On November 1, In-N-Out Burger has become the title sponsor of the equally iconic Pomona, California, Rally and NHRA Finals.
The move shatters rumors that the 70-year-old track will be a repeat of Atlanta Motor Speedway, Houston Speedway Park, Virginia Motorsports Park and Old Bridge (NJ) Township Speedway Park — all of which Both have been off the NHRA schedule since 2018. Arizona’s Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park will host its final race in February.
However, the Route 66 track in Joliet, Illinois will return to the schedule next season after a two-year absence.
Perhaps more importantly, the NHRA announcement cemented the sport’s footprint in Southern California. Combined with the same day’s announcement that NHRA had signed a multi-year extension with the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, at least until the 2033 season, the turn of fortune was truly ecstatic.
With five of the 19 national venues sure to disappear from the schedule over the past five years, the NHRA will lose about 25 percent of its tracks. So the multiyear deals with Fairplex and In-N-Out Burger represent a push back against broader problems.
It’s the kind of policy the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to enact that could disrupt traditional American recreation, which could create thousands of jobs and support a robust $2 billion market.
On the eve of testifying before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in September. On August 7, Top Fuel racer and team owner Antron Brown made an impassioned argument about the urgency to protect motorsports by advocating for the passage of the Recognition of Motorsports Protections Act.
“SEMA, and all of the PRI members and PRI employees, they’ve been fighting the RPM Act for the past six years,” Brown said. “A lot of people don’t even know what’s going on behind the scenes. EPA, they have the Clean Air Act, they have a lot of cases where they step in and go over their borders and stop people from wanting to modify standard race cars, motorcycles, cars so they can It is possible to continue racing on a closed track like we did.
“Going from Erica Enders in Junior Dragsters to Pro Stock champion, if we can pass, the RPM Act will protect that,” Brown pointed out. “Without it, this kid from New Jersey has to convert his GXR 1100 and turn it from a street bike to a trail bike…if I can’t do that and race at the Atco Dragway in Englishtown, Delaware With all the drag strips in and around Cecil County, State, I wouldn’t be here today as a professional drag racer.
“I think it’s really important for our children and grandchildren because that’s how you can do it at an affordable level. That’s what it’s all about. It’s just educating them, getting the bill on Capitol Hill Everyone here understands what we do.”
PRI officials described the RPM Act of 2021 (HR 3281/S.2736) as “commonsense, bipartisan legislation designed to protect the right of Americans to convert street vehicles Racing drivers are able to compete. The act clarifies that it is legal to make emission-related modifications to street vehicles in order to convert them into race cars exclusively for competition. It also confirms the legality of producing, selling and installing racing equipment .”
It said, “The RPM Act overturns EPA’s interpretation that the Clean Air Act does not permit the conversion of motor vehicles designed for street use — including cars, trucks, or motorcycles — into purpose-built race cars.”
While it might seem like a leap of hyperbole to say that the NHRA’s In-N-Out Burger announcement has neutralized the threat from the EPA, it’s not. The connections are there—in the fight to preserve long-term business (the fabled Pomona drag strip will turn 70 in 2023, and the In-N-Out Burger will celebrate its 75th anniversary) and American heritage.
Lynsi Snyder, owner and president of In-N-Out Burger (herself a former drag racer), said, “Drag racing and hot rods have always been a big part of our In-N-Out history, and the love of racing has always been A big part of my family, too. I have so many special memories at Pomona Speedway, many of them with my dad, and I really look forward to being a part of In-N-Out for many years to come.
“We are fortunate to have many loyal customers who are also racing fans and we are delighted to see them on the track.”
This is the heart of business: relationships.
Some people are famous. Some people don’t. For example, Tommy and Judy Franklin, owners of Virginia Motorsports Park, said in a prepared statement that VMP completed its contract with the NHRA and that the renewal “would only detract from our financial need to continue to grow as a facility.” That It’s a decline in business.
But former Pro Stock rider Kenny Koretsky represents the business process. Earlier this year, his KPK Entertainment property purchased Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pennsylvania, saving it from possible closure. This is another success that NHRA can count on in 2022.
Philadelphia-area business magnate Koretsky invested millions in purchasing, upgrading and modernizing the 60-year-old venue, which has been home to its historic drag racing milestones, improving the quality of NHRA drag racing.
In addition to overseeing field construction and mowing the lawn himself, Koretsky frantically directed traffic, cleaned restrooms and emptied the trash during the recent Pep Boys Nationals countdown to the tournament.
His attention to detail shows his passion and commitment to the sport.
Other racers expressed interest in owning the track. Scrappers Racing owner and Top Fuel racer Mike Salinas said he inquired about buying Florida’s Palm Beach International Raceway.
That didn’t work out, but the San Francisco-area businessman said, “We’re looking at four facilities right now. We want growing facilities. They’re all on the East Coast.” The dangers of getting Fang involved: “It’s almost impossible to find like-minded people.” He also said that he “checked out a few other tracks before getting into trouble, but it was kind of hard to jump into the middle of what was already a mess. “
Even so, he still enjoys it.
“There is a solution to do that,” he said. “As individuals, business owners and racers, we have a lot to do to find the right people. So we have to find those tracks. I think it’s there. I think it can be done. But we just have to be A team coming together and working together to make sure we all have the same goals: racing, success and the happiness of the racing community.”
John Force, the NHRA’s most successful driver with 155 victories, said he had his eye on two tracks he wanted to buy, but said he dropped the idea after learning he couldn’t own both.
He said he’s been “talking to them (NHRA executives) for years, but they’re not going to sell. There are only two places that interest me: California (Pomona) because that’s my home, and Indy.” . But they’re not going to sell Indy. Right now, I’m doing nothing but waiting to see what happens.”
Koretsky cautions that owning a track can be more time-consuming than expensive, and it’s not for everyone. He said he wouldn’t encourage it unless someone would come into the deal with open eyes (and wallets) and an emotional connection to the venue. For him, “Maple Grove is such a special property,” he said.
Koretsky’s purchase of Maple Grove Raceway, the return of Joliet racing and the growth of Pomona were among the highlights for the NHRA heading into the new year.