Firebird Raceway closing down; drag racing possible in 2014

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Firebird International Raceway has officially announced that this season will be its last.

After 30 years of hosting an array of auto enthusiast events like the NHRA Arizona Nationals, the Mello Yello Drag Racing, the Checkered Flag Run and Monster Truck Shows, racetrack officials say they will not extend or renew the track's property lease with the Gila River Indian Reservation.

With this season being its last, the president and owner of Firebird Raceway, Charlie Allen, says they have planned an exciting last season with events like the return of the Lucas Oil Division 7 Double Header, where they expect over 400 cars to participate, NHRA Arizona Nationals, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, and the NAPA Auto Parts Firebird Final Event Spectacular.

The final event will include the appearance of the popular 60-foot high mechanical dinosaur, Robosaurus.

When asked if Firebird Raceway plans to build another track elsewhere, Allen says they are not planning on it and he does not know what will happen with the property they are now on.

"It's been one heck or a ride," he said.

The racetrack opened its doors to auto racing enthusiasts in 1982.

Allen says their main focus from here on out is to deliver an outstanding final season for fans.

The last event of the season will take place in April.

While the Firebird Raceway owner is bowing out, the NHRA is hoping to keep the track as its Valley home beyond this year.

“NHRA is currently working with the Gila River Indian Community to continue to deliver the excitement of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing to our passionate fans in Phoenix and the state of Arizona beyond 2013,” said Tom Compton, president, NHRA. “Based on our discussions with the Gila River Indian Community, we are very optimistic that the venue will be on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule in 2014.

“We have had a very successful partnership with Charlie Allen and his team during their 28 years as lease holders of the facility and look forward with much anticipation for the 29th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, February 22-24, 2013.”