By David G. Firestone
Last week, Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey announced that they would immediately cease holding drag racing events effective immediately. This has led to the cancellation of the 49th annual NHRA Summernationals. The decision was announced as a “reorganization of the company’s business operations.”This news came as a shock to a lot of people involved with the NHRA.
Old Bridge Township Raceway Park has been operating since 1965, and has held the Summernationals since 1969. It’s been a destination for drag racing fans on the east coast for years. While New York and New Jersey drag racing fans can still go to Epping and Maple Grove, Old Bridge had a history and fan attachment that most strips could only wish for. There are many second and third generation drag racing fans that visited Old Bridge on a regular basis.
Part of the reason that the track closed is because of the fact that the track can’t expand. The end of the track is shorter, because at the end, there is a street, and across the street is a private farm. The track is also bordered on the east side by an airport. If the track tried to expand, it would be impossible. This is not a small issue, because the NHRA is gaining popularity. The Summernationals sold out last year, and had very high ratings, for the NHRA.
The timing of this announcement placed the NHRA in an odd situation. While the schedule was announced last summer, this removes a scheduled race from the set schedule. The NHRA has said that there won’t be a Summernationals this season, but 2019 is still open. While this news isn’t that much of an issue for the top teams, the smaller teams lose a chance to get a win, and some valuable points. I asked Cruz Pedregon, a driver and team owner about that, and this is what he said:
DGF-”On Thursday, the NHRA released a statement about relocating the Sumernatonals. They stated that they are not exploring the possibilities of moving the event. From a driver’s and an owner’s perspective, how does this affect team planning for 2018?”
Cruz-”My guess is that they are probably not going to replace the race, at least not try to replace, I think this year, and then worry about that next year. But that could change. Last year, we had a similar situation with Topeka, supposedly off the schedule for some kind of reason, I’m not sure. Then, a couple months later, the race was on. Could that happen here? I have no idea. For now, we’re going to skip until we’re told otherwise.”
The loss of Old Bridge Township Raceway Park is a sad situtaion However, I look forward to seeing where the NHRA goes from here. I’m wondering where the Summernationals will go from here. I wish the best to Old Bridge Township Raceway Park and the The Napp family