Old Bridge Township Raceway Park

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Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, originally known as Madison Township Raceway Park, is an American auto racing facility located in Old Bridge Township, in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States, (with an Englishtown ZIP code), in the New York metropolitan area.

History[edit]

Raceway Park was founded in 1965 by Vincent Napoliello and Louis Napoliello.[1] The site was originally 308 acres on 230 Pension Road, just off of County Route 527 (now Englishtown Road). Since then it has grown to 500+ acres with multiple motorsports activities. The track opened with a single 1/4 mile dragstrip. Raceway Park offered two dragstrips, three motocross tracks, a 1.3-mile (2.1 km) road course track, competition go kart racing track, autocross track, ride and drive site and adjacent Old Bridge Airport.

Their radio and television commercials featured the slogan: "Ah ha ha ha ha ha Raceway Park!" and "Rrrrrrrrraceway Park! ... Be there!".[2][3] Raceway Park "is one of the most fabled drag strips in America, and it ranked among the country's top five tracks".[2]

Raceway Park previously hosted the SuperNationals (later Summernationals) of the National Hot Rod Association for Funny Car and Top Fuel competitions, as well as other drag racing events. In January 2018, NHRA and Raceway Park officials announced that the venue will cease hosting all drag racing events due to rising costs. Areas specific to drag racing will be converted to outdoor concert space. All other areas of the facility will remain operational, such as the drift track, go karts, motocross, etc.[4]

As concert venue[edit]

On September 3, 1977, the Grateful Dead performed for a crowd of 107,019 at Raceway Park, becoming the largest ticketed concert in the United States to date.[5] The show was recorded and released in album form as part of "Dick's Picks", a series of live albums, in 1999.[6] The concert was the largest in the state's history. In 2017, Rolling Stone named the Raceway Park concert as part of the tour listed as one of the greatest of all time.[7] The concert is celebrated and remembered fondly by band members and music enthusiasts alike. "I grew up in Englishtown, New Jersey, and as a child played in the green field where the concert took place. It was a blessing to join some 150,000 colorful people who attended the memorable show that summer day," said Jerry Garcia's wife, Manasha Garcia, president and co-founder of the Jerry Garcia Foundation."[8] The Marshall Tucker Band and the New Riders of the Purple Sage performed as opening acts.[9] In May 2018, the Englishtown Project, a New Jersey touring band was formed to the celebrate the legendary concert. The group was formed by guitarist and singer Michael Falzarano, formerly of the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and Hot Tuna.[10]

Racing events[edit]

As of January 17, 2018, the two drag strips on the property are closed. Raceway Park no longer hosts drag racing events of any type

The 1/8-mile track was the host of junior dragsters and "trophy" classes. The 1/4-mile track was the host of everything from street-driven vehicles to the quickest in the sport, the top fuel dragsters.

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series[edit]

Year Date(s) Event Category Winning Driver
1986 July 10−14 17th NHRA Budweiser Summernationals Top Fuel Darrell Gwynn
Funny Car Kenny Bernstein
Pro Stock Warren Johnson
1990 July 5−8 21st NHRA Budweiser Summernationals Top Fuel Gary Ormsby
Funny Car Chuck Etchells
Pro Stock Darrell Alderman
2006 June 15–18 K&N Filters SuperNationals [11] Top Fuel Rod Fuller
2007 June 21−24 38th ProCare Rx NHRA SuperNationals Top Fuel Larry Dixon
Funny Car Tommy Johnson, Jr.
Pro Stock Greg Anderson
Pro Stock Motorcycle Craig Treble
2011 June 2−5 42nd NHRA SuperNationals Top Fuel Spencer Massey
Funny Car Mike Neff
Pro Stock Allen Johnson
Pro Stock Motorcycle Matt Smith
2016 June 9−12 47th NHRA Summernationals Top Fuel Steve Torrance
Funny Car Ron Capps
Pro Stock Greg Anderson
Pro Stock Motorcycle Angelle Sampey
2017 June 8-11 48th E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Summernationals Top Fuel Steve Torrance
Funny Car Jack Beckman
Pro Stock Greg Anderson
Pro Stock Motorcycle Jerry Savoie

Motocross[edit]

The riding surfaces on the practice motocross tracks are mostly soft loam, which is known to be one of the best surfaces for a nice ride, and are slightly angled to allow for drainage. The tracks are also regularly maintained to keep the jump faces, bowls, and whoops from rutting and cupping out. The tracks provide both long, straight paths for speed and challenging obstacles such as off cambers, banks, ledges, and ditches.

