Beloved Norwalk Racecourse owner and operator Bill Bader Sr. has passed away
Bill Bader Sr., who took an unusable Ohio dragstrip named Norwalk Dragway and transformed it over more than 40 years into a fan-favorite facility, died June 26, shortly after the end of the annual NHRA Camping World Series track event, the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment National Championships. He was 79 years old and succumbed to injuries sustained in an accident near his home.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Bill Bader Sr., who has built an extraordinary legacy in the sport,” said NHRA President Glen Cromwell. “With an incredible work ethic and remarkable dedication to hospitality, Bill taught us all the important lessons on how to make a race a memorable experience for drag racing fans. He transformed Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park into one of the premier facilities for the NHRA Tour., and one that has been loved by all NHRA racers and fans. On behalf of everyone at the NHRA, we offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Bill Bader Sr.”
Summit Motorsports Park, “America’s Race Track”, was a place where racing enthusiasts and racers were welcomed like family, where you could get a pound of ice cream for just $1, where fireworks worthy of a stadium ended each day of a major event, and where championship drag races of the highest caliber were contested.
Bader purchased the track in 1974 and slowly began a long, well-orchestrated series of improvements that covered everything from the running surface and parking lot to the grandstands and even the children’s play area.
The track has long hosted other flagship events, such as Halloween Classic and Night Under Fire, and has long been the crown jewel of the IHRA racing series. Bader managed the track until 1998, when he handed over control to his son Bill Jr., and briefly assumed the chairmanship of IHRA.
The Baders joined the track legion of NHRA members and the national event calendar with the first edition of its NHRA event in 2007 and have hosted the popular event every year since, with the exception of the shortened 2020 season. the pandemic.
Universally beloved by loyal fans and riders of all classes, Bill Bader Sr. left behind a legacy of showmanship and hospitality that may never be matched.