Eagle, ID — Three years after owners of Idaho’s Firebird Raceway first met with the Idaho State Historical Society, the state agency recently announced the raceway’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s the first drag strip to receive the designation.
The National Park Service added Firebird to the National Register in late December, but the official announcement was delayed until early February by the federal government shutdown.
Firebird Raceway was started in July 1968 by Bill and Ellanor New and has remained in the same family for 50 years. Early on, the strip gained NHRA sanctioning, and New convinced Bob Riggle to bring his Hemi Under Glass wheelstander Barracuda for opening night.
The drag strip has attracted many of the sport’s top drivers — from Don Garlits to Shirley Muldowney to Tommy Ivo — and also claims to host the country oldest continuously-running bracket racing tournament as well as one of the country longest-running high school drag racing programs. In the latter program, students can earn sports letters in drag racing.
In a statement on Firebird’s website, track manager Scott New said, “The New family is so proud and we know this acknowledgement serves to underscore all the hard work our founder, the late Bill New and his wife Ellanor, accomplished when they first built and cultivated Firebird literally from the ground up in 1968. At the same time, this fortifies, bolsters and strengthens Firebird’s footprint in western Idaho for many generations.
A listing on the federal National Register of Historic Places does not necessarily protect a property from development, but it does make the property eligible for tax incentives and grants intended to help preserve historic properties.