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Maryland’s Capitol Raceway Closed Over Apparent Land/Lease Dispute


Maryland’s Capitol Raceway Closed Over Apparent Land/Lease Dispute

The drag strip operated by NHRA Pro Stock team owner Jim Cunningham, Capitol Raceway is currently closed. The reasons for this closure appear to stem from a dispute over the lease on the track. The land that the facility sits on is owned by a separate party and from what we have read and heard, the lease needed to be renewed for the 2012 season and terms could not be reached between Cunningham, his family, and the land owner.

While we really hate to see any drag strip closed down, Capitol Raceway has not exactly covered itself in glory over the last few years. The track became more well known for the tired environment and high profile wrecks (see the video below) than it did for blazing performances, cool events, and happy racers. Such was not always the case though. The track opened in 1961 and through the 1960s and 1970s it was one of the true hot beds of drag racing on the east coast. Racers like Malcom Durham, Phil Bonner, and others ran at the track frequently and racers around the country knew of the track.

For whatever reason, the last several years have been unkind to the track. Lots of racers close to the facility travel to Maryland International Raceway instead of racing there, a sad testimony to the general sentiment towards the facility in the area. We have heard from a couple of reliable sources that the track will most likely re-open with new management if a deal can be struck with the land owner.

We’re going to keep our ears to the ground on this one and hopefully bring you some good news in the near future. Until then, hit the link below to view the track website.

Link: Capitol Raceway 

(Here’s the infamous video of Vinny DeRose’s Black Ice 1957 wrecking at Capitol Raceway last year. The safety crew response to this wreck is horrifying and speaks to the management at the track during this time)


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37 thoughts on “Maryland’s Capitol Raceway Closed Over Apparent Land/Lease Dispute

  1. mike lacey

    capital raceway needs new owners.i live 20 minutes away and im a racer the track is not good it needs all the help it can get.capital raceway there track cannot hold big horsepower thats why you don’t ever see nitro cars or anything close to it. the safety team is rednecks with fire extinguisher’s and a cell phone

    1. Ed

      Capitol will re-open under new management on Friday April the 13 for test & tune and bracket racing on Saturday the 14th..

  2. john doe

    I was at that race and witnessed the wreck by the “black ice” car. This was 100 percent driver error and stupidity. His fuel hose came off or (some fluid hose) and the 60ft and he got loose several time and kept getting back into the throttle and lost control of it. There is another video of it and you can hear him going on and off of the throttle. Its was a time run. No need to stay in it. I will agree that some of the satety equipment needs updated. But this wreck was driver error

    1. Anonymous

      Agreed. I was in the stands, and when he didn’t actually do a burnout, I said to other racers in the stands, “he’ll never hook.” Black Ice took off and immediately let out of the gas because he was spinning badly and that should have been the end of it. However he got back into the throttle and that’s when the car got loose, rolled and caught fire. Yes, the management should have been better prepared, but this incident I believe was driver/crew error (crew member was placing the car on the line should have known no burn out was performed).

  3. JANE JOE

    WELL THE WRECK THE KILLED THE MAN WHO WAS RACING IN THE ROADSTER, WAS NO ACCIDENT, IT WAS NEGLIGENCE ON THE TRACKS BEHALF. SEVERAL RACERS PRIOR THE HIM CRASHING TOLD MANAGEMENT AND STAFF THAT THERE WAS SOME TYPE OF LIQUID ON THE TRACK THAT WAS MAKING IT VERY SLICK. TRACK OFFICIALS DID NOTHING. THEY DID NOT EVEN CHECK THE TRACK.

    IT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED LIKE THAT. AND THEY CLAIM DRIVER ERROR ON EVERYTHING!

  4. Outsider

    Not defending the management of the track, or pointing the finger but, last time I checked nobody is forcing anyone to race, it’s a choice and decision – if you make the decision to go down the track, no matter what the circumstances are, then be prepared for whatever the outcome may be. It’s unfortunate that anyone passes but, if there was any doubt in the drivers mind, or the pit crews, then perhaps the pass should not have been made.

