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We’ve been covering plenty of drag strip closures across the U.S. over the past several years.  Now, we have a happy report about a Kentucky racing community group bringing an old drag strip back to life. Lake Cumberland Dragway is in Jamestown, just across the border from Nashville, Tennessee, and has been closed for almost a decade.

Lake Cumberland Dragway, encompassing more than 48 acres, is a concrete eighth-mile strip that has been around since the 1990s. But in 2016, it went up for sale, with no buyers coming forward. It appeared to be yet another dragstrip fatality. Since that time, it has not held a race…until last week.

Why did Lake Cumberland Dragway end up abandoned?

Cumberland Dragstrip revival announcement for October 28-29
Cumberland Dragstrip revival announcement | Cumberland

According to 104.9 WJRS, an effort was underway to condemn the drag strip property to allow a connection between two popular access roads back in 2020. The attempt was because the county felt it “necessary for the future development of the Lake Cumberland Regional Industrial Site for the benefit of the citizens of Russell County, Kentucky, and for the maintenance of environmental suitability for future development,” according to a resolution approved by RCIDA earlier this month. 

At the end of 2020, the Russell County Industrial Authority became the new owner of the dragstrip. The plan was to expand the adjoining Lake Cumberland Regional Industrial Complex Site. At the time, the Kentucky Department of Local Government received a grant paid $360,000 for the dragstrip. Another $52,308 was paid from “local funds.” 

Can Lake Cumberland Dragway bring new revenue?

Landon Helm, event organizer/racer during an interview with LEX18 | LEX18

Back in 2009, dragstrip owner Harold Hardgrove died, which led to a revolving door of owners and racing events, which tanked out by 2016. So it is somewhat of a miracle that after all of this activity with owners and intent for the acreage that has resulted in the races this past weekend. 

The area around Lake Cumberland Dragway sees tourists flock to it during lake season. With the opening of the dragstrip, it has hopes that economic opportunities will be invigorated with the dragstrip’s schedule, according to LEX18.  

What will the opening event do for the area?

Typical scene of Cumberland Dragstrip back in 2016
Cumberland Dragstrip back in 2016 |

The event, over two days, gathered 500 participants and over 5,000 spectators. Five classes competed. “You know we have a class for everybody, from, you know, just a regular street car all the way up to a full-blown race car with 3000+ horsepower,” said Landon Helm, who has participated in the Street Outlaws drag racing series.

“The experience you’re going to get, especially with no prep is the cars are going to be crazy. Hopefully, no accidents or nothing but they’re going to ride wheelies. They’re going to be sideways, the loud noise, I mean, it’s adrenaline,” said Quinn Shireman, racer and event organizer.


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