Mother Nature hasn’t been very kind to those in the Midwest who farm for a living or enjoy drag racing. Record levels of precipitation of all forms have been falling since 2019 started, and the ground hasn’t had a chance to dry out leaving many tracks with very soggy pit spaces. The wet conditions have forced Bill Bader Jr. and the NHRA to make some drastic changes to this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park.
Bill Bader Jr. and his family have been owners of the property that Summit Motorsports Park (SMP) sits on since 1974. For the past 45 years, the family has worked tirelessly to make SMP one of the best tracks in the country by providing a great racing facility and outstanding experiences for racing fans. The weather in 2019 has been awful at SMP, to say the least. It has been the wettest start to a year so far since 1953, the track has only completed two events so far due to the rain, and in the past week, a series of storms have dumped over seven inches of rain with more to come this week.
The goal for the Bader family is to provide guests and racers with more than just a race, they want to give them a positive memorable experience. With the challenges the weather has provided it was becoming apparent that there would need to be some changes made to the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals.
“Some realities starting setting in over the last few days and the first one was our campgrounds are completely flooded. We started chipping away and created this hierarchy of what we needed to do. The first step was to close all the campgrounds, so we had to make 609 phone calls to the campers starting on Friday and finished up on Sunday. We let them know their campsite was flooded and there was nothing we could do because there was rain forecasted for the next seven days. We offered them a full refund for their campsite and any tickets they had for the event. Everyone, for the most part, was understanding,” Bader explains.
Doing the right thing for guests at SMP has come with a heavy price tag, but that isn’t an issue for Bader since he believes in being a guest-centric businessperson. Bader said that a local farmer informed him they would need five days of sun and wind from the south to get things dry, the weather forecast isn’t providing that.
Bader and the NHRA had to evaluate the pitting situation for the sportsman racers who wouldn’t be on the pavement at SMP. Another tough decision had to be made to ensure all who attended the event would have a great experience.
“I’ve had been in conversation with the NHRA over the last three days talking multiple days per day about what was going on. Sunday we had a call at 8:00 am and the decision was made to postpone the event for all of the racers who pit on the Summit side of the track. This included all of the Stock, Super Stock, Super Gas, Top Sportsman, and Top Dragster racers. We are looking at dates now to salvage this for the more than 350 sportsman racers. I realize it’s an inconvenience and not a national event, but we will make it special for them,” Bader says.
With the difficult decisions made Bader and the NHRA are moving full steam ahead to make the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals a great event. Fans will still get to see the Factory Stock Showdown, Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Cars race along Pro Mod and the Mellow Yellow Series classes when racing begins this weekend.