New Jersey’s Atco Dragway, in business since 1960, abruptly announced its permanent closure and the cancellation of all future events in a social media statement Tuesday afternoon, leaving competitors and fans both local and across the country confounded and saddened.
“Effective immediately: Atco Dragway is permanently closed. We will not be open from this point on. The remainder of our schedule for 2023 will be canceled. Thank you all for your patronage and memories over the years. Special thank you to our 29th annual Pan American Nationals racers & crowd for making Atco Dragway’s last event the biggest and best one ever. This isn’t the end for import racing in the northeast! To all of our staff, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sticking it out with us and being the best in the business!” the statement read.
The news came just two days after the famed NHRA Division 1 facility wrapped up another highly successful Pan American Nationals, one of its marquee annual events that had been held there for the last 29 seasons. Only 24 hours earlier, the track’s staff, led by owner Len Capone, thanked its fans and racers for turning out in record numbers for the Pan American event and stated it was looking forward to next year’s edition. Locals say Capone received an offer for the property, and 63 years of history came to an end just like that.
In 2020, a well-known auto auction firm made a highly-publicized but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to purchase the property — a bid that was contested heavily by the local contingent of racers. Capone himself co-signed on the redevelopment application submitted to the New Jersey Pinelands Commission at that time.