When the final pair of Top Fuel dragsters roar down Houston Raceway Park Powered by Pennzoil at the conclusion of the 2022 NHRA national event, the echoing thunder of their combined 22,000-plus horsepower will signal the end of an era in Texas motorsports history.
Immediately following the event, the new property owners will repurpose the drag racing complex into an industrial business park.
“Our family is extremely proud to have showcased the top level of professional drag racing for 35 wonderful years,” track operator Seth Angel said. “It’s been a dream come true to meet and work with all the incredible drivers, team owners and NHRA executives who come together each year to entertain the millions of racing fans in our area.
“From preseason tests, to years where we had two national events, to the scores of legends who have raced here, on to the championships decided on our grounds, it’s been an incredible high-speed ride. Our family is forever indebted to the sport of NHRA drag racing and will cherish the amazing memories we’ve made when this chapter closes next spring.”
Renowned for its sea-level location at the top of Trinity Bay, which creates a race-perfect, oxygen-rich environment, Houston Raceway Park Powered by Pennzoil hosted its first national event in 1988. At the time, the 500-acre facility was co-owned by the Gay family of Dickenson, Texas, longtime friends of brothers Greg, Gary and Glen Angel (deceased). The Angel brothers then bought out the Gay family’s interest in 2004.
Houston Raceway Park has been the site of many special moments, none more so than the NHRA’s first four-second run, a 4.99 set by Texan Gene Snow at the 1988 race. Fellow Texan Eddie Hill quickly topped Snow by running a staggering 4.93 in the final round of Top Fuel to win the race, sending off a worldwide frenzy of interest in the sport.
Other memorable moments at HRP include “The Burndown,” when bitter rivals Warren Johnson and Scott Geoffrion sat in the pre-stage beams for more than a minute trying to unnerve one another; first-time victories for a pair of future multi-time world champions, Scott Kalitta and Jeg Coughlin Jr.; Larry Dixon running the first quarter-mile pass under 4.5 seconds when he posted a 4.48 in 1999; Michael Phillips becoming the first African-American to win in a pro category in 1997; and three inclusions into both the Pro Stock 200 mph Club and the Top Fuel 300 mph Club.