Under new management and a new name the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is open for business and getting ready to host its first national event.

More than half a million dollars worth of improvements has gone into the track so far and there’s more to come. The new management team says they’ve got a vision for what the facility can be and they’re excited to bring it to life. Since April of 2013 the track has received a new PA system, a new drag strip, new seating for spectators, and soon there will be a new scoreboard.

The improvements haven’t gone unnoticed. When Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park opened for Friday night drag racing this month they broke a record with nearly 500 cars in attendance and 1,500 spectators.

“With Speedworld closing last year we became the only drag strip in the Phoenix-metro area,” said Paul Clayton, managing partner for Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. “With both tracks closing, which was the rumor last year, a lot of people were extremely relieved that we were able to put this team together.”

Gila River Indian Community’s Sun Valley Marina Corp. has hired Coppertrain Development to oversee the motorsports park. The team includes Dick Hahne, former Daytona Motor Speedway vice president, as track president and Bill Schneider, who has owned and operated drag strips in the Midwest in a management position.

“I have a little bit of experience in drag racing — about 50 years,” Schneider said. “I was fortunate enough to be drug out of retirement and help create what I think is going to be the premier track in the country. We’ve been given a wonderful opportunity… We’ve spared no effort and no cost to make this the best track we could possibly make it. We’re doing well.”

Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park will receive national attention Feb. 21-23 when it hosts the National Hot Rod Association Nationals (NHRA). Racers were invited out to test the new track during a press conference on Feb. 4.

“Our team is ready to go and what an exciting time to come out to the beginning of a new track on the Gila River Indian Reservation,” said Allen Johnson, former Pro Stock world champion. “It’s exciting to watch what they’re doing with the track. We’ve always wanted this track to come to a different level and I think it’s going to do that and has already made a lot of progress. I can’t wait to get here in a couple weeks and compete for the title.”

The NHRA event is unique in that all spectators have access to the locker room and the pit to meet the drivers. The event also showcases several different types of cars.

The track was formerly known as Firebird Raceway and is located at 20,000 S. Maricopa Road in Chandler. For more information on the track or to purchase tickets to the NHRA event, visit www.racewildhorse.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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