By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The National Hot Rod Association comes to Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey once a year.
But while the world’s largest racing sanctioning body comes to New Jersey, rumors have been swirling for years, according to drivers, that the famous track could be turned into a strip mall. Vincent Nobile, an NHRA Pro Stock driver, doesn’t want the track to be turned into a strip mall.
“Don’t make it a strip mall,” said Nobile. “I love racing here, as it is my home track, and I’m sure everyone else in the NHRA loves racing here, too. If this becomes a strip mall, then I will have to find a new home track.”
Nobile, who is from Long Island, New York, only has Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania as the closest track to his home.
Englishtown, New Jersey is nearly 40 minutes from his home. While Maple Grove Raceway is 2 hours and 4 minutes away.
“It means a lot, because a lot of my family comes out to Englishtown and to Maple Grove to show their support,” said Nobile. “Not typically does my whole family come out here to the track. Having my whole family out here is really cool, and it is the only time of the year that they get to come out to the track.”
Nobile’s family is not the only family that lives close to Englishtown and Reading on the circuit. Antron Brown, a Top Fuel driver for Don Schumacher Racing, is from Chesterfield, New Jersey, while Eddie Krawiec, a Vance and Hines Pro Stock Motorcycle driver, is from Englishtown, NJ.
Plus, there are tons of NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman Series drivers that live close to both tracks and count on both tracks to live their dreams of being a professional drag racer.
While Nobile has had family members and friends at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park and Maple Grove Raceway, he has not won a race at these tracks. Plus, he has only been to one final round in the three-years on the circuit at both tracks.
In 2011, Nobile went to the final round, before losing to Allen Johnson, who won the Wally. Johnson went 6.689 to Nobile’s foul, as he red-lighted in an attempt to get an edge on Johnson on the tree.
Nobile beat Ronnie Humphrey, Jason Line, and Mike Edwards to advance to the finals.
“It meant a lot,” said Nobile of his final round appearance. “I don’t know how many more years we’ll be in Englishtown. From what I hear, they talk about shutting this place down. I hear it all the time. I hear that they’re going to knock this place down and put a strip mall here. I don’t see it happening, and that rumor honestly scares me, because I want to win here. It would be extra special, because my whole family would be here.”
Since his final round appearance in 2011, he has not been able to get out of the semifinals. In 2012, he beat Shane Gray, then lost to Erica Enders.
This summer at Old Bridge Township Raceway, Nobile beat Lewis Worden, and Gray, before losing to Johnson in the semifinals.
At Maple Grove Raceway, he has not advanced past the first round. In 2011, he lost to Humphrey, going 7.239 to Humphrey’s 6.532. Last year, he lost to Johnson, as Johnson went 6.526 to Nobile’s 6.547.
“The first year that I raced there [Old Bridge Township Raceway Park and Maple Grove Raceway], it did put more pressure on me,” said Nobile. “I was super nervous in my first year, and with all my family here, it put more pressure on me. I wanted to do well, and I was afraid of making a mistake.”
Nobile only has one more chance to race in front of his family at his home track this season. In two weeks, the NHRA returns to Maple Grove Raceway, before finishing the season in Las Vegas and Pomona.
While Nobile is a popular driver on the NHRA circuit, he said he is not a famous driver at Adelphi University, where he is a senior. He has classes on Tuesday and Thursday to work around his racing schedule.
“Really, back home on Long Island, not many people know about drag racing,” said Nobile. “There are no tracks there, so they would have to come to Englishtown to experience it. There used to track there, but with all the regulations today with the NHRA home tracks, they can’t have tracks there.”
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