Thunderbird Stadium & Track
Currently the dirt track itself is almost the same as it was back in the 70’s. The facilities however have undergone a major overhaul over the years. The addition of the south covered grandstands in the 80’s allowed spectators a better view of the track as well as a place to stay dry during rainy and muddy race nights. Currently other upgrades and additions are under construction as Thunderbird Stadium continues with improvements.
Through The Years
The year was 1970 and cars were being sent off Detroit’s assembly line with a fair amount of heavy steel, chrome and huge engines. Plastic, size, and economy were not yet words associated with cars and classic rock was just rock. Although derby’s had been held a few years prior to 1970 the KDDA became officially incorporated in 1970 and began it’s first racing season that summer and has sent countless cars to proper burials for the past 49 years.
The derbies began in Kitsap County when the stock car club held demos for the drivers who like to bump a little too much. The races drew good crowds and fans seemed to enjoy cars being destroyed right in front of their eyes and it didn’t take long for the drivers to catch on. Some locals still remember guys like Earl Sands and Jim Starke racing at the old stock car track in Silverdale. Central Kitsap High School Stadium is now located where the stock car track once was.
Johnny Graham, Webb Rhodes and Don Mansford each helped the KDDA become what it is today. These three men are still listed as KDDA Lifetime members and their families participate behind the scenes each race night helping to bring crashing and smashing to all.
A Saturday night in Kitsap County wouldn’t be the same without the smell of burnt rubber and exhaust fumes that billow up in the sky from some of Thunderbird Stadium’s fiercest warriors. With continued support from the fans, county, drivers, and driver’s families the KDDA will be able to provide shows to delight us all for many years to come!
There is a story from the 70’s involving Webb Rhodes, a roll-over ramp and a convertible with out a roll-cage! Rhodes had a seat belt mounted to the passenger side floorboard that he grabbed while the car was flipping over to keep his body below the doors. This is something from the past that would never be allowed today because of driver safety and insurance concerns.
The addition of roll bars, side irons, removal of all glass, better gas tanks, and racing harnesses have helped countless drivers enjoy crashing and still walk away. Rules are constantly being updated in the interest of safety to insure that all drivers are safe.
The cars seen on the track today were just coming off the assembly line or not even in existence when the club first started smashing. Most cars that you see at the track today are from the 65-75 era and are much stronger than stock. In the early years it wasn’t uncommon to see a 55 Oldsmobile and 57 Desoto trading paint along with fenders. Seeing a car from the 50’s these days on the track is less than likely as they are far to rare and collectible!
Mini car racing began as a special event in the early 80’s and grew so much in popularity that in the late 80’s they were granted their own class and became a regular race night event.