|National Trail Raceway & Clark Rader Jr.
Who could possibly forget such classics as the Hemi Under Glass or the Little Red Wagon? What about the names Don "the Snake" Prudhomme, Don Garlits, the Ohio Gassers, and Gordon Collett? No one around the Kirkersville, Buckeye Lake, and Hebron areas, for sure. National Trail Raceway has seen the best racers from around the Midwest and the world race down the famous Ľ mile and participate in great racing action. With all of the success that the area has gained through the track, it was a vision of the Rader family that brought the finest racing in the world to Central Ohio.
The Rader Years
Using the premise "Build it and they will come," Clark Rader Sr., a man who made his fame through vaudeville acts, along with sons Clark Jr. and Ben, broke ground for National Trail Raceway in the fall of 1963. Located in Kirkersville, it was a 320-acre facility, the fifth largest of its kind in the United States at the time. Upon completion of the complex in 1964, the Raders began the work towards making National Trail Raceway the best racing facility in the Midwest.
In 1972, after using three different tracks in the seven years, National Trail Raceway played host for the first time to the NHRA Springnationals. NHRA Founder and Board Chairman Wally Parks stated “we had the feeling that we were 10 years overdue because of the tremendous fan base that was indicated by NHRA membership and National DRAGSTER circulation numbers from the area.“ Their suspicions proved correct when the race drew more than 40,000 spectators and 600 cars. On both Saturday and Sunday, the gates had to be closed while cars were still sitting on Route 40 waiting to get in to the event as the grounds were already full. National Trail Raceway was an instant success - unfortunately, one that the Clark Rader Sr. was unable to share with his sons due to his death just months before the event went off. That was a heartbreak to Clark Jr. because his father had worked so hard to bring the event to the facility.
After such a successful beginning, Clark and Ben built additional stands, more restrooms, and a larger pit area and added more asphalt to the strip. Their crowds had grown from 40,000 in 1972 to over 120,000 in 1995. Through all the years, Clark and Ben worked the track personally and kept it up and running through the 1995 season. In 1996, NHRA purchased the track from the Rader family and started a new era in the track’s history.
The NHRA Years
With the purchase of NTR by NHRA, the track began to have several improvements including the new VIP and operations tower, a completely repaved track surface, pit improvements and expansion, and other amenities. The Springnationals was renamed the
In the early part of 2001, the National Trail Raceway community lost a great patriotarc when Clark Rader Jr. past away. Even though he had sold the track, Clark was still visable at the track during racing events throughout the rest of his life. Though Clark has left us, we can rest assured he will be watching over his National Trail Raceway, as always.
Thank you, Clark, for all of your hard work and contributions to the sport of drag racing.
About National Trail Raceway
Track Surface: Concrete/Asphalt
Concrete Launchpad: 660 Feet
Track Direction: North to South
Elevation: 900 Feet
|National Hot Rod Association - http://www.nationaltrailraceway.com/|