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Dragstrip shoots for stars

WHITE CITY — Track operator Justin Goodlett envisions big things as Medford Dragstrip gains a new track surface.

Goodlett, who took on his role prior to the 2018 season, has helped orchestrate the laying of concrete and asphalt surfaces at the facility. The repaving will be a major facelift for a surface originally installed in 1979. The upgrade, which included the expansion of the concrete racing surface from 100 feet to 330 feet, should attract the attention of the National Hot Rod Association, Goodlett said.

“That’s what I’m hoping,” the 41-year-old Sams Valley resident said. “It’ll draw a lot of people.”

Goodlett replaced Shirlene Bramson as track operator of the one-quarter-mile drag strip located at Jackson County Sports Park. Bramson serves the same role at Redding Dragstrip.

“I was just a racer at (Medford Dragstrip) and blew the motor out of my (1940 Chevrolet hot rod) when she was running it,” said Goodlett, who graduated from South Medford High in 1995 and who now owns Goodlett Automotive in Central Point. “I thought I could give her a hand and help. ... She didn’t want to run two tracks.”

The raceway has been in existence since 1979, and Goodlett has raced there since he was teenager. Many people have talked about repaving the track, Goodlett said, but he wanted to take action.

After signing a five-year lease, Goodlett turned the drag strip into a nonprofit to help make the dream a reality. The $207,000 project received a $100,000 contribution from The Kimmel Family Foundation, about $10,000 in additional donations and an interest-free loan. Those interested in donating can visit PayPal.Me/MedfordDragstrip or medforddragstrip.com.

Goodlett himself works unpaid hours to get the job done. The track is owned by the county.

“It’s a labor of love,” he said.

The 2018 spring season was a success, Goodlett said. Among the highlights were the showcasing of racers from the popular Discovery Channel show Street Outlaws and the raising of $12,000 for children with cancer, he added.

“We had record attendance,” said Goodlett, whose wife Jody runs the concession stand.

Once the track opens for the 2019 spring season, Goodlett will have two races each year devoted to similar philanthropy in addition to all the other traditional events. The hope, he said, is to eventually hand off track operator duties to someone else once the operation is firmly established.

“Once it’s sustainable, I’d like to hire someone to run it where I can take a little bit of a back seat and watch it take off,” Goodlett said.

Asphalt is also being replaced wall to wall and 100 feet past the finish line at the venue, which Goodlett said can host 4,000 to 5,000 spectators. The project should be completed around the end of the month.

It’s a perfect place for an NHRA race, he said.

“It’s going to allow us to draw cars from all over the West Coast,” Goodlett added.

Jackson County Sports Park also plays host to Southern Oregon Speedway, which concludes its season on Saturday.

Reach freelance writer Dan Jones at dljcards@gmail.com

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