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Summit Racing Equipment Raceway Park. (SRERP Photo)

Drag Racing’s Bill Bader Sr., 79

Bill Bader Sr., known for growing Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park into one of the country’s most successful drag strips died on Sunday. He was 79.

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Ironically, Bader’s son, Bill Bader Jr., confirmed his dad’s death only hours after the conclusion of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at the Norwalk, Ohio track.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that this afternoon, my dad was involved in an accident on the mountain he so deeply loved and passed away. I will share more information as it becomes available. Know that my father loved you.”

The elder Bader bought Norwalk Dragway in 1973 and converted it into a state-of-the-art drag racing facility.

Events he created at the track include Night of Fire and the Halloween Classic. Norwalk also hosted the IHRA’s World Nationals for a long period of time.

Bader put his son in charge of the track in 1998 and he took on the role of president of the IHRA . He retired in the early 2000s and moved to Idaho.

“We are deeply saddened over the tragic loss of Bill Bader Sr., who built an extraordinary legacy in the sport,” said NHRA President Glen Cromwell in a statement. “With an incredible work ethic and a remarkable dedication to hospitality, Bill taught us all important lessons on how to make a race a memorable experience for drag racing fans. He turned Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park into one of the premier facilities on the NHRA tour, and one that was loved by all racers and NHRA fans. On behalf of everyone at NHRA, we offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Bill Bader Sr.”