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Arizona Auto Scene’s 2013 Year in Review

2013-AZ-Auto-Scene-Year-in-

Phoenix, ARIZ. (December 29, 2013) – What an amazing year for Arizona’s automobile hobbyist and motorsports community.  2013 brought about a lot of changes, especially for those in the motorsports community.  Arizona Auto Scene would like to take a moment to reflect on the 2013 season.

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Though they were officially held at the end of December, 2012, the Hangover Nationals would prove to be last race to be held at Speedworld Dragstrip. Running into troubles with Maricopa County, the Arizona State Land Department and unpaid debt, owner Dan Matthews was forced into closing the facility early in the year.  A February rally at the Arizona State Capitol was too little too late, as were letters to Governor Jan Brewer and other Valley politicians.  Speedworld’s closing had a profound effect on many of us.  The track will truly be missed by many.

January also brought about the collector car auctions, with Barrett-Jackson being the largest by far.  Though it may be the largest, Barrett-Jackson is not the only auto auction in town during the week.  Russo & Steele, Gooding & Co. and RM also had some rare and uniquel collector cars cross their auction blocks on 2013 their 2013 auctions.

With the impending closure of Firebird International Raceway, Team Firebird was doing double duty to get the NHRA Team Summit required number of races in.  Their 2013 race season actually began in 2012.  In true sportsman like fashion they pulled off.

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February brought the NHRA Arizona Nationals back to Firebird Raceway for the final time.  Track owner Charlie Allen could not reach a lease agreement with the Gila River Indian Community and the facility was slated to be closed at the end of March.

Prior to the race, Top Fuel Funny Car Driver John Force walked the track with Allen and many others.  This historical track walk would be the last for Charlie after 30 years of running the  track.

After an exciting weekend of racing, it was Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel Dragster, Ron Capps in Top Fuel Funny Car and Erica Enders in Pro Stock taking the top spots in their respective classes.

March brought about the NHRA Division 7 Double Header, two full events held over four solid days of drag racing.  NASCAR would be heading into Phoenix International Raceway, the Goodguy’s Rod & Custom Association’s car Show to Westworld, and the very last event/race at Firebird International Raceway.

History was made in NASCAR as the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series rolled into town for the Friday night race.  26 drivers from Mexico ran under the lights for the fans at Phoenix International Raceway.   Abraham Calderon would take the checkered flag.  That same weekend Carl Edwards went on to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Subway Fresh Fit 500 while Kyle Bush won the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dollar General 200.

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The end of March brought about the official end of Firebird International Raceway.  The final Team Firebird NHRA Summit ET bracket race, the final Arizona Grudge Racing Association’s race, and its last Monster Truck event would all run in one day during the NAPA Auto Parts Firebird Final Event Spectacular.  Both Team Firebird King of the Track finalists and those from the Arizona Grudge Racing Association ran their final rounds in front of packed stands as they opened for the Monster Trucks, Jet Dragsters and nitro burning Funny Cars.

Stadium Super Truck owner and driver Robby Gordon was on hand promoting his new SST series of stadium truck racing.  Borrowing a motorcycle helmet from a fan, Gordon hit the track, and the jumps in one of his display SST trucks and literally stole the show from the high horsepower monster trucks.  Gordon would run the inaugural SST race at the stadium in Glendale in early April.  Unfortunately, Arizona is not on the SST tour schedule for 2014.

The closing of Firebird Raceway brought about the birth of Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park as Paul Clayton and Copper Train Development secured a 5 year lease agreement with the Gila River Indian Community to manage the property.  Copper Train Development brought in former Daytona Motor Speedway VP Dick Hahne to run the facility.  Though the dragstrip portion of the multi-use motorsports facility has been closed due to the lack of a timing and scoring system and planned upgrades to the track surface, local road racing organizations have continued to race at the track.  With nowhere close to the valley to dace, many of Phoenix’s drag racers began racing at Southwest International Raceway in Tucson and The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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Along with many other great shows and cruises held in April, the Mesa Super Show filled the grounds on the Mesa Convention Center with highly detailed and modified lowriders.  The attention to detail that goes into many of the cars on display is absolutely amazing.  The paint, engravings and craftsmanship is spectacular.  The show also features a car hop that draws in the crowds to see who can hop their car the highest.

The very first Cave Creek Auto Auction was also held in April.  The auction, held at StagecoachVillage, drew in quite a few cars and  is expected to be held annually from here on out.

With the temperatures rising in the Valley as we rolled into May, the high country became the place to be.  Auto enthusiasts from across the world made their way to Kingman to participate in the Route 66 Fun Run.  Lowrider fans braved the heat and flocked to Guadalupe for the Guadalupe Lowrider Show.  Thousands made their way to Central Phoenix to either take in, or participate in the Cruise on Central.

For the second year in a row, Southwest International Raceway was the home for the Old Tucson Dragway Reunion.  A car show, an old fashioned cackle fest, historic race cars on the track and the Western Fueled Altereds were just park of the fun and excitement.  Beginning as a one time event in 2012, its success has brought it back, making it one event you don’t want to miss in 2014.

ProAutoSports lost one of their racing family members when Chad Nelson passed away in an aviation accident.  He'll be missed by all.

ProAutoSports lost one of their racing family members when Chad Nelson passed away in an aviation accident. He’ll be missed by all.

With the Summer months continuing to heat up, shows and events sloped off a little in June.  The Penske Racing Museum started a new Cars & Coffee in their lot on North Scottsdale Road.  The early AM cruise-in attracted a diverse combination of cars.  Mesa held their annual Celebration of Freedom, a downtown street fair combined with a car show and fireworks display.

