On the day of Summit Motorsports Park's most recent National event, long-time track owner Bill Bader Sr. passed away. Many members of the media and the fans in the grandstands were not made aware of the news until the following day.
Meanwhile, some of the insiders in the world of drag racing were mourning while competing at 'America's Track'. The event carried on.
Round after round of exhilarating racing took place in the wake of tragic news, and only a matter of days after the loss of motorsports philanthropist Bruton Smith passed in Charlotte. The sport was injured. As Robert Hight and Erica Enders successfully extended their winning trends, the Bader family dealt with the painful steps of losing their patriarch.
Mr. Bader's favourite event each year was arguably 'Night Under Fire', a semi-pro event for the regions greatest racers, and an exhibition for names such as John Force and Ron Capps. Bader and his son worked 44 consecutive Night Under Fire events prior to this passing.
The planning for the famed event continued through loss. Bader Jr. addressed the media and lead drivers Saturday morning and showed unusual energy not always expressed. He was somber and soft. He was sincere and simple.
"There has never been a Night Under Fire that I’ve anticipated in 45 years more than today. It isn’t for financial gain or money, it is because it is the first Night under Fire without my dad. We want you to all be a part of this special event. - Bill Bader Jr.
He reviewed every detail of the day with the folks responsible for ensuring his track's fans had an exceptional entertainment experience. The room was silent. NHRA legends, track officials, family, friends, they honoured Bader Jr. with their fullest of attention.
Bill Bader Sr. was highlighted by several of the racers through the day's event in various ways. Many included kind words of the late business owner in their interviews, while others offered stickers and messages on their cars.