Urban Exploration: Beeline Dragway Part 2 – Disappeared

Odometer (Legend):  533,911

533911

Odometer (ILX):  132,763

132763

Thanks, mom, for always digging up the best pictures to post on Facebook.  This gem from about 1995 was shared today.  I’m at far right, breaking every fashion rule imaginable in those socks & sandles.  And didn’t I look thrilled to be waiting for the parade?

4th_Jul

Happy 4th of July weekend, and I hope you’re all as festive as my family was.

Someone named Damon in Ohio is giving me a run for my mileage.  He posted on Wednesday to Acura’s Facebook page after hitting 500,000 miles in his 2002 Acura TL.  That comes out to a little over 38,000 miles per year.  Impressive.  Apparently he drives 200 miles round-trip to his job.  Keep the miles coming, Damon.

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Just a quick post for today.  Urban Exploration:

Urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment. Photography and historical interest/documentation are heavily featured in the hobby and, although it may sometimes involve trespassing onto private property, this is not always the case.

It was a little over a year ago (May 2014) when I let my curiosity get the best of me and finally went wandering around inside an abandoned automotive racetrack called Beeline Dragway that had been unused since about the late 1970’s.  The dragstrip’s run in operation was short lived, at only a little over a decade.

There wasn’t much left to see when I stopped by 15 months ago except for a graffiti-ridden, concrete, 3-story tower which once housed the announcer and equipment.  The quarter-mile asphalt lanes had long since been dug up:

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Since I drive past that same location every weekday on my commute home via Highway 87, it dawned on me the other day that I couldn’t see the tower any longer.

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“That’s odd,” I thought.  Why would they decide to finally tear a building down that had already been abandoned for 4 decades?  Was there some trouble going on in there perhaps?  So, I pulled off the highway and started cruising around in search of any remains for the building.  I found this particular concrete slab, but the location just didn’t feel right.  I clearly remembered being further east than this.

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Taking a step back.  “Nope, this still doesn’t seem like where it was.”

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So I went driving around on the dirt paths out there.

beeline_2

And a little more.

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And, then I had an idea.  Google Maps.  If I pulled up the satellite view, it would probably have an older image that would still show where the concrete tower & staircase used to stand.  BINGO.  I zoomed in and saw the rectangular shape, and I drove my ILX over to park directly in front of where that building used to stand.  I was the blue dot here.

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These are the photos I took in that spot, where the building would have been in the background.

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Nothing now remains aside from a few chunks of blacktop.

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Another Phoenix landmark gone by the wayside, much like Bill Johnson’s Big Apple and Pinnacle Peak Patio.

EDIT:  Thanks to loyal reader and local Phoenix resident Hy, I’ve been granted permission to post a few exclusive pics from the Beeline Dragway dating back to 1978.  Hy attended the “Winter Nationals” event in February of that year and snapped these shots:

beeline1

beeline2

Special guest for the occasion was Billy Carter, brother of then-president Jimmy Carter.  Here he is riding atop a 1978 Corvette.

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Thank you very much for sharing these pictures!

Hope everyone has a safe & fun holiday weekend.

6 Responses to “Urban Exploration: Beeline Dragway Part 2 – Disappeared”

  1. Tyson,

    One of the first “events” I was taken to when visiting Phoenix in ’78 was Beeline Dragway by a friend who recently relocated here from N.Y.

    It was February 1978 and the Winter Nationals were being held at the time. Just to illustrate how “big league” Phoenix was even back then their guest of honor was none other than Billy Carter (President Carter’s late brother) who was promoting his “Billy Beer.”

    LOL, guess the chamber of commerce must have thought it was a good idea.

    • This is awesome! Thank you for sharing that piece of history. Even in all my Googling, I was able to find very few pictures from the Dragway’s days in operation. I’m amazed at how many people were out showing their support, and at how over the years since, the entire facility has gone back to desert. Now, where can I get some of that Billy Beer?

  2. Cool write up! Always happy to see another high mileage Acura still going.

  3. strange how nature takes back over, like it wasn’t even there!

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