The Big Show Returns: The 44th Annual Norwalk Night Under Fire

Bill Bader, Jr. and the team at Summit Motorsports Park know how to put on an event, and the 44th Annual Kelly Services Night Under Fire (NUF) drove that fact home. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Summit Motorsports Park to remain closed for 2020, so Bader wanted this year’s show to be extra special — and it was. With more than 50,000 people in attendance — a sold-out crowd that Bader confirmed was the largest in its history — this year’s Night Under Fire was one for the record books.

The NUF is the biggest event on the Summit Motorsports Park schedule each year for a good reason: Bader books as many stars as he can to come put on a show for the fans. NHRA racers John Force, Ron Capps, Antron Brown, Cruz Pedregon, Brittany Force, and others all made the trip to Norwalk to give fans a big dose of nitro.

”We had a ton of talented entertainers, with cars, dragsters, motorcycles and jet engine-powered vehicles, on property for the Kelly Night Under Fire. They told us that they wanted to be there to put on a sensational show for the thousands of fans in attendance, and they did just that until late in the evening,” Bader says.

Fans got to see several of the nitro teams make two sessions of test hits during the day as they prepared for the show to begin. There were also two rounds of Pro Mod, Top Fuel Motorcycle, and Outlaw Dragster qualifying that took place before the show kicked off with a very patriotic theme. The heat was turned up during the first session of the show when Bob Motz experienced a mechanical failure in his famous jet-powered Kenworth. The big semi tractor spewed a massive unplanned fireball and fuel that damaged the surface of the track. Track prep wiz Kurt Johnson and his TVC team, along with the Summit Motorsports Park staff got the track back in shape for racing to resume, but then the lights went out a bit early at Summit Motorsports Park.

“The area-wide power outage that occurred later in the evening was heartbreaking for all of the entertainers, for my team and for myself. We all worked hard for, and wanted, a grand finale for the fans. While the entertainers weren’t able to return to the track surface for their final runs, we had an incredible fireworks display that went on as planned and ended the evening,” Bader explains.

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Fans that were in attendance at the 2021 NUF saw just how dedicated the Bader family is to put on an epic show. Bill Bader Jr. and his staff pushed through every obstacle that was placed in front of them to make sure each fan was entertained as much as possible. One thing is for sure, Summit Motorsports Park is going to be rocking in 2022 when the NUF returns, and you’ll want to be there to see what the Bader family has planned.

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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