NHRA Winter Nationals at Wildhorse Pass Sunday Phoenix AZ Saturday, Feb 27, 2022, Chandler , AZ.
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park previously held the Arizona Nationals. (Ivan Velduizen photo)

Arizona Nationals Return To Renamed Firebird Motorsports Park

PHOENIX — NHRA will return to Phoenix for next year’s NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season, heading to the newly-renamed Firebird Motorsports Park for the 39th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals on April 5-7 and continuing the great history of NHRA drag racing at the track.

Officials from the facility announced the new Firebird Motorsports Park name on Thursday at the PRI Show, which references back to the original Firebird Int’l Raceway from when the track opened 40 years ago and joins its past with its future.

After an outpouring of support from the racing community in the Phoenix area with a message of wanting to see NHRA championship drag racing remain at the longtime facility, the Gila River Indian Community was proactive in its efforts to make it happen, reimagining racing at Firebird Motorsports Park.

With considerable support from racers and fans also helping drag racing return to the historic venue, the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series is back in Phoenix for next year’s campaign as the third race of the upcoming season.

“Our fans have packed the stands in recent years and deserve to have nitro back in the desert,” Firebird Motorsports Park Track Manager Casey Buckman said. “We are beyond excited to continue our partnership with NHRA in 2024 to host the Arizona Nationals and keep these signature events alive at our facility for years to come.”

“It’s with tremendous excitement that we announce the NHRA’s return to Phoenix and Firebird Motorsports Park in 2024,” NHRA President Glen Cromwell said. “Our fans have packed that facility for nearly 40 years and it was truly incredible to see the fans’ outpouring of support to help continue racing at the historic track. We’re thrilled to work with the Gila River Indian Community, and all of our race teams, fans and partners look forward to a terrific event at Firebird Motorsports Park in 2024.”

NHRA’s longstanding “Duel in the Desert” will continue for a 39th time next season, as the must-see NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix have been home to several historic and record performances for nearly four decades.

The race became a Southwest fixture in 1985, quickly becoming a favorite for fans as well as drivers who are eager to pick up an early-season victory. In 2023, Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Camrie Caruso (Pro Stock) won in Phoenix, with Hight claiming his second straight win at the track and Caruso, the 2022 NHRA Rookie of the Year, posting her first career professional victory.

This season’s event also hosted the first-ever Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, a unique bonus event that started in 2023 and took place in front of a sellout crowd on Saturday. That will return next year, as fans will again get to enjoy competitive racing during qualifying on Saturday.

Sunday’s eliminations also delivered a sellout crowd in 2023, as Firebird Motorsports Park has annually attracted huge crowds.

Schumacher’s five victories in Phoenix leads all Top Fuel drivers, while Funny Car legend John Force has eight wins at the track. Top Fuel’s Antron Brown has three wins at the track, matching Hight, Ron Capps and Matt Hagan in the Funny Car ranks, while Greg Anderson and Erica Enders both have two wins to lead active Pro Stock competitors.