Enders and Johnson Close Out Drag Racing at Baytown

Houston Raceway Park, also known as Royal Purple Raceway, is a quarter-mile dragstrip built in 1988 on 500-acres east of Houston at Baytown TX. For over three decades the facility has been Houston’s only major multi-purpose motorsports venue. Last week, the Angel family who owned the historic track, announced that they had sold the land to the Belgian company Katoen Natie. The grounds will be developed into an industrial business park.

The National Hot Rod Association, the series sanctioning body, initially saw the SpringNationals bounce around among three different sites from 1965 to 1971. That’s when Wally Parks, the founder of the NHRA, decided to move the race to a popular facility in central Ohio called National Trail Raceway. In 1976, Shirley Muldowney became the first female to ever win a NHRA national event, adding to racing fans many memories of the event.

Since 1988, Houston Raceway Park had been a staple on the NHRA tour and the proximity of the track to Trinity Bay fed cool air across the facility. In turn, the coastal area has seen scores of record-breaking performances. This year’s sellout crowd witnessed the final rounds of the NHRA event to be staged at the renowned sea-level location. Sometimes hosting two NHRA events a year, none were more memorable than Texan Eddie Hill who posted the first four-second run in NHRA history at the initial event.

Enders Scores Final Win at Hometown Houston Track

Four-time NHRA world champion and Houston native Erica Enders closed the doors on thirty-five years of drag racing at the historic SpringNationals on Sunday in front of a capacity crowd at Houston Raceway Park. In her third win of the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing series, Enders beat Cuadra, Hartford, and Koretsky to set the stage for the first all-female Final round in Pro Stock history.

In just five events, Camrie Caruso, a 23-year old rookie Pro Stock driver, has put her name in the NHRA record books and also became the final Number One qualifier at Houston Raceway Park. It was not an easy day for Enders, who grew up racing at the Baytown facility. Caruso took the light but Enders was able to track her down at the finish to claim her third win of the season and the thirty-sixth Wally of her career with a victory. It was the fifth of 22 races scheduled for 2022 NHRA season.

Johnson Eliminates Defending Champ at SpringNationals

Steve Johnson has 464 career Pro Stock Motorcycle starts, which is far more than any other rider. After riding past defending NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series champ Matt Smith, the Suzuki rider earned another Wally for his trophy case. Johnson was dominant with a string of 6.7 ETs as he topped Michael Ray, Jimmy Underdahl, and four-time champion Eddie Krawiec to set stage for Sunday’s final. As one of the sports most resourceful riders, Smith had to switch bikes after his semifinal round.

Knowing that his Suzuki was ailing, Smith unloaded his championship winning Denso Buell from last season and posted a 6.811 ET with zero time on the bike. It likely didn't matter. Johnson was dominant from the first tree having made the quickest run in Houston Raceway Park history in the opening round and set a track record at both ends a round later with a 6.711 ET at 201.55 mph. Smith had eliminated Number One qualifier Karen Stoffer in a semifinal matchup.

Photo courtesy of Steve Johnson Racing Facebook


NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Charlotte

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action next weekend at “The Bellagio of Dragstrips” for the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte NC.


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