July saw the ASA sanctioned racing organization ProAutoSports holding their early morning Track Addicts event.  A track day affording those who are in desperation of fulfilling their need for speed to take the opportunity to hit the track and take the edge off.  Quite a few cars from their broad range of racing classes made it out to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park to take advantage of the track time.

The Art of Noize car show put some slammed trucks and custom cars onto the fields at Victory Lanes Sports Park.

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The high country was the place to be in August for the Watson Lake Car Show.  Held on the grass in the cool pines of Prescott, this show is a must see.  Unfortunately, the Apache County Motorsports Days had a reduced showing due to inclement weather the weekend the event was scheduled for.

Also in July, Formula Drift driver/Bondurant driving instructor Corey Hosford and KSport USA took advantage of some down time at the school to hold a drifting exhibition on Bondurant’s road course.  An import and tuner car show accompanied the demo, filling the skid pad out in front of the high performance driving school.

September brought about Flagstaff’s Route 66 Days,  filling the streets of  historic downtown Flagstaff with classic automobiles.  Despite intermittent rain, the streets and parking lots throughout downtown were full of both cars and spectators.  The 5th Annual Boys & Girls Club of Bisbee’s benefit car & bike show was also held in southeasters Arizona.

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With the cooler weather setting in we saw Arizona’s motorsports scene begin to fire up.  Working its way back into the scene, Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park had both ProAutoSports running it final race on MONDO, a combination of Wild Horse Pass’ Main Track and Bondurant’s road course.  Wild Horse Pass was also home to the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series Fall Classic.  Nitro and alcohol powered boats were on the lake making high speed runs throughout the weekend.   The drag boats would soon return in huge numbers in November for the World Finals.

The Seats for Soldiers Car Show was held at the Chase Field in Downtown Phoenix.

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Arizona Deuce Day, the Western Fuel Altereds, Bob Bondurant’s 80th birthday celebration and arm drop drag racing at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park were just a small portion of October.

Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park held a no time, arm dropping start race, giving those in our drag racing community the chance to make some final passes down the drag strip before its anticipated resurfacing.

Bob Bondurant hit the track in his Shelby Cobra.  He was  joined bysome vintage race cars with racing pedigree from days gone by for some hard hitting laps around Wild Horse Pass’ Main Track.

ARIZA, a local lowrider car club, and several other clubs gathered at Tempe’s Daily park for their annual Horseshoe Tournament and BBQ.  Those who showed made their way to the park in some stunning, show winning rides.

Though the weather was cooling off, things began heating up in November with the return of the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series, NASCAR, the Goodguy’s Car Show and much more.

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November’s return of the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series for the World Finals put fire on the lake.  With huge explosions and a devastating Top Fuel Hydro crash, the weekend was full of excitement.  Running a brand new Top Fuel Hydro boat, Problem Child driver Daryl “Madd Maxx” Ehrlich destroyed it in seconds on just its second qualifying pass.   The boat took a hard right and rolled several times after the W drive broke.  Daryl’s crew put his old Problem Child hull back together and got him back on the water.  He went on to win the race by the end of the weekend.

In the NASCAR Sprint Cup arena, Jimmie Johnson may have been the number 1 qualifier for the Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, but it was Kevin Harvick who took the checkered flag after Carl Edwards ran out of gas in the last laps.  In the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Kyle Bush not only won the pole, but he also went on to win the race.  Erik Jones set records after winning NASCAR’s Camping World Series Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 race on Friday night.

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December brought about many charitable car shows.  Some to feed those in need during the Holiday season while others collected toys for less than fortunate kids in need.  It also brought about the long awaited news that the resurfacing of the dragstrip at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park was going to be a reality.

One of the largest shows held in December was Severed in the Southwest.  Drawing in hundreds of slammed trucks and customized tuners, this show fills a large portion of Metro Center Mall’s parking lot year after year.  The bagged big rig to the right was by far the largest entry in 2013’s show.

Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park announced that a large portion of the dragstrip was actually being torn up.  We received a call from Copper Train Development’s Paul Clayton and could hear the demolition taking place in the background.  The new concrete should be poured by at the beginning of the year.  The track will be ready in time for the 2014 CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in February.

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Throughout 2013, Arizona Auto Scene has published the CRUIZ’N @ PHIL’s weekly newsletter.  This opportunity is not exclusive to this weekly cruise-in.  We do it for FREE and are offering it to any Arizona cruiser, auto enthusiast or motorsports enthusiast.

Since launching we have had to upgrade our servers each January.  In 2013 we had to upgrade the servers in August.  We’re now on a dedicated server, looking to provide news on Arizona’s Auto Scene throughout 2014.  As we are always striving to deliver you a better product, we welcome any recommendations our viewers may have.  

Arizona Auto Scene wants to thank our readers for contributing to our continued success.  In 2013, Arizona Auto Scene enjoyed over 180,000 unique visitors who viewed in excess of 7,527,826 pages on our site.

Arizona Auto Scene would also like to give a shout out to our 2013 sponsors: Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, AIRAID, Arizona Race Company, AZ Differential Specialists, Rolling Canvas Customs, Cave Creek Classic Car Auction, Moonshine Car Care Products and Classics in the USA Insurance.  We look forward to your continued support.

Happy New Year to all of our friends, fans and followers.

We wish you all the best in 2014!

1 Comment

  1. Eugene Sharron says:

    would like to know if I can buy early issues

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