NHRA Reunion Won't Return to Bowling Green

By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

"It certainly is a tragedy for Beech Bend not just for Beech Bend, but for the community," said Dallas Jones, the owner of Beech Bend Park.

Jones got the news Wednesday that the National Hot Road Association Reunion will not be coming to Bowling Green next year. The event has been held here for the last four years.

"It is Bowling Green's largest event in tourism, by far. We would estimate between four to million dollars economic impact each year for that event," said Vicki Fitch.

The NHRA told Vicki Fitch they were disappointed to leave the community, but that their participants were unhappy with having to wait over two hours to get into the event this year. The increased wait is due to the closing of the road near Beech Bend Park. Matt Baker, whose property neighbors the park, filed the lawsuit to close the road and make it a private drive.

"They literally went out and blocked the road and it created a tremendous logistic nightmare for us. We're here today on Thursday a day before the event and it's created a huge burden from an expense standpoint, from a safety standpoint," said Charlie Harmon.

Harmon is the president of the second largest event at Beach Bend and says as much as they love the Bowling Green community he isn't sure they will be able to return for their ninth year. Especially since Baker recently filed a suit requesting Beech Bend Park stop all operations as an amusement park, campground, and raceway.

"We have to work with what we have and that's what we're doing here. Whether we're going to be able to return, I don't know, but unfortunately right now, the odds aren't too good," said Harmon.

"I don't think I ever take happiness in anyone else's misfortune. But that's really not the issue, it hasn't been the issue, and it won't be the issue. The issue is me and my family standing up for our property rights. That's what I've done and that's what I will continue to do," said Matt Baker.

Fitch says the tourism and convention center is already looking at events to fill the void that will be left by NHRA but it will be hard to make up for the four to five million dollar economic contribution and if the park loses more events or shuts down that could further hurt the economy. As for Jones, he hopes the park he has owned since 1984 does not get shut down and that the NHRA will call Bowling Green home again.

"Hopefully we'll get it back someday, but I don't know when," said Jones.


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