Richard Napp Sr., who along with his late brother, Vinnie, helped create the success story that is Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, passed away in the early hours of Dec. 27. Napp, 63, died just 14 months after brother Vinnie, of the same exact form of deadly cancer.
Since opening in July of 1965, Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, then known as Madison Township Raceway Park, has been one of drag racing's premier facilities. Conceived by Vincent and Louis Napoliello and Vincent's sons, Vincent Jr. and Richard, the facility introduced major-league drag racing to the New York metropolitan area.
Conceived by Vincent and Louis Napoliello and Vincent's sons, Vincent Jr. and Richard, the facility introduced major-league drag racing to the New York metropolitan area. After devoting many hours to the search for an ideal location and being met with negative response from numerous northern New Jersey communities, the Napoliello family turned their attention to the rapidly expanding central New Jersey area.
It wasn't long afterwards that the perfect location was discovered nestled in the scenic countryside of Madison Township, now known as Old Bridge Township. The progressive township governing body responded to the proposed race track in a very positive manner, welcoming the idea and its founders. The proposed site was on a 308-acre farm on Pension Road, which was purchased as soon as the plan was approved. Work began immediately thereafter on what was to become the super track of the East. Long days of moving earth to attain a level racing surface 60 feet wide and 4,150 feet long followed by constructing permanent grandstands, refreshment stands and permanent restrooms.
By late Spring of 1965 the immense project was nearing completion. Raceway Park was selected in 1968 by the NHRA as the site of the NHRA Springnationals. After a major revamping of the facility, which included shifting the pit area to the spectator side of the track and vise versa to accommodate the anticipated huge crowd. Once again, hard work paid off and the championship event was a huge success. The Napoliello family continued to reinvest in the property, improving and renovating the NHRA sanctioned track.
The track hosted the NHRA Springnationals for one season, in 1968, and in 1971 the NHRA awarded Raceway Park the NHRA Summernationals. Fan response the first year was tremendous with more than 85,000 people jamming the track for the record setting event. The rest is history as the Mopar Parts Summernationals continued to grow, as did Raceway Park. So much so that the Summernationals were moved to May to accommodate race fans with more pleasant spring weather. The event was also renamed the Matco Tools Spring SuperNationals.
Despite the untimely passing of Vincent in December 1969 and Louis in September 1983, the enthusiasm born in 1965 continued with each passing season as the brothers elevated the facility to legendary status.
Napp is survived by his children, Richard, Michael, James, Robert, and Laura, and four grandchildren.
Visitation was Sunday, Dec. 30, at the Holmdel Funeral Home in Holmdel, New Jersey.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hemotology Research Fund in honor of Richard Napoliello, Sr., mailed to: Dr. Alec Goldenberg, Attn: Gladys, 157 East 32nd Street, New York, NY 10016.
-nhra- -Len Ashburn-
Motorsport.com extends their sympathy to the Npaoliello family, the raceway and community, and the NHRA community.