Houston Raceway Park's closing after 2022 NHRA sparks concerns over street racing

BAYTOWN, Texas (KTRK) -- Race fans, after 35 years, the Houston Raceway Park in Baytown will flash the green lights for the last time.

A post on the raceway's website said the end of the 2022 NHRA will "signal the end of an era in Texas motorsports history."

"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."

The Houston Raceway hosted its first national event in 1988. Since then, the raceway has been the site of many special moments, including victories for a pair of future multi-time world champions, according to its site.

While it's unclear why it will be closing, the raceway said that following the end of the 2022 NHRA, the new property owners will repurpose the drag racing complex into an industrial business park.

"We love this track. We have been coming here for months, years now," said driver Chris Perez.

"It's been part of my life my entire life," Brian Mason added.

Fast cars drove old and new racers out to the track where they could rev their engines for a legal and safe race. On Tuesday, they learned they're rolling toward the end of the road.

Mason said most of what he will miss happens off the track.

"I remember hanging out under the big oak tree when I was a kid. I remember the smell of the concession stand, the laughter, the joking, and the noises in the background. Those start to really come to the top, too," Mason said. "Those memories will really start to well up even more so as the date gets closer to shutting it down."

In 2022, this kind of car culture will have to find a different place to park, and Perez said that's disappointing.

"It sucks. That's it. That's really it," Perez said. "It sucks, but I guess we'll find somewhere else to go."

There is concern that with the closure, more street racing could take over Houston highways. Local law enforcement recently got together at the raceway to discourage that kind of dangerous driving, but soon, they won't be able to steer racers in this direction.

"It concerns me a lot for the guys that will not stop and think about what they're doing before they get out there and endanger themselves and others, in particular," Perez said.

The concern is catching speed at a racetrack that's short on time.

For more details on its closure, visit the Houston Raceway Park's website.
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