Bad News: Raceway Park Will Cease Drag Racing Operations – The End Of Englishtown Appears To Be Nigh


Bad News: Raceway Park Will Cease Drag Racing Operations – The End Of Englishtown Appears To Be Nigh

BangShift.com has learned that Raceway Park will cease racing operations in 2018. This is unhappy news to say the least. At this point our understanding is that there will not be a 2018 drag racing season at Raceway Park and an announcement regarding the track’s future, or lack thereof is forthcoming. In conversations with various parties close to the track’s operation we have learned that the Napp family who owns the facility has effectively leased some or all of the property to a company who plans to use it as some sort of vehicle storage area. We have not spoken directly to track ownership or management at this point but are confident with the information that we have gathered from those we have spoken to. We cannot speak to the other facets of the track (i.e. the motocross course, etc) but we can speak with a level of confidence that drag racing is over at one of the nation’s most well known and longest running facilities.

Raceway Park opened in July of 1965 and became part of the NHRA National event landscape in 1971 as it was that year the track hosted the famed Summernationals for the first time. NHRA moved it from York, PA to the NJ track. The facility has loomed large over the sport of drag racing for decades, at times holding the record many believe to be the most prestigious in the sport, that of the top fuel category. Outside of NHRA racing, the track’s most famed operator Vinny Napp was a great innovator in the realm of match racing, staging mid-week night shows that packed them in and brought some of the craziest and most hardcore drag racing entertainment on Earth to the fans. Later iterations brought the monster trucks and whatever else would bring folks through the gate. The track has also hosted one of the biggest and baddest diesel drag racing events in the world with what US Truckin’ Nationals. Last year’s running of that event was purported to be the largest single event in the history of the track regardless of type.

Raceway Park’s legacy in the sport is secured in an interesting way. Junior dragsters. Vincent Napp built one for his son David famously out of electrical conduit and old street signs. David was not a guy who was interested in stick and ball sports but loved drag racing. Jill Caliendo and David Napp raced in front of a packed house at the 1992 Summernationals and a type of drag racing that has gone on to create multiple professional and sportsman world champions was born. Today, thousands of kids across the country compete in junior dragsters that are more advanced copies of what Napp and Calends raced in 1992.

The track was also one of the great supporters of the burgeoning pro modified movement in the late 1980s and served as the place for some of the most jaw dropping runs in those early years. Mike Ashley famously clocked the fastest speed ever for a door slammer at 211mph with some of the pass being made through the grass that bordered the track at the time. The track also hosted the famed “Shakedown” (which now happens at Norwalk, Ohio) which became one of the great “outlaw” style door slammer races in the country.

We could go on and one about the place’s impact in the Import drag racing scene that blew wide open in the early 1990s and a million other things but the sad fact is that we wish this was not happening. We can understand the family’s decision to use the property as they see fit but wow is this a punch to the gut.

This is a hard thing to write and we know it is a hard thing for you to read but it is real. Mark our words.

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68 thoughts on “Bad News: Raceway Park Will Cease Drag Racing Operations – The End Of Englishtown Appears To Be Nigh

  1. Grippo

    This hurts bad. Maple Grove is my home but Etown was always a close second. So many memories…This is going to take time to process.

    Reply
  2. Ken Johnston

    “Vehicle Storage Facility”? They used the same gag to close an IHRA track just outside Jacksonville last year….the property is still vacant and there has never been anything even moved onto the property. The “Noise Wall” in E-Town was the result of neighbors complaining….we had ONE ,man complaining about the noise here in Green Cove Springs, Fl……One man in the Good Old Boy Network of this nearly broken small town America…open little over three years,,huge crowds from as far away as Atlanta & Miami…….bringing untold amounts of fresh money and life into this once prosperous town…. the local paper told me that my idea of one man was totally wrong…but they are the ones that printed the story and named ONE man fighting against th track. The person in question didn’t even live close enough to the track to hear the cars….If you want to get gang together to start bulldozing the homes around E-Town….let me know,,,I’m all in!!! We know it was the people…happening across the country…I wouldn’t be surprised that the group travels from town to town showing locals how to get rid of drag strips…just like the rioters that get paid to go to other cities and start the riots….my first trip to E-town was 1976,,,,always stayed at the Marlboro Motor Inn, Freehold, N.J…….several times a year from Pittsburgh

    Reply
    1. ed

      screw the neighbors, the track was there long before their condo\’s don\’t buy or build in the area if you don\’t like the noise, just another case of so a$$wipe democrats trying to save the world…….. long time race fan,i took rookie eliminator in the summer of \’84 lots of great memories at that track if true it will be missed

      Reply
    2. Bart

      Get your facts straight. I raced at Green Cove Dragway for 3 years. Volkswagen has thousands of diesel cars parked there now. The track didn’t closed because of noise. It closed because VW is paying 10 times the rent that the track was.

