Column By: SUZANNE BELL / RPW – AVERILL PARK, NY – Racers and fans alike are in shock.
There have always been rumors over the years that the property in Englishtown was being sold, being developed by housing contractors, was being shut down due to noise, amongst other rumors. Those have always turned out to be false and the racing season resumed.
Social media was abuzz with rumors of the closure of Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, one of the oldest dragways, which has hosted the NHRA Summernationals for 48 years. Unfortunately, the rumors that were spreading like wild fire are true and confirmed in a press release from the track management as well as the NHRA. E-Town, as many have called it, will not have a racing program as previously announced beginning this, the 2018 season.
According to reports, the property, owned and operated by the Napp family announced a reorganization of the company’s business operations.
“Raceway Park will no longer conduct quarter mile or eighth mile drag racing events effective immediately,” according to the press release. The Napp family will continue to own the property, and continue to use the “stadium” portion of the grandstands for future events including their swap meets and car shows. The motor cross racing and practice, kart racing, drifting, road course, mud runs, concert events and other activities will continue to be held.
NHRA confirmed with their own press release that the 29th Annual Summernational Event, scheduled for June will not be held. Unfortunately, for many in the Northeast this was the closest National event with the next closest being the NHRA New England Nationals held at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. For many, this event was their first experience with the nitro funny cars and dragsters.
The shock through the drag racing community is palpable. Raceway Park opened on July 4, 1965 and has held many memories for many racers from weekly races, divisional event and most notably the inception of the junior drag racing program in 1992 when owner, Vincent Napp, built a half scaled sized car for his son, David and it premiered in a race against fellow junior competitor, Jill Caliendo, at the NHRA Summernational event. Since then, the junior dragster program has blossomed to over a thousands kids, at tracks nationwide, from the ages of five to seventeen.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, it is often forgotten that these race tracks are businesses. The out cries and nasty comments asking how a facility with such a lavished history could just shut down without any warning or without any farewell fanfare to their racers and fans has been abundant and in many instances selfish. We as a racing community assume that the places we call our second homes will always be there. The reality of the situation is often a shock when something such as this occurs and a place that we assume will be there forever is suddenly gone.
Racing will continue at many other facilities. Adjustments will be made to racing schedules to accommodate those races which have been cancelled. It will all work out in time. In the meantime, one can only suggest to those racers and fans alike, to venture out to your local race track and support the business there while it is still there. Best to do it now while you still can.
“We are given today and only promised tomorrow.” ~unknown