The rumors swirling regarding the future of the Tulsa Raceway Park in Oklahoma became official today as track owner/operator Dan Guterman issued a statement regarding the sale of the track and the land it occupies to what’s being reported as a nearby mining business.
The quarter-mile facility, formerly known as Tulsa International Raceway and one of the premier drag racing institutions in the central part of the country, opened in 1965 and has continually operated since that time. This season, TRP played host to the NHRA’s Division 5 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the AHDRA Mid-West Nationals, HOT ROD Drag Week, and countless other special weekly and annual events. In all, the tracks’ 2011 race schedule features nearly 100 days of racing, test and tune, and other events.
In 1972, the Tulsa International Raceway was the site of one drag racing’s most infamous events – the PRA National Challenge. The race was contested opposite of the NHRA “Nationals” in Indianapolis, and was the brainchild of Don Garlits and Jim Tice. The one-time event featured what is still considered one of the stoutest fields of Top Fuel Dragsters in the sports’ history.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the closing of Tulsa Raceway Park, effective October 24, 2011,” said Guterman. “When Tulsa International Raceway was purchased in 2003, the decision was made to tear down and replace the existing facility with the hopes of restoring the drag strip to its glory days. With the help of many hard working employees and loyal racers and fans, we grew year after year. Unfortunately, the economy over the last three years has taken its toll.”
“I appreciate the many people who helped me along the way make Tulsa Raceway Park one of the finest race tracks in the Midwest and hope that someone is able to continue the drag racing tradition that Tulsa has embraced for 46 years. For those racers who achieved success this year, we are planning the Champions’ Banquet for early November so they can be honored by their fellow racers. We’re not done yet, either. Besides the Throw Down in T-Town race scheduled for October 14-15, the Diesel Drags and Mod vs. Rod race on October 22 and the Duck Drags on October 22, several of you have asked for one last bracket race. We are looking at having that race on October 16. I wish each one of you success in the future, whether it be on the track or elsewhere, and look forward to the opening of the next, new drag strip. With a saddened heart I deliver the above message.”
According to the Tulsa World, the track saw a record 125,000 spectators in 2010 – a number that decreased by 25 percent this season. Guterman cites not only the economic climate and high fuel costs, but the heat that the Midwest experienced this summer for the drop in attendance.
Tulsa Raceway Park will offer free admission to the Throw Down in T-Town – the biggest event of the season – on October 14-15. Parking for the event is $10.