A murky but altogether depressing picture is beginning to emerge regarding the future of Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona. Some statements made by the track operator, Charlie Allen, along with announcements being made by the Native American tribe that owns the land the track is sitting on points to a future that may end with the 2013 NHRA event at the track.
We got a tip from a BangShift reader about a recent press release trumpeting a huge shopping complex that will be built at the Wild Horse Pass property where the track is located. If that weren’t bad enough on its own, Allen recently made statements to the newspaper stating that track lawyers are in talks with the Gila River Indian Community lawyers and he has no idea whether or not he will be able to exercise a seven year lease option on the track, which would come due next year. He did say that the 2013 NHRA event would happen regardless of the lease outcome and the press release on the shopping project stated that they planned to open it in the Spring of 2013. Seeing as the drag race happens in February, that leaves them a window to bulldoze the track and finish their project after the NHRA race.
There was great hullabaloo during the signing of the documents finalizing the shopping center with lots of government officials, both of the local and state level trumpeting it as a great triumph for the area. Funny how that happens when shopping centers are announced and when a drag strip is announced everyone in a 50-mile radius shows up with a pitch fork and a torch.
Reportedly Charlie Allen has found a location to put another track on, if Firebird is closed and destroyed but we hope that he does not have to do such a thing and that this real estate project will not invade the current facility’s space. If you have not noticed, drag strips are not exactly being built at a record pace these days. Especially those that can hold an NHRA national event. The reality is that if Firebird closes, it may be a long time, if ever, before the Phoenix market gets “Big Show” NHRA drag racing back in town.