In the mid to late 50s a group of young men from the White Hall, Illinois area formed a Car Club and adopted the name "Conquistadores". In 1959 this group set out on a new adventure. Not satisfied to just have club meetings and attend the drag races at the few local tracks in the area, they decided to host their own races. The first events were held on the horse track at the Greene County Fair Grounds East of Carrollton, Illinois. Since none of the members were of 'Legal Age' the board members for the County Fair Grounds informed the members that they needed an Adult Advisor who would be responsible for the activities. David Graham was a businessman in Carrollton and a huge racing fan. David stepped up to the plate and took on the role. Without Dave's faith in us none of this might have happened. Sadly, we lost Dave on Fathers' Day weekend, 2015. Godspeed my friend. You will never be forgotten.
Now back to the story. It was tough to get a 1/8 mile strip on the oval horse track, and the shut-down area was interesting to say the least. After two short seasons, the club moved its operation to a hilltop field just north of White Hall on the East side of Route 106, better known as the Winchester Road. This was the unofficial 'birth' of the White Hall Drag-O-Way. The members cleared and leveled the area, hauled in tons of good clay material and worked it into the existing soil to make a hard-packed racing surface. This track served the club well and drew quite a crowd for its Sunday afternoon and Tuesday night races.
In 1964 the club moved the track to an area at the north edge of White Hall adjacent to Illinois Route 267. The crowds followed and actually increased as the word spread about the 1/8 mile dirt dragstrip. Many popular racers attended the Tuesday night events at White Hall and most of those racers were surprised at the traction available from the hard packed smooth clay racing surface. It was not at all unusual to see front wheels in the air at the starting line, and smiles on the faces of many of the drivers.
In early 1968 the club made a bold decision to once again move the track to a location Southeast of White Hall. As with the previous locations, the strip was built using mostly club member labor with the generous assistance and donation of time and equipment from the local city and townships. However, this strip would present a new challenge; it would be asphalt. The hours, days, weeks and months passed. The members learned about grading, paving, electrical work, setting poles and hanging the lighting, setting poles for the guardrail, running the wiring for the timing equipment, and other tasks too numerous to mention. They even built much of the timing equipment, copying pieces borrowed or purchased from other strips.
The strip opened in late 1968 but the first full season of racing at the new asphalt strip was in 1969. The starting line had an overlay of special asphalt mix called 'trap rock'. It was a much finer consistency than the normal mix and was touted to give superior traction. Unfortunately it didn't wear as well as the more coarse mix, and within a few years there were thin spots where the rear tires sat. Just another learning experience.
Competition between the area strips was friendly, although serious. All the strips were competing to draw as many racers and spectators as possible to fund the 'purses' they paid back to the racers. At the same time general operating expenses, such as insurance, were increasing and the pressure was on. Eventually the competition took its toll and most of the smaller strips had to close their gates. The final year of operation for the Original White Hall Drag-O-Way organization was 1975.
A couple of other organizations tried their hands at running the asphalt strip at White Hall but neither of them had much better luck than the White Hall boys. By 1980 there was nothing left of the race facility but the lonely asphalt ribbon,........................ and tons of great memories.