      Reply
    3. Greg Hawker

      Ken i moved from NJ, in 93 and YES the locals was making a big deal about the track. i don\’t know if you heard this but they wanted them to put mufferlers on Top Fuel. i never thought a track with all its 50 YEARS History as English Town could be STOMPED OUT that easy. i my self loved this track been to lots of Nat, Events at other track E-TOWN was the best. if 2018 is the last Nat. Event i can tell you the Parkway and killer rt 9 in Freehold will be Jam up !!
      so many E-TOWN FANS will Storm The Gates we will be there.
      God Speed save E-TOWN

      Reply
      1. Andy F.

        We used to go on Fri \”street nights\” in the late 80\’s. We lived about 10-15 min away.

        They also closed the Winchester Gun Club on the other side of Englishtown Road where I used to shoot trap. God forbid you have more than 1/2 an acre without a house on it.

        NJ sucks. I got out of there over 20 years ago. It was the smartest thing I ever did.

        Reply
        1. Todd H

          I worked at Winchester…Made it to the All Army and US Teams..Used to get free passes to the track…Left in 80 and never looked back…Sad day

          Reply
    4. Tod Machrowicz

      Are you nuts??? It may pain you to realize this but most business decisions are based on economics. The Copart deal and it\’s connected insurance dollars are far more valuable than any drag races. Certainly there have been squabbles with neighbors just as any entertainment venues have experienced around the country. Most with valid reasons. But economics always win out. Why not just be thankful for the good times you had there rather than chase ghosts for silly reasons why the property should not be used for it\’s highest potential.

      Reply
      1. Joe Zimbardo

        Tod its greedy bastards like you that are the problem, that family has more money than they know what to do with.

        Reply
    5. Scott Liggett

      Fontana had the same ONE guy problem that required them to build a sound wall. If you look at the track’s location, it runs right next to railroad tracks, which is in between the house and the track. Fontana is also in the corner of the Nascar track’s parking lot. But, that never bothered him, or the constant autocross track.

      Reply
    6. Guy Pierce

      This is a really sad day. I started going to Etown in the early 70\’s. The track was there way before the houses were ever built. Those stuck up, a-hole home owners should be ashamed of them selves.

      Reply
    7. Guy Pierce

      This is a really sad day. I started going to Etown in the early 70’s. The track was there way before the houses were ever built. Those stuck up, a-hole home owners should be ashamed of them selves.

      Reply
  3. jerry z

    My first drag racing experience was at E-town. It was the Fall Nationals in 1974.

    Seems every year they say the writing is on the wall but until it truly happens, won’t believe it.

    Reply
  4. Stephon faulk

    This sucks I was going there since I was 6 years old I use to take my son with me now he\’s 21 going to miss taxes at park

    Reply
  5. Larry

    My parents moved our family to the Morganville section of Marlboro in 1967. Coming from Brooklyn we got used to the sounds from the track on Wednesday nights and on Saturdays. Not once did we complain about the noise as the track was there first. It is sad that such a beloved business will finally be closing.

    Reply
    1. Lynda

      I remember hearing those funnycars too when I was younger and still living off Union Hill…..and the Grateful Dead too when they were there! My hubby and I took our kids there too for Night of Thrills and swap meets yearly! Hope swap meets still go on there

      Reply
  6. Ron

    I am sad to see such a historical race track close. I came om the NHRA scene in the early 80s on the West Coast, Spent a couple of years in England at Santa Pod Raceway, Then in the late 80s at the Famous Raceway park / Etown Summer Nationals.
    I always looked forward to racing there.

