible for this whole operation. The guy walking away in the red hat. His name is Jack.”
I quickly left the fence side, rushing to meet this wealth of knowledge named “Jack.” And that’s how one of the most valuable, interesting, and exciting night’s that I have ever experienced, started.
80 year-old Jack Walker once watched the drag races at an old airport. He wasn’t the tallest and it wasn’t the most enjoyable experience to watch because he didn’t get to see much as tall guys cheered on their favorite racers in front of him. After leaving the airport strip one night, Jack had an idea – to build his own drag strip where racers could watch the “drags” from the top of a hill and everyone could see. And if you couldn’t see, keep walking towards the top of the hill until you could see.
(Photo Above: Jack and Sharon Walker)
And, he did just that. In 1966, Baileyton “Goodtime” Dragstrip was created.
With the flip of a light switch in the center of the track, cars battled head to head at this new facility. A-Stock, B-Stock, and other stock classes were just a few of the classes contested at this new facility, at arms reach of his backyard. In fact, Walker was one of the first facilities to start paying money, back in an era where a racer was more than pleased to win just a trophy. These folks just wanted a place to race and his wife Sharon approved it.
(Photo Above: Russ and Sasha Easterwood)
Fast forward to 50 years later, that’s right it’s the track’s 50 year Anniversary (congratulations!), the facility is still up and running as Jack’s grandson Russ Easterwood manages the operation with the help of his wife Sasha Easterwood. The place has made drastic improvements over the years and has even more plans for upgrades.
The best part about this story is that Russ not only manages the facility, but also steers one of the most famous pieces of Drag Racing history; the Tater Hauler – a wheelstanding exhibition truck built in 1967, owned by Jack.
Without going into too much detail about the “Tater Hauler,” because there’s pages and pages of history on it, this 1/8 mile wheelstander is one of a kind, and built in Jack’s garage. Several have attempted to drive this unique piece of history but at the end of the day, a man by the name of Randal Whisnant put this Hotrod in the history books.
Today, Russ does a heck of a job blasting this Big Block Powered one seater on two wheels through the 1/8 mile.
(Photo Above: Jack Walker takes Editor in Chief TJ Pruitt on a tour of the “Tater Hauler”
So, what started out as a last minute idea to visit Baileyton “Goodtime” Dragstrip to watch some drag racing, ended up in a history lesson that I will never forget. I encourage you to talk to Jack Walker, who can mostly be found along the fence near the burnout box, wearing a red hat, and smiling. Or, his wife Sharon who works in the concession stand with a team of talented women who served me one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever tasted. I promise you, this team will leave a smiling, lasting impression that will stay with you forever.
Be sure to tell them you read this article on DragCoverage.com as they celebrate their 50th Track Anniversary!