The 2022 Pontiac Nationals

The Pontiac Nationals, an annual drag racing event, is held at the Summit Motorsport Park near Norwalk, Ohio. This year marked the 31st anniversary of the event.

After a few years away, I again made the trip to watch the massive gathering of Pontiacs (and a few GMCs) take to the track and take in the sounds of engines and the smell of burnt rubber. Returning to this track felt like seeing an old friend.

THE EVENT

The Pontiac Nationals is a three-day event that features drag racing and more. Some of the fastest Pontiacs in the world come to compete.

A lot is happening at the Nationals aside from the racing. For example, there’s the Car Corral, where cars for sale are displayed, a car show, a vendor’s row, and a swap meet. The classic rock playing over the PA system helped to set the tone. On Friday, there was a wheelie competition (which I unfortunately missed).

The swap meet was expansive and offered everything from new and used car parts to garage art. It’s a great place to find stuff to get that project finished.

There was a lot going on and a lot to see. I found myself caught between trying to see everything and trying not to miss anything.

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Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick

Once again, drag racing pioneer and Pontiac racing legend Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick appeared with his Tameless Tiger II GTO drag car. One of his earlier cars was even on display. I always look forward to seeing the iconic racer in person.

This 1963 Catalina was driven by Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick

THE TRACK

Located just east of the small city of Norwalk, Summit Motorsport Park is over 50 years. The quarter-mile track, founded in 1963, hosts various events throughout the year.

CAR SHOW

The car show brought out some awe-inspiring cars. In addition, it was an excellent opportunity to get a close-up look at some iconic Pontic models from the brand’s storied history.

From Firebirds to Bonnevilles, there was a little bit of everything. Several GMCs entered the show as well. In all, there were over 1,000 vehicles in the show.

This 1989 Turbo Trans Am is a rare sight
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DRAG RACING

The drag racing featured multiple classes and some seriously fast competitors. I was fortunate enough to witness a 200 mph plus pass. Seeing a run down the track in person at over 200 mph helps you comprehend how mind-bendingly fast that is.

A 1964 GTO on the track
A show-quality GT-37 at the starting line
The Pontiac Nationals saw some extreme cars, like this doorslammer Firebird
It’s not every day you see a rail with a Pontiac motor.
An early Trans Am launches down the track

The cool, overcast day made for some great performance, but there was also a persistent possibility of rain that threatened to put an end to the day’s racing.

Aside from the race cars, it was cool to see relatively stock cars getting in on the action on the drag strip. Bracket racing rules allowed the less modified machines to be competitive.

Newer Pontiacs were represented as well. It was fun to watch the newer GTOs and G8s taking to the track alongside much older machines.

A classic Firebird Formula and a late-model G8 square off

It was always exciting to see what was pulling up to the line next. Several classes made me appreciate the earplugs I got at the track giftshop.

Walking through the pits was like a car show in and of itself, only you got to hear the rumble of cars as they headed for the starting line.

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Nostalgia Super Stock

Nostalgia Super Stock, founded in 1989, is an organization that brings heads-up drag racing with period-correct race cars to tracks around the Midwest. Not only are they fast, but the cars featured are incredibly beautiful, show-quality machines. Watching them line up was like going back in time for a few seconds.

One of the races on their annual schedule was held at the Pontiac Nationals. They fit right in alongside the Pontiacs.

The Nostalgia Super Stock cars put on a great show
Amazing cars were a common sight in the pits

The Trucks

Pontiacs weren’t the only cars having fun on the dragstrip. Several GMC trucks, including a dually, competed in the drag racing.  As with the stock vehicles, it was fun to see the GMCs make passes down the track.

Pontiacs weren’t the only vehicles on the track, as this GMC dually demonstrates
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WRAPPING UP

Even though the discontinuation of Pontiac happened years ago, it is great to see that the enthusiasm for the brand remains strong.

Whether they brought their cars to the car show or the drag strip, they are doing their part to keep the brand that means so much to so many people alive. In addition, over 10,000 spectators came out to enjoy the show.

For more information on the Pontiac Nationals, please visit their website. You can learn more about Nostalgia Super Stock at their official website. In addition, Summit Motorsport Park’s website can be seen here. Finally, click here to see my blog on the 2018 Pontiac Nationals.

Did you attend the Pontiac Nationals? Let me know in the comments!

One response to “The 2022 Pontiac Nationals”

  1. John cunningham Avatar
    John cunningham

    I loved the pictures and description of the Nostalgia Super Stocks. Could be straight out of Hot Rod Magazine circa 1968.

    Liked by 1 person

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