Drifting[edit]

Drifting is hosted by a company called ClubLoose; they have been running events there since 2002, which started off in the parking lot, but now take places only on the road course. With different classes ranging from introductory, intermediate, and the top level which allows tandeming with other drivers on the track simultaneously. Both the car and the equipment being used by every driver get inspected prior to being allowed to participate. Rear-wheel-drive cars are the only cars that will pass ClubLoose technical inspection.

Event schedule[edit]

Raceway Park offers a series of car shows, concerts, mud runs, motocross and swap meet events throughout their season. In the past every Wednesday and select Friday nights they had Time Trials where the track was open for anyone who would like to race their cars, bike, etc. for practice.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • In June 2008, Nitro Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta was killed during NHRA Supernationals qualifying at the dragstrip.[12]
  • In June 2010, Alcohol Funny Car driver Neal Parker was killed during NHRA Supernationals qualifying at the dragstrip.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "For Fans Around Raceway Park, What's Loud Is Not Always Noisy". New York Times. August 8, 2004.
  2. ^ a b "Raceway Park; In These Lanes, 200 M.P.H. Is Slow". New York Times. August 23, 1999.
  3. ^ "Raceway Park commercial". WABC (AM). 1969.
  4. ^ "After 53 years burning rubber, drag racing ends at Raceway Park". NJ.com. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  5. ^ "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. September 17, 2017. p. 39. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  6. ^ "'Eyes of the World,' The Grateful Dead at Raceway Park, Englishtown". NJArts.net. 2014-10-09. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  7. ^ https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/the-50-greatest-concerts-of-the-last-50-years-127062/
  8. ^ https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44784685-deadheads-remember-englishtown-77
  9. ^ "40 Years Ago Today, The Grateful Dead Drew Over 125,000 to Raceway Park", Relix, September 4, 2017. Accessed August 31, 2020. "Over Labor Day weekend 1977, the Grateful Dead played a one-off gig at Englishtown, New Jersey’s Raceway Park that drew over 125,000 fans to the facility (in his book A Long Strange Trip, Dennis McNally estimates attendance as 'more than 150,000'). Billed as the Summer’s End Concert, the performance on Saturday, September 3, 1977, was the group’s first show in nearly three months, and also featured opening sets from the Marshall Tucker Band and New Riders of the Purple Sage."
  10. ^ Lello, Michael. "Englishtown Project Recreates Classic 1977 Grateful Dead, New Riders & Marshall Tucker Concert", Highway 81, April 17, 2019. Accessed August 31, 2020. "Tribute bands are commonplace, but the Englishtown Project might just be one of a kind: a group that pays tribute to one particular concert. The group, formed by guitarist and singer Michael Falzarano (New Riders of the Purple Sage, former Hot Tuna), recreates the legendary Sept. 3, 1977, show in Englishtown, New Jersey, which was headlined by the Grateful Dead and also featured the New Riders and the Marshall Tucker Band."
  11. ^ "Fuller Wins Top-Fuel Event". New York Times. Associated Press. June 19, 2006.
  12. ^ "Scott Kalitta, Drag Racer, Dies in Crash". New York Times. Associated Press. June 22, 2008.
  13. ^ "Drag-race driver Neal Parker killed in crash, New Jersey, NHRA to launch investigation". New York Daily News. 2010-06-11.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°19.985′N 74°20.922′W / 40.333083°N 74.348700°W / 40.333083; -74.348700