    Reply
  7. Kevin Fay

    In my life time have seen 2 drag strips close both great tracks both historic and both missed dover dragway and glenns falls dragway is a shame our area had only 2 left with new england closeing now only 1 left can only imagine how much street raceing will increase which is what drag strips helped in keeping it off the street If we loose the one thats left it hurts everybody and all bracket of car hobby

    Reply
  8. ed

    keeping tracks open helps keep racing off the streets and gives kids something good to do and occupy their time rather than drug/gangs and crime……..sad to see another track bite the dust for to build more high price condo’s

    Reply
  9. Kevin Roche

    Wow! Marketing and advertising does control our freedom, and as an American, you and I need to stand up and express ourselves as a whole. Instead of thinking someone else will take care of it.
    I protest anything that prevents dragracing, like code enforcement telling you \”You can\’t build a drag car in your yard or driveway.\” In any event I bought my first drag car from Raceway Park in1971, its a 1963 ChevyII Nova Convertible. Put a 1966 ChevyII 327cu.in. block w/365HP, M-22 4 speed, 8 3/4\” Rearend w/18.5\” x 15\” Goodyear Blue Streak Indy Tires, and a MR.GASKET Vertical Gate Shifter in it and have been Drag Racing ever since.
    Locals need to petition thei buyer and everyone else involved. Speak up and look how much money that will take out of the community.

    Reply
  10. Dana R

    This leaves an opening in the Big Show schedule; I wonder which Bruton Smith owned venue will get it? He stole the event from Dinwiddee (Richmond) VA, why not grab this one, too…

    Reply
  11. Bg

    Ah well it was nice goin there for ratchet Friday’s guess no more bitches and cars will be fun in wensdays no more gana have to have car meets at the strip club now….. sucks gana miss the good times.

    Reply
  12. Chris Gambaro

    I have no idea if this is really true but a retired drag racer I had for a patient a few years back told me because all the past law suits that Raceway Park had to deal with over the past few decades over noise issues, caused this . This person said this was coming . I have lived in Englishtown all of my life and have been going to Raceway Park maybe 40 of my 50 years on this earth and I\’m heartbroken over this news . I still can\’t believe it . I live just a couple miles from Raceway Park Its going to be hard to live with this . I was just dreaming of opening day and doing a little racing . The next race track is an hour and a half from me, Atco . this sucks . What\’s Next ?Just another reason to leave this shithole they call New Jersey. I\’m pissed Off ! I really hope Drag Racing comes Back to Raceway Park , if there is a god . LOL

    Reply
    1. Rob Wariyle

      My dad is 81 years old. He recently told me that he has done many dumb things in his life (as we all have). But in 1970, he and my mom did the greatest thing of their lives…THEY PACKED UP THE FAMILY MOVED OUT OF THAT PIG PEN KNOWN AS NEW JERSEY! Shame on you Napp family!

      Reply
  13. Chris Gambaro

    Ok Economics is a big driver over this situation I get It , but fighting laws suits every 10 years puts a big hurting on profits especially In this dumbass corrupt state of NJ …..

    Reply
  14. geo815

    One less reason to visit the patch of shit east of the Delaware. Got the racing bug competing at the BMX track that was located right near the pit entrance. Good memories, and then some. With all of the sue-happy, NIMBY assholes living nearby, I’d take the money and run, too.

    Reply
  15. Michael Schwartz

    My guess is that the east (large) pits and all the drag strip past the end of the stadium will be converted into storage, about 52 acres worth. I don’t see them giving up the west (small) pits if they are still planning the swap meet, autocross, etc. Also, the stadium can be converted into a concert venue now.

    http://i.imgur.com/3OzfVk0.png

    Reply
  16. 69rrboy

    Well that REALLY sucks!!! A friend of mine said a couple years ago that once those “fancier” town houses went in on the entry road that there would be problems. Guess people who spent a fortune on them didn’t like all those loud cars and trailers going past there every weekend. Then why’d you move there?? Buy a map!!

    Same BS happened years ago at a track near me. In the wintertime they opened a new development right beside the track. When spring came around the people were “shocked” to find out they just moved beside a race track. Guess while they were looking the place over or while they were living there for a few months they never once wondered why that one “street” behind them looked so weird or why there was timing equipment and a sound wall in the middle of nowhere! Idiots!!!!! Of course they did nothing but bitch but thankfully the track won and is still open.

    Reply
  17. Jerry Smith

    wow What a sad day for drag racing fans I have been attending events there since 67 ,was part of the 68 springnationals there with my brother Keith
    raced there many times with our Nostalgia funny car ,and since becoming a Auto tech teacher brought my students there on career Fridays of the Nationals.

