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Bader hoping to dodge bullet while he’s dodging raindrops

Joe Centers • Jul 7, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Bill Bader Jr. looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks.

And if the truth be told, sack time has been at a minimum for Bader as he and his team prepared for the seventh annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.

As he peered out on the tack Friday afternoon, Bader was counting his blessings as cars barreled their way down the quarter-mile strip.

With a weather forecast that was filled with rain, Bader knows he is playing Russian Roulette with Mother Nature.

Thursday’s first day of sportsman racing was cut short by the rain. Friday got off to a slow start, but by mid-afternoon there actually were spots of blue skies with the big boys waiting in the wings.

Two rounds of professional qualifying were slated for Friday, with two more set for today at 11:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Eliminations are set for 11 a.m. Sunday.

The entire schedule, of course, depends on the weather.

“As far as the program (Thursday), they got the majority if it done,” Bader said. “I would have never guessed we would have gotten this far, to be honest.”

At that point, Bader got out his phone and looked at the radar.

“There is a little blip and then no rain until Cincinnati and that looks like it is going east,” he said. “There is no rain for awhile.”

No matter how much planning you do and how well you carry our your plans, Mother Nature holds the trump card.

“Thanks to the efforts of Mesenburg (Trucking) and some very good local construction companies, we put down 15 truck loads of gravel,” Bader said.

“Right now we are in stunningly good shape. We’ve been running two 10-ton rollers on the grounds for two weeks. The ground is solid and it is paying off for us now.

“The first place I went this morning was to the campgrounds and the parking lots. Right now, operationally, we are very happy,” Bader said.

The campgrounds were sold out this week and Bader said the overflow lots were half to three-quarters full.

“We knew when we took this week (Fourth of July weekend) it would become a destination event.

“We hope race fans look at Memorial Day with the Indy 500, the Summit Nationals on the Forth of July and the U.S. Nationals in Indy on Labor Day.”

Bader and his team met for two hours Thursday night preparing for the worst.

“We put together a plan for a 100-percent washout,” he said. “This is a miracle. I told our team, ‘there is a 100-percent call for rain the next 36 hours.’

“We met for two hours and I told them this would either be our Waterloo or our finest hour. I think this will be our finest hour.”

The solid camping base and pre-sale of tickets pay for the event. It’s the walk-up sale that can put an event over the top. And a good forecast helps sell tickets.

“I think the weather will keep us from setting an attendance record,” Bader said. “It could be better, but it could also be worse.

“I am just shocked we are racing now. I’m thrilled. I tell everybody expect the best but plan for the worst.

“We’ve had rain for 14 consecutive days. We knew we had challenges, but so far we’ve stayed one step ahead, thank God.”

Bader said the race will get in one way or another.

“They (the NHRA) will stay until they get it finished,” he said. “Tonight we will start planning for Saturday (and) then Saturday night we will plan for Sunday.”

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