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Team Effort Helps Newport Raceway and IHRA Move Forward

Thursday, 30 November 2023

NEWPORT, Ark. — It has taken a team effort to revive Newport Raceway. Scott Cooper and his wife Belinda took over the Arkansas track which had shut down in 2019. Through their hard work, the track has undergone a huge renovation project. 

Now, they’ve extended their partnership with the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) through a multi-year sanctioning agreement. 

“My wife supports it and she’s 100 percent behind it,” Scott said. “She’s the one who pushes me through.” 

Formerly a 1/4-mile track in the 1950s, recent improvements have included new fencing and grading work. Before that, upgrades included a new timing tower, concessions, bleachers and concrete barriers. 

Friends and racers have pitched in, dedicating their time and resources for which Scott is truly thankful. 

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Cooper got back into drag racing through the Street Outlaws after he’d done quite a bit of dirt track racing. After traveling with the Street Outlaws, he turned his attention to his home track. 

A native of Newport, his relationships with those on the city commission helped as they had faith in him opening the track back up. It’s personal for him as he will never forget the time spent at the track with his dad. 

“You’ve got a lot of history at Newport with the old-time racers,” Scott said. “Many of those are still around, although you lose some of them as the years go by. When I went in front of the commission and the development board, everybody had a story about being at Newport Raceway.” 

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Through the concessions, it allowed Belinda of her dream of opening a restaurant and those at the track benefit from it. While she will do the traditional fare, she adds tasty options like Philly Cheesesteaks and some specialty items where her love for serving others comes out. 

On the track, the bracket racers have satisfied their appetite through the IHRA Summit SuperSeries, the most prestigious national championship in bracket racing. Newport Raceway drivers who earned entries to the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals included: Bobby Hooker (Box), Amanda Mitchell (No Box), Lonnie McGillvray (Sportsman), and Payton Mask (Jr. Dragster). 

“The IHRA Summit SuperSeries turned out well this year,” Scott said. “My divisional director, Cody Pollage, and (IHRA President) Mel (Roth) have been a lot of help. I’ve leaned on them a lot and they’ve given me very good advice.”  

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There were other popular events at the track including the No Prep, grudge-style races similar to Street Outlaws, a motorcycle stunt show and other bracket races like the final race of the season with Roland Roberts (Box), Deino Mckamie (No Box) and Carl Morrison (Sportsman).  

Cooper sees more good things ahead for Newport Raceway as they are currently working on the 2024 schedule. They plan on hosting an IHRA Ironman Classic and also have put an emphasis on working with the young racers who are the future of the sport. 

“We got into the Junior Dragster program working with the kids,” Cooper said. “That’s been a huge enjoyment for us.”  

Click here to check out the Newport Raceway Facebook page and keep up to date with the latest happenings at the track. 

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