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Rain forces NHRA to alter weekend schedule

By JOE CENTERS • Jun 18, 2019 at 1:00 PM

“One of those years.”

As preparations continue for this weekend’s 13th Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park, the eye is definitely in the sky.

Mother Nature has kicked park president Bill Bader Jr. right in the starting line this year. With all of the rain, the park grounds are saturated and parking will be at a premium. Six hundred-plus campers already have been told to go somewhere else — and the sportsman schedule has been postponed to a later date. That means there will be no racing on Thursday.

Action is now set to begin at 1 p.m. Friday with the professional sessions the same as scheduled followed by fireworks.

“It’s funny, because it started out wet and I knew that Memorial Day was going to be kind of the D mark,” Bader said. “Historically, by Memorial Day, a switch flips and it gets dry and hot — and that never happened. I talked to a neighbor who is a farmer and he said the entire time he has been farming he has never seen the ground as wet as it is now. The sponge is full and there is no place for it to go.

On Sunday morning, the NHRA announced it was going to postpone running Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, Stock, Super Stock, Super Comp and Super Gas. That will free up the west side of the grandstands.

What about the parking?

“I am doing the math,” Bader said. “We have 300 acres available to us. We are not going to be able to stack them like tin soldiers. ... Three acres here, five acres there. Each acre can hold about 120 parked cars with 2 1/2 people per car.

“Determine how many acres you need and go find it,” he added.

With the ever-changing weather reports, Bader said it is hard to look too far ahead. 

“Whatever we get we get,” he said. “If any racetrack in the country can handle that kind of adversity we can. It’s what we do. It’s not easy.”

This marks the halfway mark of the season, and Bader isn’t alone with his battles.

“It’s wet everywhere,” he said. “I think NHRA has had rain and even snow earlier in the year. Rain. Wet. Rain Checks. Postponements. Reschedules. It just seems like that’s the way the jetstream is set up.”

Bader said there was rain in California and snow in Arizona.

“Sponsor sales are up,” Bader said. “Car counts are way up. If the weather cooperated, this would have been a bumper year. The economy is good. The sport is healthy. We just need a little cooperation.”

What happens if rain hampers this weekend’s schedule?

“I get the impression from NHRA that their mentality is with Fox Sports, with TV slotting, with the immense logistical nightmares of moving this traveling show, that I think we are here until it is run.”

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