Drag Illustrated Issue 177, July / August 2022 - Page 30

Dirt

A New Union

New owner John Bartunek and longtime manager Tony Brown work together to make Union Dragway a success By Van Abernethy

South Carolina ’ s Union Dragway is among the newest dragstrip constructions within the Palmetto state , having their grand opening on July 4th weekend in 2009 under the ownership of Curtis Teems . While Teems owned the property until 2021 , the track has been managed by a variety of people over the years , most consistently by Tony Brown , whose involvement dates back to 2010 . Brown

himself has even been the leaseholder multiple times during the track ’ s existence .
Brown was , in fact , running the show at Union and holding the lease when IHRA ’ s Mike Baker called Brown to ask if the property could be bought . After learning that the interested party was none other than longtime Pro Mod and Pro Stock racer John Bartunek , Brown said he was definitely willing to have that conversation .
Many meetings followed and , in the end , Bartunek was successful in his bid to buy Union Dragway in April 2021 , and even got his wish for Brown to remain in place as his track manager . “ It was more of a requirement !” says Bartunek . “ Having Tony stay on as track manager was actually the most important part . We ’ ve become the best of friends and I think the world of him .”
The two are now navigating this tidy IHRAsanctioned eighth-mile facility with fresh ideas and according to Brown , “ John is not afraid to spend money in the right places .” Some of those places you can ’ t always see , such as new underground wiring , which was desperately needed . The PA system was also updated , along with tons of new track lighting , along with a new heat and air system for the tower . The all-concrete track surface stretches about 100 feet past the finish line , with just shy of 2,000 feet of stopping distance . Plans to install a sand trap and net for an added layer of safety are also being discussed .
Bartunek and Brown even examine additional revenues streams , which would utilize more of the facility . “ We ’ ve got 128 acres here , but we ’ re only using roughly three quarters of it . We ’ ve discussed everything from installing a go-kart track to a par-3 golf course ,” Brown says .
Soaring inflation has caused a brief pause in short-term plans , including additional paving . “ Eventually , we ’ d like to do more paving , but the prices have doubled recently ,” Brown says .
PHOTOGRAPHS BY VAN ABERNETHY
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