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Goodbye, Firebird Raceway — hello, Wild Horse Motorsports Park

Jun 23, 2013, 2:21 PM EST

Antron Brown earned his first No. 1 qualifying spot of the season in Saturday's final run before Sunday's eliminations in the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip in Las Vegas. Antron Brown earned his first No. 1 qualifying spot of the season in Saturday's final run before Sunday's eliminations in the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip in Las Vegas.

Firebird International Raceway in suburban Phoenix has long been a popular venue for a variety of motorsports events, particularly NHRA drag racing on its quartermile asphalt track, drag boat competition in a man-made lake on the property, plus two road courses and an off-road track.

But Firebird is no more — at least in name, according to the Arizona Republic.

Say goodbye to Firebird and hello to Wild Horse Motorsports Park, which will reopen under its new name for the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series event Sept. 13-15.

After a 30-year run by well known motorsports promoter and now former track president Charlie Allen, whose lease agreement with the Gila River Indian Community, which owns the land that Firebird Raceway sits upon, expired and was not renewed, a new management team (Copper Train) Development Partners LLC) has signed an agreement to operate the expansive 458-acre facility along Interstate 10 just south of Phoenix.

As is often the case, with a new name comes change. Various capital improvements are likely for the aging facility that, the Republic reported: “Gila River Indian Community has a greater financial incentive to invest in improvements for both competitors and fans, and make the races more popular and successful.”

Copper Train managing partner Paul Clayton told the Republic, “Our job is to come in and create relationships with the community, sponsorships and all sorts of events. We want families to be able to enjoy the facility, with clean bathrooms, and improve the overall fan experience.”

Other likely improvements are a new timing and scoring system for the drag strip and replacing 700 grandstand seats that had previously been removed.

In addition, the NHRA and Gila River have agreed on a contract extension to continue the track’s hosting of the Arizona Nationals — which the now former Firebird Raceway has hosted since 1985 — for at least the next five years.

The Arizona Nationals are typically held in late February and retaining that event was the “Number 1″ priority, NHRA President Tom Compton told the Republic.

“If we weren’t in Phoenix it would be a disaster,” Compton said. “It’s the sixth-largest market in the country and it is diverse. NHRA has an element of diversity (female and minority drivers) that is unmatched by any other motorsport in the country that I’m aware of. It reflects our fan base very well. … I think there’s a tremendous opportunity to take Wild Horse to a new level.”

  1. moezilla - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Wanted to thank you for the recent NHRA articles….I usually head to NHRA’s official website to keep up to date with recent news, points, schedules, etc….It’s nice to be able to visit another website with, hopefully, a different perspective on, in my opinion, America’s number one motorsport….it has been frustrating to watch as the NHRA and professional drag racing in general, has taken a backseat to NASCAR, Formula 1, and the like….great storylines abound in today’s NHRA, John and Courtney Force, father and daughter, racing in a 250+ mph, tire smoking final round yesterday at New England Drag way, a race track that has spent nearly 50 years trying to bring a NHRA national event to its fans….many other stories just like these…thanks for putting these articles out there….here’s hoping that web sites like yours and the passion for drag racing that the fans in New Hampshire put on display yesterday will help restore the prominence of the NHRA….

  2. dragzilla - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Great news! Can’t wait to get back on a local track again!

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