Night Under Fire a signature event at Summit Motorsports Park

Event takes place this weekend in Norwalk.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Aug 9, 2014


The Night Under Fire is full of rich tradition, from bone-rattling fuel funny cars to Bob Motz performing his famous fiery burnout show, concluding with a spectacular fire works show.

Showtime is 7 tonight at Summit Motorsports Park.

Back in the mid-to-late 1970s, Bill Bader Sr., was trying to figure out some way of drumming up interest in the fledgling Norwalk Raceway Park he bought in April of 1974.

After plenty of brainstorming, Bader and his family came up with the idea of putting on the inaugural Night Under Fire event in the summer of 1977.

"This is a concept my father started when he was trying to create some excitement in the market place for a drag strip that had been closed for a period of time," said Bill Bader Jr., who has been the president of Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park since 1998. "We used a format that was basically wheel standers, and jet (cars). We also started really focusing heavy on fireworks. We created the wall of fire and we created some spectacular effects that were housed inside the show. It started to grow, and it was a substantial event that was drawing 10s of thousands of people."

It's safe to say the event has become an overwhelming success.

"The Night Under Fire is really our signature event," Bader Jr. said. "It's the one that put us on the map long before our (NHRA) national event did. The Night Under Fire is really the event we hang our hat on and now it shares the spotlight with our NHRA national event."

Gates open for the Night Under Fire at 8 a.m. EDT Saturday and racing begins at 9 a.m. On Saturday night, pre-race starts at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. and fireworks begin about 9:30 p.m. (depending on the length of the show).

"I love the Bader family," John Force said. "They are the best promoters on the circuit. They are right up there with the Bill Doners and the (Jim) Rockstadts (who promoted West Coast tracks at Orange County, Calif., Irwindale, Calif., Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash.) of the old days. They are the best now. They still really promote. Bader was with me all over Cleveland doing media (before last June's national event) and, at the end of the day, I really wanted to win that race."

Force won the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals for the first time this year.

Bob Motz's jet semi truck, top fuel and funny cars and four jet dragsters also are on the card. Additionally, there will be 800 Sportsman cars which will run all night.

On the card are funny car drivers John Force, Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon and Dale Creasy Jr., along with top fuel drivers Brittany Force and Antron Brown.

Bader Jr., says the Night Under Fire became even more popular when legendary Force began competing at the event around 1995.

"Night Under Fire had taken some nice steps and we added John Force it took another step," Bader Jr. said. "Then, we added eight fuel Funny Cars and it took another step. Then, it took a huge step when we unveiled the $100,000 fireworks show. We unveiled that fireworks show in the early 2000s. We had our 40th anniversary celebration for the track in 2002, and that was a huge deal and the Night Under Fire event took another huge step that year and continued to grow."

Although the Night Under Fire had become a fixture, Bader Jr. felt the event might drop off some when Summit Motorsports Park began hosting a national NHRA event back in 2007. That also is the same year the track changed its name.

"We thought when we made the move to NHRA, mentally, dad and I said OK, the Night Under Fire is going to take a hit and we're mentally prepared to do that because clearly the NHRA national event would more than offset whatever we lost at the Night Under Fire. Quite the opposite has happened. As the (NHRA) national event has become more and more successful, the Night Under Fire has become more successful."

Here is this weekend's schedule:


Racer Credentials & Pit Parking (Linder's Lot), 7 a.m.

Spectator Gates Open, 8 a.m.

Spectator Camping and Motor Home Move-In 8 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Time Trials, 9 a.m.

Autograph Session (Bud Chalet), 3 p.m.

Pre-Race Ceremonies, 5:30 p.m.

Showtime, 7 p.m.


Sportsman Elimination, 8 a.m.

Schedule subject to change without notice



Reserved Seat Pricing

Adult -- Motz, $45

Adult -- Summit Club $50

Adult -- All other sections $40

Child 11 & Under -- Motz $ 20

Child 11 & Under -- Summit Club $ 25

Child 11 & Under -- All other sections, $ 15

John Force Winner's Circle, $199

Each ticket includes access into the pit areas and General Admission Parking is FREE!


yea right

Look at all that money. Bye bye all That money. Hahaha. So glad that ordeal is over. No more bickering over that worthless airport.


Yes, all this for an airport that generates no income for this city nor county. Talk about some ignorant moves, the county commissioners really screwed this one up

yea right



Whine, whine, whine. You two shouldn't discuss issues you have no clue and less information about. I'm happy SMP is having a good turnout for their Night Under Fire, but that doesn't negate the value of an airport to a community. The 2 can coexist and benefit from each other, but it won't include Bill usurping airport property.

yea right

FYI. Ole Bill is buying 800 ackers in Lorain co. FACT


If true, Lorain county can listen to the whining now! He's all yours with a cherry on top!!


