In 1871, the Houston and Texas Central Railroad (H&TC) purchased 647 acres (2.62 km2) of land in Ellis County at a price of $5.00 per acre ($12.36/ha), establishing the line's northern terminus. On May 8, 1872, this site was established as the City of Ennis. The namesake of the town was Cornelius Ennis,an early official of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. Ennis served as Mayor of Houston (1856–57), and as a director of theHouston Tap and Brazoria Railway andHouston and Texas Central Railway.
Ennis is home to the Texas Motorplex, a quarter-mile drag racing facility built in 1986 by former funny car driver Billy Meyer. It annually hosts the NHRA O'Reilly Fall Nationals each September, when hundreds of professional and amateur drag racers compete for over $2 million in prize money. In March 21, 2009, the TV show Pinks: All Out hosted a contest at the Motorplex.
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