<%@ Language=JavaScript %> ..:: Maryland Int'l Raceway  -  Budds Creek, MD  ::..


Maryland Int'l Raceway  •  27861 Budds Creek Road  •  Mechanicsville, MD  20659

301-884-9833 (Office)  •  301-884-9878 (Fax)  •  info@mirdrag.com

 
  2012 MIR Legends Hall of Fame Inductee
  


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Bill Cairns
MIR Owner from 1967-1972

Bill Cairns saved MIR from certain destruction, and then he introduced it to the drag racing world. Bill ushered in the era of big pro shows, including perhaps the first all-pro show in drag racing history. From 1967 to 1972, the innovations Bill Cairns introduced to drag racing at his newly named Budds Creek Dragway continue to this day.

Bill Cairns wanted to be a drag racer since he was a young kid in Boston. He loved cars from the age of 10 and eventually raced at Sanford, Maine, until entering the Navy. After the Navy, Bill raced at nearby Aquasco Raceway. Back in those days, Budds Creek, Maryland, was considered far away from everything. Bill drove by one day during a snowstorm and noticed a For Sale sign. He thought about it for about an hour and then called. He asked if the current owners would lease it to him for a year but they were tired of pilots using the track for touch and go landings and hot rodders sneaking in to use the asphalt after hours. They did not want the liability anymore so they told Bill this was his last chance to buy it or they would bust up the black top. Bill talked them into letting him rent it for a year and then he did buy it. If he hadn't done that, MIR would not be here today.

When Bill bought the property, there were no grandstands or lights for running at night. He put in 3000 seat grandstands, and then installed the track’s first set of lights. With the help of friends from the electric company and John Calder, who headed a construction company, Bill and the team were able to put up all the light poles and wire them up over two weekends! One of Bill's proudest moments was the night they turned on the lights for the first time.

Bill also put in nice rest rooms and rebuilt the snack bars so that they were fast, efficient, and had great food. He bought the timing clocks from previous owner Joe Laroque, and credits Joe with building the biggest and best track in the country. It was 100 feet wide and a mile long... all the other tracks in the country were 60 feet wide and 3000 feet long.

Bill pitched in with all the jobs. He announced, did tech inspection, and in doing so, got to know all the racers, who really supported him, including many from Virginia, who finally had a closer place to race than Richmond.

Bill introduced the world to Budds Creek Dragway by putting on perhaps the first pro-only show in drag racing history. It was considered one of the best shows ever held. Held on a Wednesday night in June 1970, the show followed the NHRA Summernationals in Englishtown, New Jersey, where all the best cars in the country were just hours away. Bill signed up the best 16 fuel funny cars, 16 top fuel dragsters, four Fuel Altereds, four Supercharged Gassers, and a couple of wheelstanders!

The names read like a who's who of drag racing: The Snake, the Mongoose, the Hawaiian, Jungle Jim, Brutus, the Chi Town Hustler, Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, Connie Kalitta, the Fighting Irish, Ohio George, Big John Mazmanian, S&S Speed Shop, Wild Bill Shrewsberry, and many more.

Six thousand people showed up to watch the event, which started at 8pm sharp and ended at 11pm sharp! Bill always started his shows on time to the MINUTE, with the funny cars firing up during the last five beats of the National Anthem. Bill said he got letters for months with folks thanking him for the great show and for getting them home in time to go to work the next day. After this race, everybody knew about Budds Creek Dragway!

Another innovation was four wide funny car racing. Bill was one of the very first to run cars four wide. His first race was the Hawaiian, Charlie Allen, the Hill Bros, and the Mori Bros. The Mori's little ChevWagon got a head start but the nitro funny cars blew by them at the finish line! Bill had three four wide events before deciding to stop pushing his luck with the NHRA!

Bill and his wife ran Budds Creek Dragway for six years without one paid employee. He would run his used car dealership and gas station during the day and run the track at night and weekends with the help of a group of volunteers! Bill had been stationed at Pax River, and all the folks who worked at the track were Navy friends who had stayed in the Southern Maryland area after leaving the service. Bill says he never could have run Budds Creek Dragway without these great volunteers.

Despite the successes, the weather had not been a friend to Bill. But a perfect storm occurred in late 1973, when he got the opportunity to buy a Pontiac franchise, which became the famous Bill Cairns Pontiac. At the same time, Tod Mack and Larry Clayton made an offer to buy the track. It was perfect timing, and Bill sold the property to Tod and Larry, who renamed it Maryland International Raceway, a name that survives to this day.

Bill Cairns took beautiful St. Mary's Drag-O-Way, saved it from the jackhammer, and then introduced it to the top names in professional drag racing as Budds Creek Dragway. These efforts provided the springboard to the successes of the following 40 years. Thank you, Bill Cairns, a true Legend of Budds Creek.

 

 

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