Click your ruby slippers: NHRA will return to Kansas in 2016

(Image courtesy Heartland Park Topeka)
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When the NHRA released its 2016 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season schedule in September, the sanctioning body could have borrowed a line from the Wizard of Oz: “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

The NHRA was prepared to drop the annual visit to Heartland Park Topeka and go forward with a 23-race schedule – one short of the 24-race slate from 2015 – due to lingering issues with track ownership and Topeka city officials

That all changed, however, on Friday afternoon as NHRA announced it will indeed return to the state’s capital and HPT in 2016 after all, with the 28th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals to be held May 20-22.

In addition, NHRA announced that the event – which will be the eighth race on the 2016 schedule – will be televised live on Fox Sports 1.

A new ownership group, Heartland Park Topeka LLC, led by Chris Payne and Todd Crossley, has apparently met and satisfied the concerns of both Topeka and NHRA officials that a successful event can take place.

“Heartland Park Topeka has such a great history with NHRA as the site of many performance milestones and record-setting achievements,” NHRA president Peter Clifford said in a media release. “We are looking forward to continuing that legacy with today’s announcement.

“The fans in the Topeka and Kansas City area are some of the most passionate in the country and we are excited for them to be able to continue to enjoy the NHRA Mello Yello Series.”

There’s also good news for the hundreds of NHRA Sportsman racers in and around the Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma region, as the track will continue be one of the premier venues for their style of drag racing.

Among Sportsman events on the 2016 calendar at HPT are back-to-back divisional events in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series in late July, as well as hosting events for the NHRA Summit Racing Series, NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League, NHRA Jr. Street and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA.

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