Skyview Drags Track History
Since the first hot rodders hit the streets in the late 1940's with their flathead Fords, there have been drag racers who call the Southern Tier home. Some of them like Wally Bell and Bob Chipper have gone on to national success, but for half a century they lacked a permanent facility to race on their home turf.
Oval track racers have always had a choice of paved and dirt tracks along the Route 17 corridor, but once the Tri-Cities Dragway on the airport runway west of Endicott closed, drag racing was restricted to improvised locations like the front straight at the Tioga Motorsports Park oval. For a first-class place to race, Southern Tier racers had to venture north to Cicero, west to Leicester, NY or south to Numidia or Beaver Springs, PA.
Tioga Center entrepreneur George Swansbrough bought the former Skyline Amusement Park in 1999. Located on a hilltop east of the village with a panoramic view of the Susquehanna Valley, it provided a good base for the heavy equipment used in his various businesses. George was a racer; a stock car racer, but with plenty of contacts among the area drag racing fraternity. He became convinced that a permanent drag strip on the Skyline property was a good business proposition.
The specs were simple: an eighth-mile strip with concrete launching pad and the sort of modern pit and spectator facilities that not only suited the competitors, but made it possible to attract major sanctioned events and crowd-pleasing exhibitions. Bringing the concept to reality was tougher. A drag strip, by definition, is straight and level. There was nothing level about the property on the ridge, so major excavation and fill were needed before the strip and pit area could be built.
Work started in 2003 and in July 2004, the gates to Skyview Drags swung open for the first time. A key to the success of Skyview was its association with the International Hot Rod Association. IHRA has sanctioned the track from its opening and Skyview received the National Sportsman Track of the Year Award in 2007 and Pro Am Track of the Year Award in 2008.
Special IHRA sanctioned events in 2010 will include the return of the Pro Am Series and the inaugural Ironman Classic. The always popular jet car exhibition nights are set for July 10 and September 4.
Never a man to stand on his accomplishments, George Swansbrough set out to do for the area's paved track stock car racers what he had done for the drag racing community, and in 2009 Skyview Drags was joined by a sister track, Shangri-La II Motor Speedway, a half-mile oval which pioneers the use of concrete for short track racing. On Saturdays during the racing season, a single ticket admits fans to both tracks for a motorsports experience unavailable anywhere else
Building Skyview Drags!