WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As Dragway 42 gets ready to host this weekend’s International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit Sportsman Spectacular, we caught up with the track’s general manager Gary Harper to answer some questions about the Ohio facility and what makes it so special.
Dragway 42, a 1/4-mile track in West Salem, Ohio and multi-purpose facility has been around for over 60-years originally opening in 1957. In 2017, the track underwent a compete ground up renovation.
The IHRA Summit Sportsman Spectacular races are tailored to the track’s weekly racing programs.
The double race weekend is tailored to Dragway 42’s weekly racing program featuring Top, Mod, Junior Dragsters, Sportsman and Bike competing on Moser Engineering Saturday and Battle Born Batteries Sunday. Also, in action will be four Nitro Fuel Alterds and Gasser Madness AA/Gassers running on Moser Engineering Saturday.
Q: Dragway 42 has been around for over 57 years and recently underwent a complete renovation, how has the renovation helped with races, racers and attracting bigger events?
Gary Harper: Having a brand-new surface for racing has helped with the racing. We give the racers a consistent track lane to lane. We have ACE Ohio Events LLC. will be back twice this year with their triple 20’s and SFG promotion will be here again with the Buckeye Bracket Nationals. This year Dragway 42 also has the inaugural Top Bulb Blitz.
Q: Dragway 42 is multi-purpose facility, talk about some of the events outside of racing that the track will have this year?
Harper: We have added a NTPA Tractor Pull September 21. In October we have a Rugged Maniac, a 5K Obstacle course and in November we have added an event that involves drag racing, dirt drags and sled pulling. We also have Rock n Race in August which is our Nostalgia drag race, but it also has 10 bands for entertainment. Plus, on certain weekend we have auto cross and have had since we opened.
Q: What are some of the rewards of the running Dragway 42? What are some of the challenges that you face?
Harper: The rewarding part of Dragway 42 is seeing the diversity of racers who come to the facility. We see racers from our grassroots bracket clientele, the traveling bracket racer, the import racer and our local mid-week program racers all coming to have fun and win. We know that Dragway 42 cannot be everything to everybody, but we can be a little bit of something to a lot of people. I think the diversity of the type of racers who come to our facility show that.
At Dragway 42 we face some of the same things that other tracks face such as racer count and spectator counts. Making sure that we offer a value as well as keeping the company in the black is always a struggle, but it is a challenge we will continue to win.
Q: Dragway 42 won the Division 3 NorthStars Team Finals in 2018, how did that help you showcase the strong competition that racers might face on a given week?
Harper: Dragway 42 has some of the most competitive racers in Ohio. Our bracket team has depth and experience. Our SSS Points racers are a diverse group. We have racers from Kentucky, Canada, West Virginia, Pennsylvania as well from all over Ohio. We offer the largest payout for a points race in the area. This attracts very competitive racers. The more competition there is at a facility that better all the racers get.