Drag Illustrated Issue 177, July / August 2022 - Page 44

Dirt

TRIBUTES

Bill Bader Sr . 1943-2022

One of the first things people noticed about Bill Bader Sr . when he walked into a room was his smile .

It was gargantuan , it was genuine , and it was a great greeting that was meant for everyone there , whether he knew them or not .
It was sincere , and it showed that he was a people person who was encouraged and energized by exchanges that he had with those from all walks of life . He enjoyed hearing about them , their families , their beliefs and their hopes and
By Mary Lendzion
dreams , and he built bonds with them . It didn ’ t seem to matter where it was , or what time of the day or night it was .
Those are just a few of the many traits that Bill Sr . was celebrated for ever since he opened Norwalk Raceway Park , now Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk , Ohio , decades ago .
He considered racers , race fans , entertainers , musicians , media members , neighbors , politicians , police officers , and so many others to be close friends .
He comforted them when they needed to be comforted , and they comforted him when he needed to be comforted . He gave them advice , and he gathered their advice . He celebrated milestones with them , and he cemented memories with them , while out and about in his community in both Norwalk , Ohio , and Riggins , Idaho .
Even those who didn ’ t know Bill Sr . personally knew that he was a powerful promoter who was willing to go above and beyond – way , way beyond – to enthrall and entertain everyone who entered Summit Motorsports Park .
The stories of his antics are endless , and often include what he asked 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force , jet engine-powered truck driver Bob Motz and many others , to do to surprise , or shock , fans at the annual Cornwell Tools Night Under Fire and other events . They obliged , despite the outrageous and over-the-top requests , because they trusted him , his intuition , and his vision , and because they respected him .
While Bill Sr . proudly wore a Summit Motorsports Park uniform for most events , he wore a Halloween costume for the annual Halloween Classic presented by Harland Sharp . Piles of pictures prove that some of them were doozies , but that just further endeared him to his racers and race fans .
Through the years , Bill Sr . proved that he wanted to , and was able to , stay several steps ahead when something went awry at events at Summit Motorsports Park . Unfortunate occurrences were overridden by the composure that helped Bill Sr . steer and stay on course throughout his entire career , and made him one of the most celebrated track owners and promoters in the country .
But above all of that , Bill Sr . was a family man whose love for the entire Bader family , and pride in the entire Bader family , shined as bright as the stars over the famous facility that he adored and was acclaimed for . He cherished them , and his love for them could be seen in the way he talked to them , looked at them , hugged them , cared about them , believed in them , and trusted them as they carried on his legacy with an astonishing amount of devotion and dedication .
From the moment Bill Sr . passed away at the age of 79 after an accident on his property in Idaho on the afternoon of June 26 , the community has collectively wrapped their arms around the Bader family . There have been thousands of visits , phone calls , emails and text messages from people offering condolences , comfort , support and personal stories of Bill Sr . and Summit Motorsports Park . Each and every one of them has been monumentally meaningful to the Bader family , and to the Summit Motorsports Park family .
Bill Sr . would want the show to go on , and the show will go on . He would want people to be entertained , and people will be entertained . He would want his family and team members to continue to ensure an exceptional experience for everyone who enters America ’ s Racetrack , and that , too , will happen .
And as it does , Bill Sr . will continue to be in our hearts , and his words of wisdom will continue to be our inspiration . DI
PHOTOGRAPH BY COLE ROKOSKY
44 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 177