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The “Gari and Gary Show” at Dragway 42 Helm

Thursday, 21 September 2017

When International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) teams arrive at Dragway 42 later this week for the final weekend of the IHRA Summit Sportsman National Championship, they won’t find one general manager; they’ll be greeted by co-general managers. Gary Harper joined the Dragway 42 team in August after working at several United States facilities as well as Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  The “other” general manager is Harper’s wife, Gari.

“My wife’s name is pronounced, ‘Gary,’ so we’re the ‘Gari and Gary show,’” Gary Harper said.  “She handles customer service, all the logistics, the track Facebook page and helps with the website, and I handle the operations.”

Founded more than six decades ago, Dragway 42 is preparing for perhaps the biggest weekend of its post-renovation history when it hosts the final weekend of the 2017 IHRA Summit Sportsman National Championship Sept. 22-24.  This IHRA member track is a multi-purpose racing facility that hosts IHRA Drag Racing, Autocross Racing, tractor and truck pull events as well as concerts, music festivals and many other specialty events. 

Located in West Salem, Ohio about an hour southwest of Cleveland and 45 minutes west of Akron, Dragway 42 reopened earlier this year following an extensive renovation featuring:  

  • Full quarter-mile racing surface starting with 750 feet of concrete before transitioning to asphalt.  Each lane is 30 feet wide with a total track width of 60 feet. 
  • The drag strip boasts 4,200 feet of total racing surface including 3,800 feet of racetrack and adequate shutdown area followed by a 400 foot, pea-gravel pit at the end in case of emergency.
  • More than 750 pit spaces for racers, grass parking areas with asphalt access roads throughout the pits.
  • State-of-the-art, amphitheater-style grass seating along both sides of the entire track with an additional 6,000 bleacher seats (3,000 on each side of the starting line) that were previously used at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
  • Control tower with two suites for corporate partners and guests on the second level.
  • State-of-the-art Musco lighting throughout the facility.
  • Handicap accessibility including designated parking areas.
  • Sunoco Racing Fuels on site this weekend.


With major population centers such as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton, Akron and Toledo, Ohio in addition to Erie, Pa., within a three-hour drive, Dragway 42 is positioned perfectly to draw major crowds of spectators to its events.

“The New 42 is a unique experience for spectators in that the track sits between two 40-foot hills as if the track is in a valley,” Gary Harper said.  “The spectators watch from the sides and it creates a completely different visual experience.  Because of our convenient location, racers and spectators come to Dragway 42 from many different areas.”

The upcoming IHRA Summit Sportsman National Championship two-race weekend will determine champions in the Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, Super Stock, Stock, Quick Rod, Super Rod, Hot Rod and Junior Dragster classes. Champions in all classes except Junior Dragster will take home a $15,000 championship bonus courtesy of Summit Racing Equipment while the Junior Dragster champion will earn $2,000 for a national title. 

In addition, two lucky champions will win a vacation on the island of Aruba. To determine which champions can pack their bags for Aruba, a blind draw will be held prior to the start of the final event. 

“We’re working hard to get Dragway 42 ready for the last weekend of the Summit Sportsman National Championship,” Harper said.  “Most of our focus is on making general improvements for the racers and the experience they’ll have when they’re here this weekend. We’re honored that so many racers will clinch championships at Dragway 42 during the final weekend of the Summit Sportsman National Championship.  I’m sure winner’s circle will be an exciting place to be on Sunday.”

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