By Corey Ascolani
Cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other types of vehicles get a chance to race at the Coles County Dragway.
Rod Viehland, co-owner of the drag way, said people race all types of vehicles.
“We have a guy this year driving a 2001 family style four-door Hyundai in second place for points,” Viehland said. “Even motorcycles and lawnmowers are allowed.”
Coles County Dragway is a 1/8th mile, National Hot Rod Association series track, and offers ‘Friday Fun Night’ at 5 p.m. where anyone off the street can race.
“All you need is a running vehicle,” Viehland said. “Regular days’ clothes work great (for racers), besides the restriction of a non-sleeveless shirt and pants, the only thing required is shoes that cover your entire foot to race.”
Darwin Korson, the other co-owner of the drag way, said racers do not even need a helmet for “Friday Night Fun.” He also said passengers can be in the car being raced even though the car will be slower.
It costs $10 for spectators to get through the gate. The drag way has a concession stand, bathrooms, viewing stands and many race vehicles to look at.
“Spectators are allowed to bring their own grilles to cook, and bring their own drinks including alcohol, no bottles,” Viehland said.
Besides “Friday Fun Night,” the drag way offers a variety of races or brackets throughout the weekend. In some, like the “Big Money Brackets,” racers can win money in first, second and third places. Racers can bet against each other as well.
“We regularly have racers that drive over two hours that come here week after week to race,” Viehland said, “We have racers from 8-year-olds to 60-year-olds.”
Some racers are in clubs, like the ‘Eastern Illinois Rat Racers’ or the ‘Lakeland College Auto club.’
Kassie Wilson, a junior special education major, drives without a team. She currently races her 1999 Camaro, and has been racing at Coles County Dragway more than six years.
“The racers are very friendly and helpful,” she said. “Most racers know each other by name.”
Wilson said racers help other racers as well. Viehland agreed with Wilson.
“Last week we had a guy who needed a starter for his car to continue racing for the night,” Viehland said. “We announced the part over the drag way speakers and within minutes the guy had three starters waiting for him to use to race.”
The Coles County Dragway has been around since the early 1960s.
It is a few minutes west of downtown Charleston on West State Road (State Route 316).
Viehland said depending on weather, they are open every weekend from early April to late October.
Corey Ascolani can
be reached at 581-2812 or