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Opener draws record crowd

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 28, 2015 at 3:53 PM

When Bill Bader and the gang throw a party, they cover all the bases.

For the children, there was the always-popular wheel-standing Cool Bus. For the adults, there was the side-by-side race pitting two Maple City Ice semi-trucks Budweiser vs. Bud Light.

You don't think that got the fans fired up?

And for the record, Budweiser was king of beers on this night.

Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, formerly known as Norwalk Raceway Park, kicked off the 2007 season Saturday with the Ohio Lottery/Norwalk Reflector Season Opener presented Donald Graham & Associates.

The Reflector supplied free tickets for the event.

Joyce Leszeski cut the ribbon to officially open the new complex. She was joined by other surviving family members of the first pair of race car drivers to ever run down the racetrack back in 1963 at what was then called Norwalk Dragway.

Back then, Jim Edwards, Sr. and Neil Archambeau, both childhood friends, were the first two drivers to ever race in side-by-side eliminations. Edward's son, Jim Edwards, Jr., and Archambeau's son, Mark, keep the tradition of racing alive, and both are still drag racing.

As part of the special opening ceremony, both sons raced side-by-side in the first official competition with Edwards winning in his '56 Chevy.

Another highlight of the opening ceremonies was the presentation of a Huron County Lifetime Achievement Award to Clark Hunter. The award, according to Bill Bader Jr., will become an annual event at the track.

"I was very happy with Saturday night," Bader said. "I haven't checked it out, but my gut feeling is that was the best season opener we have ever had. I know we took in thousands of coupons ... it was easily the largest redemption we have ever had. We will get an official count sometime this afternoon.

"The weather was perfect. The good Lord smiled on us ... I don't know how you could have made it any better."

Next on the schedule at the track is the Calvacade of Stars national sportsman event May 18, 19 and 20.

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