HOUSTON RACEWAY PARK CLOSING AFTER NEXT YEAR'S NHRA NATIONAL EVENT
In 1988, NHRA announced the new Houston Raceway Park as a means of keeping NHRA drag racing in Texas with the departure of the Texas Motorplex for a brief stay with the IHRA. Today, NHRA and the track located in Baytown, Tex., have announced the 2022 NHRA Springnationals, April 22-24, will be its final national event.
"Our family is extremely proud to have showcased the top level of professional drag racing for 35 wonderful years," said Seth Angel, Houston Raceway Park Track Operator. "It's been a dream come true to meet and work with all the incredible drivers, team owners and NHRA executives who come together each year to entertain the millions of racing fans in our area.”
“We at the NHRA want to thank Houston Raceway Park and the Angel family for their commitment to the sport of drag racing,” said Glen Cromwell, NHRA President. “Our race teams, partners and NHRA officials look forward to celebrating the track as we close out this chapter of NHRA history.”
Renowned for its sea-level location at the top of Trinity Bay, which creates a race-perfect, oxygen-rich environment, Houston Raceway Park hosted its first national event in 1988. At the time, the 500-acre facility was co-owned by the Gay family of Dickenson, Texas, longtime friends of brothers Greg, Gary and Glen Angel (deceased). The Angel brothers then bought out the Gay family's interest in 2004.
Houston Raceway Park has been the site of many special moments, none more so than the NHRA's first four-second run, set at the 1988 race. Texan Eddie Hill quickly topped that record by running a 4.93 in the final round of Top Fuel to win the race, sending off a worldwide frenzy of interest in the sport.
Other memorable moments at HRP include "The Burndown," when bitter rivals Warren Johnson and Scott Geoffrion sat in the pre-stage beams for more than a minute trying to unnerve one another; first-time victories for a pair of future multi-time world champions, Scott Kalitta and Jeg Coughlin Jr.; Michael Phillips becoming the first African-American to win in a pro category in 1997; and three inclusions into both the Pro Stock 200 mph Club and the Top Fuel 300 mph Club.
NHRA continues to weigh its options including bringing in Tulsa Raceway Park, as well as a facility rumored to be forthcoming in the Hattiesburg, Mississippi region.