21°N, 159°W - Those
coordinates put you about as far west as you can go in the
United States - well, except for the far reaches of Alaska
that no one ever visits anyway. You are in middle of the Pacific
on the island of Kauai, the oldest of the Hawaiian islands.
At the western most edge of the island, between a tiny island
town and the Pacific Missile
Range Facility (presumably created when the Japanese were
threatening us with suicide planes instead of hybrid cars)
is the least expected of sites - a dragstrip. We're not talking
about some makeshift 1/8th mile stretch of runway either,
this is a full ¼ mile strip that most importantly is
still very active.
It is truly a strange site in this part of the world where
empty beaches and lush tropical forests dominate the landscape.
I would not have even know the track existed if I hadn't seen
the other rarity on the island, a Ford muscle car. While stopping
in at the Wal Mart in Lihue, the islands main "city",
I heard the familiar sounds of a 5.0L aftermarket exhaust
system. The black convertible 1995 Mustang GT pulled into
the parking spot beside me. Going through Ford Muscle withdrawals
I quickly commended the driver on the clean
This sign at the main gas station in Kehaka was the only
warning that a drag strip was nearby.
looking ride and melodious exhaust note. The driver introduced
himself as Walt and told me he was headed out to the dragstrip.
I had to ask him to clarify, as that was one word not in my
The next thing I knew I was driving the circumference of the
island to check out the tropical drag racing scene. After
all, I was on vacation and had nothing better to do.
Walt told me to just drive west until I hit the tiny beach
front town of Kekaha, population 3000. Go through the town
and just a few miles out "You'll see the sign, turn there."
Coming from California where signs are overstated, I expected
to see something quite significant. It took me several u-turns
to finally spot the sagging banner aside a dirt road that
said "Drag Racing Tonight. Garden Isle Raceway."
I was a few hours early so I drove back about a half-mile
to the endless stretch of deserted beach that signifies the
western side of the island. There I slept in the sun until
it was racing time.
At 3pm I made my way down the dirt road which lead from the
highway towards the beach side race track. While I wasn't
at all concerned about the Grand Am rental car I was driving,
I wondered how race
This banner along the edge of a dirt road is the only
sign signifying you have reached Mana Raceway in Kauai.
Chances are you'll drive by it dozen times before seeing
cars managed to get down this narrow and rutted road without
scraping headers and bottoming out drag shocks.
If the roadway to the entry gate doesn't convince you that this
is unlike any other drag strip you've ever been to, then the
site from the gate will surely do it. Mana Raceway Park is set
just yards from the ocean. In fact, if you missed all the turnoffs
for the return road at the end of the dragstrip, you'd drive right into the Pacific.
Mana is small time in a good way. There were no more than
50 cars the Friday night I was there, and that may have been
a busy night. Everybody seemed to know everybody, but more
importantly everybody seemed to be enjoying each others company.
The atmosphere was easy
If you hate crowded staging lanes then Mana is the place
for you. With less than fifty cars you roll up an run
with minimal wait.
going. Guys would make a pass then pull the car into the
pits and take their time before the next run. There was plenty
of time to make runs before the bracket racing started.
There was only one classic Ford racing that night, a 1970
Mustang, . The only other Fords racing were a trio of 5.0's,
including Walt and his 1995 GT, and a pair of 2006 GT's, one
bone stock and the other with a Vortech supercharger.
Tante Azare's 1970 Mustang I got a chance to talk to Tante Azares and his niece,
Kerri Villa. The uncle and niece team race Tante's clean 1970
Mustang fastback. They both are born and raised Kauaian's
who have a passion for Ford's and drag racing.
Kauai natives Tante Azares and his niece Kerri Villa race
the fresh yellow 1970 Mustang fastback. Tante owns the
car and Kerri drives. Their good friend Jim McFarland
helps with the mechanical duties.
The engine is a 351W bored over to yield 358 cid. Tante
selected Canfield 215cc heads and a 232/236 solid roller
cam with .535 lift and 112 LSA. Through a Toploader and
Believe it or not Tante's '70 was the only early Ford
at this dragstrip. There were two 05-06 Mustangs, and
a three fox-body's. Tante says there aren't very many
early Ford's on the island.
The car has a fresh paint job. Tante had the tail light
panel finished in gloss black. Looks mean!