    1. Jethro

      “Destined to fail…”? Hey Barney, the freakin’ track has been in business since the EARLY 60s. How old are you? 19 years of age?

      1. Barney

        ‘ The safety crew response to this wreck is horrifying and speaks to the management at the track during this time. ‘ A direct quote from the article……..Management at the track during that time…….go figure. Maybe years ago it was godd but lately……..NOT!!!!!!!!

  5. don

    really this is how you do this 50 years of racing and you pick out the bad. how about the fact that my family has raced there since the 60s w/o problems and meet lots of good people that are true friends to this day. that wreck would not be that bad if the car had the legal tubing surounding the front mount cell.

  6. jasper

    I know the track has been deteriorating the last few years but I live about twenty mins away and I liked hanging out there on Friday nites. Since Budscreek is so far for me I hate to see Capitol closed. Hopefully it will be opening soon of course under much better management and conditions.

  7. carlos

    i agree with don. this is not the only track were there have been accidents and deaths. very unfortunate.

  8. JANE JOE

    1. if the front tubing was illegal- how did it get certified?
    2. hopefully the new owner will know how to count the points correctly and congratulations to the winners even if they are not their friends.
    3.maybe they will provide the EMT’s with the proper clothing so that they are not risking themselves getting injuried to help us or to save us. ( i was told personally that i was not being saved if it meant them giving burned in the process)

    no racer wants to see a track shut down for good, but they could have listened more to the racers, and stopped making up the rules as they go along. they have told too many people “if you don’t like it , go somewhere else.” well people have!!!

  9. ifryrice

    I have been a loyal fan and racer at capitol for 5+ years. It is time for a change. I remember the final for points 2 years ago that had to be raced in the dark since Cunningham didnt want to turn on the lights!? Talk about not caring or better yet – just plain greedy and luckily no one wrecked in the total darkness. I’ve see people with glass bottles walking around, kids in the staging lanes, fans standing directly behind low 8 sec race cars at the startling line, etc.. etc… I dont blame the employees for anything – They could only work with what they had available. I talked to a lot of them and they wanted better safety and security too. That is a great location and will hopefully be re-opened by a Professional Owner who cares.

  10. gilligan

    we all know that it is tough running a buisness in this economy but this problem could have been solved this is response to outsider you said no one is forcing anyone down the track well that why attedence is down revinew is down and no one is going down the track duh lol i hate the fact no one would listen to the racers and thats a big problem in the track world owner/leasers think they r pimps and they dont have to listen to racers/crews after all we get there money any way where r they going to race or they will be back attitude. i i raced for along time and had lots of fun and met some really nice people but i acutally quit racing because of one thing i told kim c many times that it was unfair that she would change the conditions everytime they had a big event,,,,all day long they would have the order pro mod class 1 class 2 bikes street car then eleiminations would role around the order was class 1 class 2 bikes then pro mod then street cars i personally would lose a tenth just on 60 foot street cars dont have the power to pull trough all the rubber laid down by a pro nod i even showed her time ticket for three years of not going passed first round after they pull that crap why change the order so i got tired of donating money every week and quite bought a beach house and now go to beach every weekend just one of the problems at capital has to be big changes for me and my famialy to return

  11. gilligan

    oh forgot did cunningham lose just the track or did he lose the sand and gravel pit too can anyone anwser

  12. quagmire

    I saw first hand the “safety equipment” used there at Crapitol. Hoses that did not work properly, extinguishers that were junk, and NO training for the employees. The paramedic at one event wasnt even a paramedic, just a regular employee there. The management, or lack of, was a joke. Changing the rules as they saw fit to pamper the regulars. It was a booze fest most of the time on Friday, both the spectators and racers.I would return if the people who ran the track REALLY cared about the racers, not the money.

  13. Steve

    This is truly sad. We all need to support our local drag strips. Drag strips all over the country are fighting to survive with pressure from developers and environmentalists. My first memory of capital is when I was about 10 and my older cousin snuck me into the track in the trunk of his 64 GTO. OK next time I go I will pay twice! I agree that the condition of the track has slipped over the past few years but if we don’t support them by bringing our cars to race there will be no way for them to make the necessary improvements to staff and facilities.

