Back in 1964, the gates swung open at National Trail Raceway (NTR) in Hebron, Ohio through the vision of the Rader family and their desire to create a fantastic racing facility. Over the course of 55 years, NTR has been the scene for many historic moments in drag racing, but it also has been a hub for local racing and regional events. Jason Murray and Jay Livingston are leading the charge to make the NTR a focal point of local racing with many events, including the annual King of Columbus race.
In 2017, Shelby LLC purchased NTR from the NHRA and began an aggressive improvements campaign to the aging facility. The goal of Shelby LLC was to restore NTR to a top-tier race track and attract bigger events in the future. So far the list of updates is substantial, including a fresh racing surface, better staging lanes, and renovated restrooms.
When Murray and Livingston came onboard they saw several enormous opportunities to make in impact with NTR. After getting up to speed and learning more about the track’s history, they saw the King of Columbus race as something that needed to return.
“When we purchased the track back in December we learned there really hasn’t been any big tire, small tire, or street-legal type of racing here. What we wanted to do was bring this event back and all of its history to crown a new King of Columbus in 2019, along with introducing the Queen of Columbus. For us, it’s all about embracing the history of this race track and to start bringing big events back. We want everybody to come out to National Trail Raceway and feel like its home whether you’re a bracket racer, test and tuner, or heads up racer,” Murray explains.
The King of Columbus hadn’t been run since 2017 and was in need of a facelift due to a lack of interest. Murray rolled up his selves and got to work injecting some fresh ideas and effort into the event. Instead of being a part of the Friday night test and tune program, the King of Columbus was brought back as a standalone event on a Saturday. The 2019 event got some new classes added, including the Queen of Columbus, Hard Tire, Outlaw Street Bike, Open Comp, Roll Racing, and True Street.
Murray’s goal was to revamp the event to not only attract more spectators with a better show but to give more people an opportunity to participate in the race. Knowing what he was up against, Murray stayed realistic and optimistic about how the King of Columbus would fare.
“Our expectations started very small for this year. One of the things we had heard was how much the event had fallen off in the past so we knew this would be like starting over. If you’re trying to rebuild something you have to start at the bottom and hope for the best. As long as the people who came out this year liked it we will look for what we can improve on for next year and make the event better. We will make changes based on feedback, so the King of Columbus will be back in 2020,” Murray says.
Not everyone can travel to the big heads-up races that are held around the country each year. Having local tracks that put on grassroots events like the King of Columbus are crucial to keeping the sport of drag racing alive and prosperous. Each of these events at local tracks represents the opportunity to create new fans and keep facilities going so make sure you check out any local event and do your part to support grassroots drag racing.