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.”
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.