After the pulling out of some major races due to the quality of the dragstrip surface, Great Bend’s Sunflower Rod and Custom Association announced Friday afternoon that it is canceling its 2023 racing season at its historic dragstrip.
“The decision is bittersweet,” reads a post on the SRCA Facebook page. “After thorough analysis and discussions, it was determined that the maintenance and operating expense of the current drag strips’ surface for continued safe high-speed racing would be very expensive for the 2023 race season, only to be torn out with the anticipated concrete replacement.”
SRCA will contact all pit stall holders, gold card recipients, sponsorship advertisers, and other entities that have already prepaid for the 2023 season by email or phone to determine if their desire would be to roll over to the next season or receive a refund.
“Great Bend, the owner of the track, has hired a consultant and engineer who are investigating the recently constructed track surface and will be furnishing a report,” the post reads. “The final report has not been received but the preliminary indication is that the track will require substantial remedial work which might include a replacement of the racing surface.”
The SRCA is a volunteer organization that manages, maintains and runs the strip at the Great Bend Expo Complex west of town. It is owned by the city and underwent a $1.6 million renovation completed in the summer of 2021. That project was fraught with flaws and led to some hard feelings between the city and SRCA.
The Great Bend Tribune reached out to Interim City Administrator Logan Burns for comment, but was unable to contact him by deadline Friday evening.
An unsettling trend
SRCA’s action Friday follows the Midwest Drag Racing Series Midwest Nationals event planned for June 16-18 at the dragstrip being canceled by the Tulsa, Okla.-based Midwest Drag Racing Series organization early last week.
That marked the second racing event to leave the Great Bend track in just over a month. In mid-March, the National Hot Rod Association and SRCA made the decision to cancel the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Regional Event scheduled for the facility May 4-6.
NHRA will move this divisional race to Bandimere Speedway in Denver, making that event on June 15-17 a double event.
The Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car portion of the SRCA event will not take place in 2023 either. Those two classes will still compete at Bandimere Speedway as part of the originally scheduled event in Denver.