One door closes; another opens.
Heartland Motorsports Park announced it will host its final NHRA national event, the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor, the weekend of August 11-13, 2023, after continuously holding races for 34 years. The first NHRA national event took place at the Topeka, Kansas track in 1989, but the operators claim Shawnee County government has plagued the track with “excessive land valuation and property taxes” that it simply cannot afford.
A new Flying H Dragstrip in the Kansas City area will be part of the national event schedule in 2024, the sanctioning body stated. Flying H broke ground on its new facility in May of this year and the construction process should be completed in October. Located at I-70 Motorsports Park in Odessa, close to Kansas City, Kansas, the new track is expected to offer top amenities and be a premier dragstrip in the area. It became an NHRA member track earlier this year.
“We have a rich history at Heartland Motorsports Park and we want to thank Chris Payne and his team for many years supporting NHRA drag racing,” Glen Cromwell, NHRA president stated. “But as one door closes, another opens and we are looking forward to the great opportunity of racing in the Kansas City area at a brand new facility. Scott Higgs and his team are building a fantastic new track at Flying H Dragstrip and we are excited to have our first event there in 2024 and create a wealth of new memories in the area.”
Payne and Shawnee County have long been at loggerheads concerning the Heartland track, which is open to the public as many as 80 days each year. The tracks owners, Shelby Development Co. claim the county’s tax bill is excessive at nearly $1,500 per day, while the county states the track’s owners never appealed the taxation. Shelby did, however, file an 11-count lawsuit against the county appraiser, but the property has devalued under these issues and is now, Payne and Shelby Development claim, nearly worthless.
“Shelby is extremely thankful for its partnership with the NHRA and its many sponsors. Heartland is grateful to the racers, their support crew, the enormous fan base and countless vendors who have supported Heartland and this NHRA national event for decades,” Payne stated. “Because of the actions by Shawnee County, unfortunately this will be the last national event at Heartland Motorsports Park. We look forward to completing the 2023 season as well.”
The I-70 Motorsports Park became Higgs’ property in March of this year with plans to add the dragstrip. It’s expected to open later this season in advance of holding its national NHRA event during the 2024 season. “We are truly excited to bring NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series action to our track in 2024,” Higgs stated.
“Everyone at Flying H Dragstrip was thrilled to join the NHRA Member Track Network earlier this year and to have a national event during our first full year of operation is going to be incredible. We’ve been dedicated to building a great facility with great people and strong family environment. It’s been a lot of work but our team is committed to building a top-notch facility and making it a memorable weekend for the race teams, fans and partners.”
Topeka’s “House of Speed” has been the site of several record runs over the years. Sixteen-time Funny Car champion John Force has 10 victories at the track and will be one of many looking to win the final race in Topeka.