Re: Hilo Drag Strip
Fifty years ago, this April 17, an organization now known as the Big Island Auto Club formed to promote the sport of drag racing. Its goal was to seek a location where the outlaw street racers could compete at a facility safely and legally.
In 1971, the state and county provided temporary access to the old Kona airport to host organized racing events. This was to be the club’s proving ground. Its success eventually paved the way for the construction of the Hilo Drag Strip, which opened in 1977.
To finance its endeavors, the club primarily relied on the promotion of two major racing events per year. Thus, in 1971 the annual Memorial Day and Labor Day Drags were born.
For the next four and a half decades, with the solid support of the county and other users of the facility, the club hosted these annual events and survived its share of tribulations. In fact, these events helped enable the club to be a major provider of improvements and maintenance to the drag strip during that period.
The last Memorial Day and Labor Day events occurred in 2015, marking 45 years of the club’s history. The race track was then shut down for renovations that only now are nearing completion.
On Jan. 26, the Department of Parks and Recreation conducted a meeting to schedule use dates for 2018. During that meeting, the club was informed that in the interest of “fairness,” the club was being stripped of its Memorial Day event. The date was awarded to a relatively new competing entity.
Fair? I think not!
So, beware, if you belong to a longstanding organization that relies on the use of a Hawaii County facility: Someday your history and traditions might be deemed irrelevant.