Englishtown Strip Getting Out Of Drag Racing Business

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 18 2018

The Northeast’s premier drag strip will no longer host drag races. (NHRA file photo)

Hot fun in the summertime won’t sound or smell like old times in Englishtown, N.J., in 2018.

Family-owned Old Bridge Township Raceway Park has informed National Hot Rod Association officials the facility will not stage either quarter-mile or eighth-mile drag racing this season, immediately dropping the 49th annual NHRA Summernationals from the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

The race weekend was scheduled for June 7-10 as Round No. 10 of the 24-event schedule set to open with the 58th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., Feb. 8-11.

Founded and owned by the Napp family since 1965, Old Bridge Township Raceway Park has forged a reputation as the Northeast’s premier drag racing facility. The Summernationals and 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., ended the 2017 season tied as the fourth longest-tenured national events on the NHRA tour.

The Napp family plans to re-focus its business plan on a variety of entertainment events.

Michael Napp is listed in the 2017 NHRA Media Guide as president of the facility, with Alex Napp as vice president and David Napp as marketing director.

“The Napp family wishes to express their most sincere gratitude to the NHRA, and the many thousands of racers and fans, without whom (it) would have never allowed Raceway Park to become the iconic and nationally recognized drag racing facility it has over the past five decades,” the family said in a statement. “The Napp family would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the employees that have served our drag racing customers so well over the previous years.

“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.”

The facility reportedly will retain and use its “stadium” portion, including the VIP hospitality tower and grandstands. The 2018 schedule includes previously booked spring and fall auto swap meets, car shows, motocross racing and practice, kart racing, drifting, road-course activities, mud runs, Monster truck shows and musical concerts/festivals.

In addition, Old Bridge Township Airport _ owned and operated by Raceway Park _ will continue normal operations.

NHRA officials reported they were informed of the Napp family decision on Tuesday. NHRA confirmed the schedule change on Wednesday in a statement from its headquarters in Glendora, Calif.

“NHRA drag racing events have been held at the track in Englishtown for almost 50 years,” NHRA President Glen Cromwell said. “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.”

NHRA has two other national events scheduled in the Northeast corridor. The sixth annual NHRA New England Nationals are set for July 6-8 at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H. The 34th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals _ opening event of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs _ will be contested Sept. 13-16 at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.

A project conceived by Vincent Napp Sr., Old Bridge Township Raceway Park opened on July 4, 1965. Vincent Napp, brother Louis, and Vincent’s sons Richard and Vincent Jr., transformed a former 308-acre farm into a drag strip in over a year’s time. Known since as “Englishtown or E-Town,” the facility was added as an official stop on NHRA’s national event tour in 1968 as the Springnationals. The event was returned to its June slot as the NHRA Summernationals in 2004.

According to the NHRA Media Guide, the Napp family constantly has updated the facility via re-investment, renovation and expansion of the property located at 230 Pension Road. In 1975, a one-mile motocross track was added to the grounds. In 1996, an eighth-mile drag strip was built to accommodate the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League, a program first showcased at Raceway Park. In 2000, Raceway Park added a motocross practice facility and in 2002 a 1.35-mile karting oval and road-course were opened. The facility also plays host to a number of fitness/lifestyle events.

The track’s alumni list is topped by Eddie Krawiec, a native of Bayonne, N.J., who won his fourth NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world title in 2017. Krawiec, who competes aboard a Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod, is a former track manager at Raceway Park.


In addition to “Brute,” you now can refer to Funny Car icon John Force as “Doc.”

An emotional and proud Force recently accepted an honorary doctorate at the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima during a special ceremony presided over by university President Dr. Jeffery Jarvis. A 16-time NHRA world champion, Force received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for his historic motorsports career and dedication to racing safety.

“I never had this kind of opportunity. I learned on the racetracks and in the board rooms. I got an education at truck stops across the country,” Force told students and faculty during a ceremony in the UNOH Event Center. “I’m honored to receive this doctorate mainly because I saw the passion these UNOH students have for motorsports as well as their other programs. They’re really turning their passions into careers here. I could not be more impressed with what I saw around campus and I’m excited to be ‘Dr. Force.’^”

Keeping in character, Force reportedly kept asking for an elastic glove so he could give people their annual check- ups.

