36 Just about a year ago, the future of drag racing in west Texas was in jeopardy. An electrical fire destroyed the tower and everything in it including the timing equipment, but the tower has been rebuilt. Penwell Knights Dragway at Caprock Motorplex in Penwell, Texas is back in business, and the track has entered into a multi-year sanctioning agreement with the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA). The quarter-mile track, which has hosted IHRA Division team finals competitions, was an IHRA track for many years but was last sanctioned by the IHRA in 2015. A gigantic electrical malfunction in May of 2016 caused an explosion so massive that the tower’s timing and scoring equipment was blasted out of the tower and onto the race track before the tower burned to the ground. Despite having no tower, no lights and no tree, the track hosted two “no-prep races” in 2016 and raised enough money to purchase new timing and scoring equipment. Later, tower construction began, and today, the track boasts a beautiful new tower that sits above three hospitality suites at the starting line. Originally established as Penwell Raceway in 1966, Caprock Motorplex was established in 2012. Penwell Knights Dragway is now the premier state-of-the-art dragstrip in West Texas. The 2017 racing season opened March 4 and runs through Nov. 18 with competition including both heads-up racing and bracket racing. “The reason we chose to go with IHRA is because we are in a whole new world now, and we needed the IHRA structure,” track co-owner Barbara Hughes said. “After our tower burned down, we started over. Now our new tower and suites along with all our new equipment make our track pretty much state-of-the- art. We wanted to be with the big boys rather than just be an outlaw track. I liked the structure and the THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS: DRAGWAY SPOTLIGHT WEST TEXAS TRACK REBUILDS TOWER, JOINS IHRA NETWORK by Rob Goodman