Englishtown Shuttering Drag Racing Operations

Englishtown Shuttering Drag Racing Operations
Photo: Courtesy of NHRA

Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey is closing its drag racing operations, NHRA confirmed Wednesday morning. The NHRA Summernationals, a 48-year destination for drag racing participants and fans throughout the east coast will cease to exist, forcing NHRA to hold a 23-race 2018 season, the series confirmed.

The Napp family, owners of the property, has decided to change the scope of their operations and posted the following on their website: “To achieve this goal, Raceway Park will no longer conduct quarter-mile or eighth-mile drag racing events effective immediately. Raceway Park will retain and use the ‘stadium’ portion of the facility, including the VIP hospitality tower and grandstands, and continue most of its operations, including the spring and fall auto swap meets, numerous car shows, both motocross racing and practice, kart racing, as well as drifting, a full schedule of road-course activities, mud runs, monster truck shows, musical concerts and festival events and more,” their statement said.

The Napp family, in making this choice has stated: “We wish to express their most sincere gratitude to the NHRA and the many thousands of racers and fans, with whom would have never allowed Raceway Park to become the iconic and nationally recognized drag racing ability it has over the past five decades. It is with a great sadness that the Napp family is discontinuing drag racing; however, the family looks forward to continuing to provide the best outdoor events in this new era of Raceway Park.”

Englishtown Shuttering Drag Racing Operations
Winner’s Circle at Englishtown 2017. Photo Courtesy of NHRA.

From NHRA’s Glendora, Calif. headquarters, the sanctioning body’s new president, Glen Cromwell made the following declaration: “NHRA drag racing events have been held at the track in Englishtown for almost 50 years. The Summernationals have played an important part in our heritage and we hope that fans in the area will try to make it to another one of our events. Our focus remains on making the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series a memorable experience for our fans, racers, sponsors, partners and tracks.”

While Raceway Park has seen some notable victories by local products, three- time champions Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle, it is also the site of Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta’s death, in 2008. The latter tragedy was impetus for NHRA to change track length series-wide for its Top Fuel and Funny Car classes, from 1320 feet to 1000 feet, the current length where all nitro events take place today.

With this unexpected situation, it’s unknown whether NHRA will try to secure a 24th race for its 2018 campaign. The closest NHRA venue to Englishtown would be Epping, in New Hampshire.

About Anne Proffit 98 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.
  • Craig M. Bryda

    Boycott the place untill they sell to someone who will bring back what the place meant to be.

  • Paul Johnson

    ‘a memorable experience?…watchin’ sixteen chebbies ruin pro stock…..or however many they run in the top doorslammer class now……………

  • Disgusted Canadian fan

    Sad moment and memories that will live on forever.The Napp family has spoken, end of story. Moving forward for all race fans and the NHRA, I would give the nod to Atco Dragway another Great NHRA sanctioned facility, to host the 2018 edition of the Summernationals. Let`s make it Happen!!!

  • Cobranut

    More evidence that NHRA is ruining what used to be a fun sport for the spectators.

    Cool that they’re expanding their road racing activities though.

  • Marc Hall

    Local residents have cried about track noise for decades. Is this the families compromise? Last time I looked Old Bridge Township could use the revenue generated by the Summer Nationals and drag racing activities.

  • This is bad news but not unexpected as the real estate location probably dictated this soon or later.
    Maybe an investment in and upgrading to the drag strip in Budds Creek, MD would be an alternative in the future?

    • Michael Schwartz

      NHRA’s concern is getting back to the NYC market (Maple Grove is closest at 2hr:15min) The only track capable of holding a national event that is closer is Atco (1:47)

      With a 6-month lead, there is the possibility of doing a “Pomona” and set up a once a year location nearby. If they put all classes to 1000ft, there is room at the Meadowlands for a track with 2200 feet of shutdown.

      • Well, you seem to have a better knowledge of the area and since I have only been to Englishtown once (in 1991? [foggy memory]) I will digress to your opinion as probably more accurate. Thanks for the reply.

        • Michael Schwartz

          Thanks. I had a 27-year history with Englishtown.

          • I was there with Ron Gross, Scott Geofrion (RIP) and Warren Johnson’s crew in, I believe 1991, and met a real character there, Don Campenello. It was a good time. From there we all went to Budds Creek for a Pro-Stock invitational. All I remember was it was 93 degrees at 3 AM and I must’ve lost 10 pounds. Wish I could do that now.

  • dbdaughdrill

    I started my love of drag racing while stationed in the Army close to Warrenton, VA and raced at Old Dominion Race track. I look at this as a family cashing in on 48 years of publicity to bring in activities that are more profitable to them, not necessarily profitable to the local community. Any bad feelings are at a dead end at this point. Good by to another classic.

  • John Budzash

    Raceway Park opened up over 50 years ago. It replaced Old Bridge Raceway which was a 1/8 mile track that sold out to a developer who but condos there. It was about 10 miles east of where the Napps opened Raceway Park.

    In 1968 I raced my 66 ram air tripower m-22 GTO there running in the 13’s by the end of the season in 69, I had gotten it down to the mid 12’s I drove it to school and work everyday. I only raced occasionally because I worked after school and on Saturdays and Sundays, but there were always other fun things.happening there.

    I got out of the Army in Jan 1972 and was driving a 69 390 4 speed AMX, Plus a modified production 66 BB Chevelle and a 65 Vette, when I opened a Speed Shop in 72 that did custom painting and built Custom Harley’s and Cars specializing in Vettes.

    Raceway Park began holding ‘Van Ins’ after the 70’s fake gas shortage that really hurt speed shops, so I added modifying vans to our specialties and building Choppers at that time when most shops closed.

    We went to the first Van In there and it was wild with hippie chicks running around topless or totally naked. We saw one van driving through the crowd with a hottie standing inside with her head out the sunroof. Heading toward that was another van . The hottie inside that one saw the other girl and stood up out of their sunroof. Both girls started challenging each other by removing clothes until they ran out and both began doing nasty things to themselves. Live Porn!

    I don’t know how many times after that they held other Van meets. We went to most of them but the Van craze came in fast and hard then died just as fast and hard as it began.

    Last time I was there was 4-5 years ago at the Spring Swap Meet which was pretty dead . It seemed as we older guys aged, few younger people took our places. I just hope more young people get involved with cars and racing to keep the hobby alive.

    I thank the Napp family for all those fun years and wish them success with their future plans

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