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Drag racers share fond memories of Raceway Park

Scott Jacobs

OLD BRIDGE — Ever since he can remember, Mark Nagy tagged along with his older brother Rob and his father Bob on trips to Raceway Park for the annual Snap-on Tools Nights of Thrills and the National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) Summernationals.

“My dad would race his [Snap-on] truck and we would sneak and hang on to the back. … As a kid, it was the coolest, hanging onto the toolbox,” Nagy said, noting that the Snap-on trucks did not go fast. “It would take 46-56 seconds to get down the quarter mile.”

With the news of the Old Bridge track announcing that it will no longer be the host to any drag racing events as of Jan. 17, Nagy, of the Fords section of Woodbridge, said it is unfortunate because of the nostalgia for everyone in the drag racing community.

Nagy said his father was a longtime Snap-on franchisee, and in 2014, during the Toyota NHRA Summernationals, Cruz Pedregon, a two-time NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car Champion, dedicated his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry car in memory of the elder Nagy, who has since passed away.

Nagy said there were years he would head down to the track twice a week.

“It was just something to do and it was so much fun for people racing and for people watching,” he said. “I have so many awesome memories at the track with my family.”

Nagy said with the past memories he had with his family, he had one day hope to share the same with his young daughter.

“I wanted to share that with her,” he said.

Brian Ferrari and his son William, of Matawan, said they have great memories from racing at the track.

The family has a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle that they call “the mean green machine.”

“We have been racing at the Raceway Track since 1974,” Brian Ferrari said. “My father, Leon, had the car first, I had it, and now my son has the car.”

Brian Ferrari said they learned of the drag racing news on the internet.

“It’s horrible,” he said. “We live 10 minutes from the track. It’s sad this has happened.”

Brian said he has so many fond memories at the track with the 1966 Chevelle, including winning the Shakedown competition in 2013 and the 850 (speed) competition in 2001 and 2002.

“The Shakedown was the biggest championship on the East Coast, so winning in 2013 was a big deal,” he said.

Brian Ferrari said out of 80 cars, only 32 cars made it to the semifinals.

“Every year before that we had made it to the semifinals,” he said. “When we won the semifinals, I said, ‘We’re going to win’ and we did.”

William Ferrari said that the drag racing events at Raceway Park is where he spent his childhood.

“Two years ago, I got my racing license at the track,” he said. “A lot of people in the area are mad and upset about the news. There were always rumors every year, but it never happened. … It was a surprise. The track was easy for us; now we have to travel an hour away for races.”

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.

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