Just like he was buying the Mansfield track. Not a very smart move on his part but probably the best if he really thinks he will be able to build his billy world

Brock Lee

hwo caers cant aford tikets


Plow the airport under and grow beans on the land. One year's crop will have more economic impact than the airport has had in all 40 years.


I'm sorry, there are three of you that are clueless and don't know what you are talking about

yea right

I'm sorry I guess that would be you. Let's meet in a month and I can laugh in your face. I know this info firsthand.


Lets plow Rt. 20 under and grow beans there. Or better yet all roads since they never made any "profit".
Where is their economic impact?
We have been over this before Roger and you still are willfully blind to serve your personal agenda.
The airport doesn't have a cash register sitting there totaling up the impact just as the track can not quantify it's impact on other businesses with any accuracy.

former local

Please! The farmer growing those beans would get more government subsidy than the airport costs the taxpayer!


I wonder if we'll see any pictures of the stands during this event like we did during the last ones?


The pictures you guys posted showing empty stands were probably not taken during the last event. I was actually there and would have noticed that. The national magazine photos from the NHRA event showed the stands full.

former local

Its a lobbying group for the industry, you expect them to publish pictures that make one of their events poorly attended? Get serious!


Did you even look at it? The pictures and video are from this July's NHRA event. Easy to verify and looks exactly like what I witnessed myself. Got to make one doubt the validity of anything those airport guys post.


I did and will say the attendance was better the the previous events based on the picture of the east side stands.
It was not a sellout though, you can still see a lot of empty seats in the west side stands in the videos.
Do not claim they were walking around when the videos are of the finals.
Still wonder why the paper didn't post any pics like they did last event?


I believe those photos that I saw were from this most recent "Night Under Fire" event. I was also there and I thought that there was a good turn out. While the stands were not filled wall to wall I think they did a good thing showing all the vehicles and people. Incidentally, I also like the idea of the airport adjacent to the raceway. I have been to Daytona, and Talladega where they have airports next to race tracks. Even with your bull I doubt very seriously that Bill Bader is going anyplace. Jr. has always had a history of stomping around to try and get what he wants.


Roads are actually used for moving people and every business's merchandise. Rt. 20 carries more merchandise in an hour than the airport does in its lifetime. No surprise that you don't see Rt.20's impact.


As I said you are willfully blind. The airport has an impact that you continue to deny. I see the impact of the roads on the economy and used my statement to show your thoughtlessness in the comment you started with.
The airport effects every company that uses it in any way and thus effects those that work for those companies and those that do business with them.


Not blind at all. You are just willfully lying. The only business that stepped up and said they used the airport was Sunrise that sells chemicals to the one cropduster.

Dr. Information

Comparing roads to an airport that I honestly, have not seen one plane take off or land on is a very dumb comparison. 99% of people use the roads and pay taxes to keep them healthy to go to work, the store, travel....etc. Guess what traveling on a road does? GENERATES MONEY.

This airport is a dump anyhow.


I've been on Rt. 20 at 5 PM and not seen another car or truck on the area I was on (just south of Norwalk)ahead of me or in the mirrors. Just because you do not see planes lined up at all times of the day or night doesn't mean nothing is going on.
You set yourself up as an authority on things but you failed here due to your bias.
The aviation community also pays taxes to maintain the airports and the local communities gain from the airports and only have to contribute a little for those gains. The commissioners have been denying the grants that distribute the tax money for the upkeep for years. What if they have been doing that for the maintenance of the roads and bridges? It is a viable comparison for the airport is part of the transportation infrastructure just as the roads are.


40 years ago I was all for the airport. Seemed like a great thing for the county. There was a brief spark of life when Tom Cochran envisioned an aerospace complex there. Then the good ol' boys killed that and him. Since then: nothing. Just a storage space for a few hobbyists.


And just this year we could of had two new businesses move in there but the commissioners screwed that up since it would have helped improve the airport.
Life flight and the service company for the choppers.


This article is about a successful event at SMP - period. Why do you jokers insist on injecting the airport controversy into any- and everything?

1) SMP contributes to the local and regional economy; 2) so does the airport; 3) using same yardstick to assess the impact of one vs. the other is unproductive and has really gotten old.

Bottom line: Regardless of whether you believe the airport and/or SMP has/have value or not, the airport property is federally encumbered and is simply not available for purchase and expansion. Everything else is moot.

People who insist on trying 5,000 different ways to move an immovable boulder up Mt. Everest obviously have a masochistic streak and not much of a life. Get over it.


Only losers look at an obstacle as immovable.


If you say so, Roger, since you are apparently all-knowing. To my mind, losers are those who don't think broadly enough (or think at all) to explore alternatives.


Thank you for repeating my point.