    Reply
    1. Joe

      Most people did not know of the 1968 NHRA Springnationals at Englishtown. I think it was called Madison Township Raceway Park back then. I drove up from Ft Gordon GA that weekend since I was still in the Army.

      Reply
  18. Jeff

    Go to hell Etown, ya bunch of sellouts. You shitcan the best part of your facility and keep the crap. Idiots. Hope all your future biz endeavors fail. Classless way to end a great facility. You SUCK!!!

    Reply
  19. Phillip

    From the first time my wife and I met those Knapp boys, I told her these guys are sitting on a gold mine it wasn\’t from drag racing, it\’s from real estate, Vinnie\’s happy he taught them, how to make money. Great for those boys.

    Reply
  20. Martin J

    Wow! I understand business is business but for Etown to go out this way just isn\’t right. Even if they shut it down after the Summer Nats would have been better than just cold turkey. Forty nine years of going there and poof it\’s all gone!

    Reply
  21. Frank Catalano

    I am very saddened by this I\’ve been going to Englishtown for almost 25 years and I wanted to introduce on this to my three-year-old son but now I can\’t because of these people and their stupid decisions hey napp family your making a big mistake

    Reply
  22. Frank Catalano

    I’m very saddened by this I have been going to Englishtown for over 25 years and I wanted to introduce this to my three-year-old son but now I can’t because you’re stupid decision you’re making a big mistake nap family

    Reply
  23. Ernie Vaupel

    I raced there 7 years straight, Sundays @ Wednesdays. Took my kids there. Enjoyed taking Nitro virgins there and seeing their reactions to the fuel cars. I fully understand the business decision to cease drag racing there especially with the sound issues with housing going up all around. I’ll miss going to the drags. Why dont we thank the Napp family for letting us enjoy a great drag racing facility for 50+ years instead of making all the negative comments. I flew rc airplanes for many years, taught my kids to fly, then had our field closed due to noise. My 8 year old daughter spoke at a meeting with fliers, residents and Freeholders, asking them to let us keep the field she was learning to be a RC pilot at. I’m livng in SC now. No such problems here….yet.

    Reply
  24. Falcon67

    NHRA statement on Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, NHRA Summernationals

    Yesterday Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., informed NHRA that it will no longer host any drag racing events at its facility, effective immediately. This includes the 49th annual NHRA Summernationals, scheduled to take place this June.

    Reply
  25. Falcon67

    Additional – you guys should remember that Baytown shut down operations last year to park cars from the floods. They are supposed to re-start this year. As noted, this is about $ and lots of it. We had a nice track way out in west Texas for a year – Dolaca IIRC – they shut down the 2nd year because the owner could take in $50,000+ letting farmers park cotton on the concrete and not have to lift a finger. Versus a few hundred $ – maybe – for a bracket race weekend. No brainer.

    Reply
  26. bob

    Take the money and run. I’m sure this wasn’t an easy decision, but if somebody throws enough money my way so that I can retire, maybe pay for the grandkids education and travel the world, I’m out of here. Nothing is forever and the smart person seizes on opportunities. Best wishes for the Knapps.

    Reply
  27. jerry z

    When a company offers $75 million to lease your property, it’s hard to say no. It’s sucks there will be no more drag racing but money talks and BS walks.

    At least the swap meets will still be happening.

    Reply
  28. David

    I met my wife there 33 years ago when I used to bracket race. Always enjoyed the old time drags and rod run every year. It\’s the end of an era.

    Reply
  29. TO ALL WHO FEEL THE SAME WAY AS I DO

    Here\’s a 1969 radio ad that ran on the also TRULY ICONIC WABC-AM radio station.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kqm67gqOIk
    Radio personality Dan Ingram is featured at the end of the ad with the Pams jingle for WABC station identification.

    Wow.Englishtown …GONE.Just like that.
    My earliest exposure to cars and drag racing was from Northern and Central New Jersey and the New York metro area.
    Very few things can be classified as iconic.
    That term is thrown around way too much,and has been since the early 1990s.
    Two things that can shoulder that statement and deserve to be called ICONS are Englishtown,N.J. and 77 WABC !!!
    This is truly like a death in the family for me.
    Englishtown has been a part of a my for my entire life.

    Reply
  30. Ed Schairer

    Atco on Saturay night…..Englishtown on Sunday, Sunday, Sunday…..for years and years…..great times…..part of growing up

    Reply

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