Kerri pilot's the Mustang to consistent 12.30's at 114mph.
The car is easily 11 second capable if they can improve
on the 1.89 sixty-foot times. However the Muscle V8 class
limits them to 12.0's, and the car must be streetable
Most girls who drag race do so with automatics. Not Kerri
Villa! You gotta respect a girl that can drag race. (The
hair clip thingy in the center console seems out of place
in this muscle car though.)
Tante has put in a small fuel cell
and relocated the battery to the trunk for better weight
distribution. He's using a Flaming River push-pull style
disconnect switch, cleanly mounted through the tail light
a video clip below of Kerri making a run at Mana Raceway in
Tante tells me that Mana is real special track. I could feel
it just walking around the pits. Not only is it the furthest
West drag strip in the United States, but it is really a community
oriented track. Everyone is very friendly and out to help
each other. Tante, Kerri and their friend Joe McFarland drive
the car from the otherside of the island - no trailers for
this team. Tante even takes the car on a barge to neighboring
islands to race on the tracks on Maui and the big-island of
If you ever plan a trip to Hawaii, find yourself some time
to make it out to Mana Raceway on Kauai. It's a paradise within
a paradise, and truely and experience you'll remember.
Posted by F15Falcon, 05/20/07 04:12pm: Sounds like a good time. Why is it that some of the best racing is always out in the middle of no where?Posted by kblackav8or, 05/20/07 10:06pm: There is a track on Oahu or at least there used to be. I did an even there in about 2000 and found the track to be pretty rough.Posted by Elbeam2000, 05/21/07 08:14am: I never knew that the strip was there and I was stationed at PMRF many times for about a week at a time during the 5 years I was stationed on Oahu. The Drag stip on Oahu isn't bad I was a regular there with many of my friends.Its pretty busy on Firday and Saturday nights.Posted by 57Custom, 05/23/07 07:29am: Actually, there's a drag strip even further west in the Pacific and on US soil - in the US territory of Guam - mostly tuners running there though.Posted by strtcar, 05/24/07 07:45am: I sent to Hawaii for 2 weeks on my honeymoon and one night took my wife to the this dragstrip, it was a blast.Posted by edhand, 05/24/07 01:00pm: Unfourtunatly for those of us on Oahu, the strip shut down last year due to land lease issues. They are trying to build a new one, but it will probably be several years before it's even approved.Posted by KVilla, 06/25/07 12:53pm: Kerri, the driver here...it is awesome to see coverage of not only our Mustang, but the beautiful island we live on! Thank you Chirag Asaravala, Editor. I wanted to note that a few of our team members was not mentioned as we were busy making runs, etc. and I wanted to personally acknowledge their talents. Bobby Barros of Auto Sylin' & Performance did the body work and paint job, assisted by his brother Mark Barros and good friend Richie Rapozo. Roy Higa is the "MacGyver" of the team and does alot of the fabrication for all of our cars. Bobby & Roy drive their own race cars as well. If you are planning a trip to Kauai, let us know and come check us out and the Aloha Spirit we possess! You must be an FM Member and logged in to post a comment.
In This Article:
Out in the Pacific Ocean, in the middle of a
tropical paradise, is where you'd last expect
to come across a drag strip. Yet that is exactly
where I found one of the best tracks I've ever
been to. Mana Raceway in Kauai is the furthest
point West in the USA that you'll find racing.
This is a satellite view of Mana Raceway
in Kauai. If you happen to miss all of the return road exits and
you'll end up driving right into the Pacific. (Source: Google Earth)
Kauai has the most beach line of all the
Hawaiian islands. The dragstrip is on the west side of the island
- which is dry and flat, almost desert like.
A mile of dirt road gets you from the main
highway to the dragstrip. That is, if you correctly navigate the
fork in the road.
When you see the shack off in the distance
you have arrived at Mana Raceway. Just a stones throw from the
beach, this is a drag racing in paradise.
The islands are all about friendly people
and relaxed attitudes. This was just as evident in the commaraderie
and socializing in the staging lanes.
If it weren't for this car I would never
have known about Mana Raceway in Kauai. The Owner, Walt, was generous
enough to give me directions and a free press pass. Unfortunately
I never saw him at the track. Turns out he runs the timing lights
in the booth. Thanks Walt!