by Jim Amos

This two hour and twenty-seven minute original movie production traces the history of Aquasco Speedway, Capitol Raceway and Cecil County Dragway. The story is told by Julio Marra who is the son-in-law of Mr. Al Procopio principal owner of Aquasco Speedway. Mr. Procopio purchased a piece of land in Maryland and in 1956 turned it into the first purpose built quarter mile drag strip in the mid-Atlantic area. The Procopio family also owned Capitol Raceway and in 1962 they built Cecil County Dragway. Julio provides an inside look at the business end of running the drag strips and the historic events that were hosted at the tracks.

The video contains movie footage showing drag racing action at all three tracks. In it you will see Pro Stockers, Blown Funny Cars, Top Fuel Dragsters, Gassers, Altereds, Super Stockers and Stock class vehicles. 

The video begins with the story of building Aquasco and the segment includes movie footage from 1960. Most of the vehicles shown are street cars but we also show a rear-engine Chrysler Hemi powered dragster called Nasty I. Don Kilby and Paul Osmond built the car in their shop called Modifications Unlimited in Kensignton, Md. Paul Osmond was the driver of the car. This car was way ahead of its time, for sure.

Julio tells us of Dickie Gore building the first drag strip in the mid-Atlantic area in 1953, however, it was a 1/5 mile track. We show some movie footage from Old Dominion just to give you an idea of what it looked like back in 1965. 

Julio explains some of the difficulties they faced while building the track and then of a controversy surrounding the tracks use of segregated rest rooms and food service. This is an interesting story and it reflects on the period of time when the entire country was opening up to racial integration. We also include an interview with Malcolm Durham where he talks about some of the problems he faced in the 1960's as a black drag racer.

In 1963 Aquasco hosted the first East Coast National Event of any kind (NHRA, AHRA or IHRA) when Jim Tice brought his AHRA Summer Nationals to Aquasco on June 7 - 8 - 9, 1963. Even though we do not have any film footage of the race we are able to tell the story through Julio’s recollection and some still photos. Very interesting story.

Our next segment moves to the Mid-1960's and we have some great movie footage of Aquasco when it was conducting weekly drag races during that time frame. The segment includes a match race between Ronnie Sox with his altered wheel base 1965 Plymouth and Malcolm Durham’s 1965 Chevelle. The movie footage shows many of the local racers and their special vehicles racing at Aquasco. Interestingly they used a flag starter at Aquasco until the Summer of 1965.

The next segment tells the story of how the Procopio’s took over ownership of Capitol Raceway in 1964. Capitol had been open since 1962 but floundered before going bankrupt in 1964. Mr. Procopio purchased the track at a public auction and began to make improvements to the track. Julio eventually was asked to manage the track and it became a successful venture for the family. We show you some great footage from the 1966/1967 era at Capitol and it includes Dragsters, Gassers, Altereds and Junior Stockers. One of the dragster pilot’s was Joe Jacono and we do a special feature about Joe’s racing career.  

Julio discovered he had a knack for creating promotions that played in front of a packed house at both Aquasco and Capitol. One of his most successful promotions was the President’s Gold Cup of Drag Racing at Aquasco. We have extensive coverage of both the 1965 and 1966 President’s Gold Cup race. You will see some famous and not so famous racers as they competed at the events.

We also hear Julio tell the story of the crash in which Tex Randall was killed. Tex was a local Fuel Dragster racer who had just purchased a new car from Big Daddy Don Garlits and he was competing at the 1965 President’s Cup. Julio outlines the cause of the accident and how the drag racing community responded to the tragedy.

Next Julio tells of the Prokopio family’s building of Cecil County Dragway in 1963. We have also included an interview with Cecil County long time starter Lance Keen in which he provides information about the track and some of the milestone events held there. Our movie footage includes racing from 1963 to 1967. We also show some footage from the 1966 Car’s Magazine Super Stock International race as well as the Super Stock and Drag Illustrated Magazine 1967 Super Stock Nationals.

We return to Aquasco for the story of how eight car funny car match races were so popular in the early 1970's. Julio tells us how he used booking agents like Frank LeSueur and Ben Christ to bring in a strong field of cars. We even include an interview with Frank LeSueur where he tells us how much it cost to book in an eight car Funny Car or Pro Stock match race. We also include movie footage of an eight car match race at Aquasco.

Julio also shared some funny and interesting stories about his time at Aquasco and Capitol. He remembers when Jack Chrisman showed up at Aquasco in 1964 with his Supercharged Mercury Comet and the time he booked in Lew Arington’s Brutus Pontiac. Little did he know that Lew was using a driver by the name of Jim Liberman. Of course Jim Liberman went on to be called Jungle Jim but not so when he first appeared at Aquasco. You will surely chuckle at Julio telling the story.

The final segment is dedicated to the closing of Aquasco in 1978. Julio tells us the story of what happened and the ultimate end of racing at the track. I did a location shoot of the Aquasco property and it was spooky seeing the old timing tower, the refreshment stand, the spectator grandstands and what is left of the pit area, staging lanes and racing surface.  

The racing footage in this production has dubbed-in car sounds and relative narration. The sounds are pretty close to what you would hear at the track but they are not the original sounds. I think it beats a background of music or worse yet totally silent footage. We also did a lot of research to provide the most accurate description of the racing footage and its related storyline. Hopefully this video will give you a greater appreciation of the way things were or perhaps just a happy reminder of times gone by.  

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1957 - 1978

DVD #027