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.

 

 Clark Rader Sr. (back right) watches as the ribbon is cut to open NTR in 1964.

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.

 

 Clark Rader Jr.

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.

 
 
 
The Springnationals continued to prosper and grow through the watch of the Rader family. National Trail Raceway was the first track that Shirley Muldowney won a national event at (1976) and held the first all female professional final round in NHRA history (Muldowney def. Lucille Lee in 1982) NTR was the site of the emotional win of Frank Hawley at the wheel of Darrel Gwynn’s Top Fuel dragster in their first event after Gwynn’s terrible accident in England during the 1990 season. NTR also was the host of the NHRA Sportsman Allstars event on Saturday during the national event. All of the big names in NHRA like Garlits, Beck, Kalitta, Amato, Prudhomme, Bernstein, Beetle, Force, Glidden, Jenkins, Nicholson, Shepherd, and Johnson graced the winner circle under the Rader watch. While suprisies like Chip Woodall, Bob Pickett, Richie Zul, and Craig Eppley also won. For the fans of Central Ohio, their was plenty of excietment for everyone.

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
 

 Tony Schumacher rockets to 4.486 336.15 win in 2005 final round

Pontiac Excietement Nationals and then to the Pontiac Performance Nationals. One of the biggest highlights to come at NTR happened in 2005 when first the national event was changed from mid June to mid May. Then at the event, Tony Schumacher set the NHRA National Speed record at 336.15 mph. The action continues throughout each and every summer here at National Trail Raceway.  Home to many of the greatest touring series in the nation including NMRA, Import FaceOff, Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the Super Chevy Show, and the Mopar Nationals, National Trail Raceway will continue to advance and strive to become the greatest racing facility in the Midwest.

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
 

Opened: 1964

Track Surface: Concrete/Asphalt

Concrete Launchpad: 660 Feet

Track Direction: North to South

Elevation: 900 Feet

 


 

Track Records

 Top Fuel:  Record   Name   Year 
 ET:  4.476  Tony Schumacher  2006
 MPH:  336.15*  Tony Schumacher  2005
       
 Funny Car:      
 ET:   4.715  Robert Hight   2006
 MPH:  329.58  Gary Scelzi  2006
       
 Pro Stock:      
 ET:   6.677  Jim Yates   2006
 MPH:   206.64  Jason Line  2006
       
 P/S Bike:      
 ET:  7.025  Chip Ellis  2006
 MPH:  194.52  Andrew Hines  2005
       
 T/A Dragster:      
 ET:  5.268  Dave Hirata  2014
 MPH:  273.05  Bill Reichert  2006
       
 T/A Funny Car:      
 ET:  5.622  Frank Manzo  2003
 MPH:  257.04  Frank Manzo  2003
       
 Pro Modified:      
 ET:  6.111  Harold Martin  2010
 MPH:  232.25  Andrew Parise  2010
       
 Top Dragster:      
 ET:  6.014  Troy Stone  2012
 MPH:  239.74  Bryan Keller  2014
       
 Top Sportsman:      
 ET:  6.451  Eric Burnett  2012
 MPH:  219.40  Eric Burnett  2012
       
 Top Fuel Harley:      
 ET:  6.273  Tommy Grimes  2014
 MPH:  232.47  Tommy Grimes  2014
       
 Pro Fuel Harley:      
 ET:  6.931  Gary Stroud  2014
 MPH:  172.96  Johnny Vickers  2014
       
 Pro Gas Harley:      
 ET:  7.207  Marc Inguersen  2014
 MPH:  184.55  Marc Inguersen  2014
       
     * NHRA National Record (1/4 mile)  

 


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