The transformation is almost complete at Quaker City Motorsports Park.
When Norm Fox bought the historic Salem, Ohio track in 2011, it was in dire need of tender, loving care. Six years later, he and the staff led by his son, A.J., have turned the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA)-sanctioned facility into a showplace for the racers in Northeast Ohio and surrounding states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
“When we bought the track, it was run down in spots,” said A.J. Fox, who serves as general manager. “You could hit a pothole in a dragster and bend the wheel. It got to the point where the whole place needed a fresh coat of everything. It has been a long road, a lot of money in the asphalt and concrete work alone. But, it’s starting to shape up. Once we get the staging lanes up to the water box, it will finally be done.”
There has been a laundry list of improvements which have included: repaving and concreting most of the facility, installing concrete walls the entire length of the track, and adding concrete on the starting line, the shutdown area, the return road and the pit area. The staging lanes were scheduled to be finished earlier this year, but wet weather in the spring delayed the project.
Still, the track, which opened as Quaker City Raceway in the 1950s, has earned a solid reputation as an excellent place to race. A.J. Fox said word of the improvements spread quickly and they’ve attracted drivers from around the country, from Florida to California, and even some from Canada.
Fox also touted the benefits of being an IHRA member track and mentioned how the sanctioning body’s partnership with Summit Racing Equipment has been important in helping create a racer-friendly environment.
“What we hear from our racers, the IHRA is more in tune with the entry-level and Sportsman racers,” he said. “With the bracket finals, the Summit SuperSeries and all these programs, it makes it where the average Joe can have a shot if he has the determination.”
It’s much like the determination Fox and his staff have shown in transforming the facility into a place which usually draws 70-100 cars for its Top and Modified classes. Some of the largest events of the season include the Nostalgia Classic at the end of May, the recently complete Summer Nationals and the Night of Fire in July.
But, the most popular event is the Great Pumpkin Race in October. The annual last race of the year attracts around 700 entries. With Fox and his staff providing the backdrop, the season-ending race becomes a true celebration for the racing families and friends.
“We have costume contests, trailer-decorating contests and trick-or-treating,” Fox said. “We spend a small fortune decorating the place, but it all ends up bringing out an insane amount of people. We have enough racers where we easily fill up our 100-acre pits. We go all out, but for what it means to us and the racers, it’s all worth it.”