    1. jimmyjohn

      So we are supposed to race at a substandard track and wreck our stuff to support them? Have fun. I will be@ MIR

  14. Dagoneit

    Not happy about the changes at Capitol with one exception – Never having to look at the most arogant sucker around. Jimmy Forcade. Hope he is back changing auto trans fluid where he belongs. Good ridence.

  15. SCOOTERMAN

    I grew up at Capitol in the early 60s. I have many good memories and a few sad ones. I will miss the friendship the Cunningham Family showed towards me and my late son Grant who raced there in 2004/5. I have met many new friends at Capitol during the last 8 years racing in the bike class. Lets all wish the Cunninghams good wishes in their future since only THEY and the land owners know the complete story behind recent events concerning Capitol. Please support the new management and be patient during their time of transition. Keep Capitol your Home Track no matter who owns the land or who operates the track. Thank you Jim and Kim. Good luck in whatever you do. -Scooterman

  16. SCOOTERMAN

    U P D A T E – I was just advised in person at 2 PM today Friday the 13th of April that Capitol will NOT be open this weekend and you can get updates by going to http://www.Capitolraceway.NET. Be sure to use the suffix “.net” instead of “.com” and specify the complete web address so not to get the old website (.com).

  17. Neighbor

    the place is too noisy- the landscape has changed around here since 1961 let the track die a peaceful death we will all be happier

  18. Chris210

    No one makes anybody show up sorry for anyones loss of life but everyone in any sport it can happen.
    AND THESE IDIOT NEIGHBORS that surround these tracks if you don’t like it don’t build or buy near them I have seen tracks fold up because of Neighbors always complain it is old MOVE.
    And even if there is tech and they check the car it still the drivers responsibility to build a safe car that is controlable and to the rules.

  19. RACERX

    I will miss most of the crew at Capital, most have been good people except one. When you refer to your customers as IDOTS.. that’s bad. The man did not care about his customers just himself. When you run somone off the track for spraying too much VHT down, what’s that about??? Just look at the snack bar and the restrooms… nice huh??? I don’t know which is worse.

  20. localguy

    Lets be truthful, none of us except some non racing enthusiast who moved close buy wants our local track to close. I too grew up at that track, and too found myself fed up and going to MIR. Its difficult to have a good time when on a simple test and tune night you wait in the staging lanes all night and only make 3 passes. Everyone has a right to race, but its frustrating to sit and sit and watch bikers go round after round. Heaven forbid there was a breakdown because that tied it up for at least an hour. You also have to really watch yourself in the pits because idiots are burning out and carrying on right there in the lot, no other track allows that kind of behavior. 75/80 went through a silmilar struggle, they have invested a little money, marketed some lower horsepower classes, like 9″ nightmares a 275 class, and seem to be doing well. I for one hope things are cleared up, and we get a reformed local track back.

  21. Lexie

    The new capital raceway is now opened. The first day open was yesterday, 5/4/12

    New management, and GOOD food at the snack bar.

    Come on out :)

  22. Ryan T

    Opening day 5-4-12 went very well. track was awesome. hooked harder then any other track in the past 5 years that ive raced at..had to adjust wheel bar, carried the fronts..nice new turn off so you dont have to drive all the way around to get back to the pits. you can turn off into the pits at half way down the return road. there really fixing it up and making it nice…all thoug the announcer did get annoying with saying…. the NEW capitol raceway lol..but the announcer is worth the entry cost alone..hes funny.

  23. jasper

    Well I’m glad to see the track back open the food is much better the barbeque was slammin. I think things will be better now

  24. M Ancell

    I used to go to this track in the late sixties/early seventies with my Dad and brothers. I met Don “Big Daddy” Garlits, Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, and many others from that era here. Back then a kid could wander around in the pits and even sit in a car if he asked politely enough. I even had the rare opportunity to ride to the starting line with Tom McEwen during a race in 1972. Of course they made me get out before they fired up the car but it was something I would never forget. The look on my old man’s face was priceless as he watched me crawl out from under that funny car was priceless. It’s a shame this place has fallen on hard times.

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