For the last 16 years, an event name synonymous in drag racing has carried a flare and a chip on its shoulder throughout the years. For Tommy Franklin, owner of Virginia Motorsports Park and the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA), he has had the same style flare over the past few years. When the phone rang from Bill Bader, Jr. and the opportunity was there to obtain the world-renowned event brand known as the Shakedown, Franklin did not bat an eye and accepted the chance at having a piece of history at his Dinwiddie, Virginia-based Virginia Motorsports Park.
For the first 10 years in existence, the Shakedown was owned and promoted by David Hance and New York Motorsports while it was held at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. In that decade, Hance built the brand into the edgy, bring your best shot to the table style of motorsports showcase that it’s known for. The fall date and New Jersey atmospheric conditions always brought the chance of national and world records to the table for every class contested.
When the event left Englishtown, Bader saw the momentum that the brand had and immediately jumped at the opportunity to have this event at his facility, Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. For six years, the Bader family worked hard to have a successful event, but fought numerous years of bad weather that put them behind the eight ball before the ball ever began to roll. After yet another weather-stricken event in 2018, the Bader family decided that they were ready to hang it up for their time with the event. Enter Tommy Franklin and Virginia Motorsports Park.
Franklin, owner of the PDRA Racing series and fresh off his first season as owner of the highly regarded Virginia Motorsports Park, had a few very successful conversations with Bader that ended with the event rights and titles changing hands, effectively moving the event to VMP for the 2019 campaign and beyond.
“With Allen (Carpenter), Rick (Lindner) and Tyler (Crossnoe) on board at Virginia for the future, we have a lot of experience and motivation in the front office to build this event into a must-attend destination for all involved,” Franklin said. “Rick brings a host of experience to the table on the marketing and business organization side, while Tyler hosts his own event in the same racer market and will bring a world-class track surface to the table for whichever class is rolling through the tunnel. We are very excited to have this event on our calendar for September 19-21, 2019 and are thankful to the Hance and Bader families for their outpouring support and stamp of approval with the event going forward at our facility.”
“I’m excited to see what Tommy, Tyler, and the team at Virginia can do with Shakedown,” said Evan Bader of Summit Motorsports Park. “The event has always been near and dear to my heart and despite not being able to make it work at home, the event is in the best possible hands. Tommy and Tyler are tapped into that market and VMP will be an excellent facility and geographic location for the event. I’m excited to see the changes and hope to attend in 2019 to see the Shakedown first hand.”
Pro Modified will continue to be a headline class at the Shakedown Nationals XVII just as it has been since the inception, with $20,000 to the winner in a 16-car qualified field. The team plans to continue the original “small tire” category with Outlaw 10.5, pitting the 33×10.5” slick tire entries against the 315 drag radials, creating a rivalry like no other to decide which tire propels to victory. A unique twist on Radial vs. The World will bring some of the best in the country to Virginia Motorsports Park for the very first time, while Limited Drag Radial, X275 and Ultra Street racers will chase the ever-important championship points for their season-ending championships, not to mention run for a large sum of money across the board. Top Sportsman and Top Dragster will uphold the sportsman side of the event with a unique twist on both classes that will put big money up for grabs to a locked field of racers.
“I am extremely excited about being a small part of the rich history that is Shakedown,” said Crossnoe, the newly appointed track manager at Virginia. “I came up one round short of a victory in 2017 as a racer at Shakedown and the feel of this event is something special. Whether it was the brass knuckles and cigars that were given to the winner or the sheer rush of winning an event of this magnitude, this event has an aurora around it that is special. In 2019, instead of getting a shot at winning it, I’ll get a shot at producing it and with the help of Rick Lindner, Allen Carpenter, Tommy Franklin and the entire VMP team and the upcoming marketing partnerships, I think we have a great chance to create another staple event here in Virginia.”
While purses and preliminary details are still under construction, the date and location are set in stone and the team at Virginia Motorsports Park is excited about the addition of the 17th Annual Shakedown Nationals to the jam-packed 2019 schedule. Stay tuned to www.VirginiaMotorsports.com for more detailed information on the star-studded event, upcoming on September 19-21, 2019.