4 Tracks the NHRA Should Consider to Replace Houston Raceway Park

Along with the news that Houston Raceway Park will vanish following its April 2022 Camping World Drag Racing Series event, the NHRA reassured fans that it will find a replacement for the Baytown, Texas, venue that has been a fixture on the schedule since 1988.

“As NHRA looks to the future, the leadership team continues its conversations with Tulsa Raceway Park, and other venues not currently on the circuit, to fill the spot of the Houston event in future NHRA seasons,” the sanctioning body said in the announcement Wednesday.

Among the other possible candidates to join the circuit are South Georgia Motorsports Park (pictured above), at Valdosta, Ga., and National Trail Raceway, at Hebron, Ohio, near Columbus. And, for a real longshot, it’s worth looking at Calverton Executive Airpark on New York’s Long Island.

“I would love a national event. Hopefully they will consider SGMP,” track owner Ozzy Moya told Autoweek.

We go back to 1988 and Ron Dudley’s funny car fire. This fire would go down in NHRA history as one of the biggest fires. Ron had to be airlifted after the fire to Columbus. He would eventually make a full recovery.#nationaltrailraceway #nhra #vintagedragracing #nitro pic.twitter.com/P7DqxrOtun

National Trail Raceway, a former NHRA-owned property, is busy through Sunday with JEGS Speedweek, featuring NHRA sportsman racers in a JEGS SPORTSnationals specialty event followed by a Division 3 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event that gives the country’s best grassroots racers twice as many chances to win and earn points. Track owner Jay Livingston, who bought the facility in 2018, has plenty of experience. As a youngster, he grew up watching (and working for) his father Jim, who owned Woodburn Raceway in Oregon. He later became a co-owner there after stints managing Spokane County Raceway and Seattle’s Pacific Raceways in Washington State.

JEGS spokesman Scott Woodruff said Livingston and his team “have continued to make more improvements to the facility since last year, and we know the racers and their families will be excited when they come through the gate and see just some of the enhancement and improvements that have been made for the racers and fans. It really shows the dedication the track and the staff have made.”

Perhaps NHRA’s long-range plans might include Calverton Executive Airpark on New York’s Long Island. It’s the newest venue in the Division 1 region that has been lobbying for a dragstrip for years. This unique location, granted NHRA sanction earlier this month, will see NHRA racing action five weeks of the year, beginning in August.

Promoter Peter Scalzo said, “We are thrilled to be bringing back drag racing to Long Island after a 17-year hiatus. I believe that the mention of these events being sanctioned by the NHRA was a major factor for the Town of Riverhead approving our Racetrack Not Street Series.”

Depending on a variety of factors, not the least of which is infrastructure and community support/approval, this conceivably could evolve into a prime metropolitan New York national event one day. But for now, the relationship among the facility, community, and the NHRA is in its infancy.

In the meantime, NHRA President Glen Cromwell said, “We at the NHRA want to thank Houston Raceway Park and the Angel family for their commitment to the sport of drag racing. Our race teams, partners, and NHRA officials look forward to celebrating the track as we close out this chapter of NHRA history.”

The final Houston Raceway Park event, the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil, is scheduled for next April 22-24.

“Drag racing has given us so many wonderful memories and created scores of friends for our family,” Houston Raceway Park General Manager Seth Angel “It really is a close-knit group of people and you definitely connect with them on a personal level. The same could be said of tens of thousands of faithful fans who have spent time with us through the years.”

Perhaps it will be another family’s turn soon.

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