The Arizona Nationals will continue for at least the next five years after a new management group signed an agreement to operate the facility, formerly known as Firebird International Raceway. The track’s new name will be Wild Horse Motorsports Park and the owners, Gila Bend Indian Community, have hired Copper Train Development Partners LLC to manage the property (source: Arizona Republic).
The NHRA and its Mello Yello Drag Racing Series have been working feverishly to keep the February race on schedule in the Valley of the Sun. There was concern when Charlie Allen’s 30-year operation of the track as Firebird was ended after the Sun Valley Marina Corporation (a Gila Bend Indian Community company) did not renew the lease. The 458 acre facility includes the drag strip, a lake for boat drags, a couple of road courses and an off-road track as well.
Firebird was all set to shutdown before this new deal was engineered with the NHRA pushing the hardest. Local drag racing was also feeling the bite, but the new arrangement will continue to offer regional racers a place to compete. Still, there’s a need for improvements with the drag strip, including restrooms, seating plus updating the scoring and timing systems. The track is currently closed but will reopen in September with drag racing returning in October. Next year will mark 30 years since the NHRA first started drag racing at the track with the 2014 Arizona Nationals continuing to be run at the end of February.
The new Copper Train management will be led by California businessman Paul Clayton with the racing handled by Dick Hahne who will be the operations president. Hahne was a longtime executive at Daytona International Speedway.
The facility, which opened in 1983, is popular with a variety of racers and often used for testing, especially in the winter months. It’s located on the outskirts of Chandler, Arizona, and sits just south of Phoenix, right off Interstate 10 and Loop 202 (Santan Freeway).
Additional source: NHRA