The Houston Raceway Park, one of drag racing’s premier venues for 35 years, held its final event on April 1, 2023, and many hoped the entire saga was but an all-time-great April Fool’s joke, or that perhaps the facility could stave off the timeline for its redevelopment for a few more seasons. But Seth Angel, HRP’s Vice President & General Manager, assured DRAGZINE in a March 2022 interview that once Belgian shipping and logistics firm Katoen Natie (KTN), the new owners of the property who were leasing the dragway back to the Angel’s while it awaited redevelopment, came calling, it would be final. And it was.
Within days of the final event, the Houston Performance Truck Shootout & Truck Show, footage emerged showing heavy equipment tearing down the more than half-a-mile-long concrete guardrails that had kept Top Fuel dragsters, Pro Modified, the world’s quickest imports, and untold thousands of other racing machines within the confines of the historic 1/4-mile since its opening in 1988. Shortly thereafter, the three-story timing tower came down, all of it a flurry of activity as KTN pressed forward with its plan to wipe the raceway off the map and replace it with warehouses and shipping operations.
April 13, 2023
June 13, 2023
Three months after its closing, the dragstrip itself remains, but little is recognizable, and it certainly doesn’t look like anything that would have hosted 260 mph door cars just a scant four months earlier. The landscape has been so altered and so overgrown since its closing that, save for the finish line scoreboards, even the locals are unlikely to recognize the place they spent so many of their weekends.
The YouTube page Worthy Texas Videos visited the facility just two weeks after its final race to document the demolition process, and then returned again in mid-June to see what had become of it in the ensuing two months. At that time, only the scoreboards and the half-dismantled pit-side grandstands remaining standing, and since that second video, the grandstands have fully disappeared, leaving only a dirty, weathered blacktop and some now-damaged starting line items. It’s a process that has, sadly, played out far too many times over the course of drag racing history, but never in those early days did we have digital cameras and the internet to document the decay and the destruction of the places we’ve held near and dear.