Force, the founder of John Force Racing, was joined by two-time/reigning NHRA Funny Car world champion Robert Hight; 2017 NHRA Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force and winning Funny Car driver Courtney Force for a  tour of the UNOH campus. The group met with students in a variety of degree programs and also spent time with students participating on the successful UNOH motorsports team.

“John Force is truly a wonderful role model and icon in the motorsports industry,” Dr. Jarvis said.”He is not only a championship driver, but he embraces a love for the future of the sport which lies within many of our students today. John Force Racing has employed UNOH graduates for many years. It was an easy decision to honor a man that has had such a large impact in the racing industry, business community and educational environment. We are thrilled to have John Force join the UNOH family.” 

The University of Northwestern Ohio is the first educational institution to honor Force in this way. With his degree, Force became the first drag racer recognized in this manner. Force also is the third motorsports luminary to receive honorary doctorates, joining NASCAR icon “King” Richard Petty and NASCAR championship team-owner Richard Childress. The latter was honored by UNOH in 2013.


In an historic rule change requested by competitors, NHRA will allow Pro Stock racers to run any currently approved engine combination in any currently approved body _regardless of manufacturer _ during the 2018 season.

“The NHRA Technical Department worked very closely with the Pro Stock teams and vehicle manufacturers in finalizing this rule change,” said Glen Gray, NHRA vice president/technical operations. “The cooperation from all of those involved in the process was very encouraging, and we look forward to the 2018 Pro Stock season.”

The decision was announced last month in a letter to Pro Stock teams. The “Factory Hot Rod” class has been dominated in recent years by teams running Chevrolet Camaro bodies, including first-time/reigning world champion Bo Butner of Ken Black Racing. Camaro drivers filled nine of the final top-10 point positions last season, the exception being 2012 world champion Allen Johnson and his Dodge Dart in eighth. Johnson _ the last non-Chevy driver to win the championship _ retired at season’s end.

The rule change theoretically will make the class more attractive to teams wishing to run Darts and Ford Mustangs.


NHRA’s revised 2018 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule with starting times for FOX and FOX Sports 1 and 2’s television broadcasts. (All times ET and subject to change):

Feb. 11 _ Lucas Oil Winternationals, Pomona, Calif. (5 p.m. live on FS1)

Feb. 25 _ NHRA Arizona Nationals, Chandler, Ariz. (6:30 p.m., FS1)

March 18 _Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fla. (7 p.m., FS1)

April 8 _ DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas (6 p.m., FS1)

April 22 _ NHRA SpringNationals, Baytown, Texas (2 p.m., Live on FS1)

April 29 _NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Concord, N.C. (6 p.m., FS1)

May 6 _NHRA Southern Nationals, Commerce, Ga. (6 p.m., FS1)

May 20 _Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, Topeka, Kan. (2 p.m., Live on FS1)

June 3 _Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Joliet, Ill. (5:30 p.m., FS1)

June 17 _NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn. (7:30 p.m., FS1)

June 24 _Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio (6:30 p.m., FS1)

July 8 _NHRA New England Nationals, Epping, N.H. (1 p.m., Live on FS1)

July 22 _Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, Morrison, Colo. (3 p.m., Live on FOX)

July 29 _Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Sonoma, Calif. (4 p.m. Live on FOX)

Aug. 5 _NHRA Northwest Nationals, Kent, Wash. (4 p.m., Live on FOX)

Aug. 19 _Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, Minn. (2 p.m., Live on FS1)

Sept. 3 _Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Clermont, Ind. (11 a.m. Live on FS1)

Sept. 3 _ Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Clermont, Ind. (1 p.m., Live on FOX)

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship

Sept. 16 _ Dodge NHRA Nationals, Reading, Pa. (7:30 p.m., FS1)

Sept. 23 _AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, Madison, Ill. (8:30 p.m., FS1)

Oct. 7 _AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Ennis, Texas (12 p.m., Live on FS2)

Oct. 14 _NHRA Carolina Nationals, Concord, N.C. (2 p.m., Live on FS1)

Oct. 28_ NHRA Toyota Nationals, Las Vegas (7:30 p.m., Live on FS1)

Nov. 11 _Auto Club NHRA Nationals, Pomona, Calif. (4 p.m., Live on FS1) of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force. 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 18 2018
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