Houston-area drag strip is dumping ground for 30,000 (and counting) Hurricane Harvey-damaged vehicles


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For the next six months, Royal Purple Raceway, a staple on the NHRA schedule, is stepping up in the effort to help the Hurricane Harvey-ravaged Houston area.

The raceway has offered up its 400-acre facility to serve as a temporary holding, storage and processing facility for tens of thousands of vehicles damaged in Hurricane Harvey. The site of the NHRA SpringNationals is located in the Houston suburb of Baytown.

Track vice president and general manager Seth Angel tells Autoweek that as many as 30,000 vehicles have been brought to the track, and more are arriving daily. Once at Royal Purple, insurance adjusters assess the damage to each vehicle and process claims.

From there, the cars are either returned to their owners, sold online or designated for demolition. Texas-based Copart, which specializes in auctions of salvaged vehicles, is working with Royal Purple in this undertaking.

One media estimate put the number of damaged vehicles from the hurricane at more than half a million.



Royal Purple art - pic 2

There won’t be any racing at Royal Purple Raceway until the spring after track officials stepped up to do their part in the community’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey.


“It’s been a wild past few weeks,” Angel says. “Copart needs places to store all the cars. Insurance adjusters simply can’t go to every car across the city. It’s going to be a very long process.”

Angel offered to help after he was contacted by Alex Knapp at Old Bridge Raceway in New Jersey. Old Bridge Raceway, another facility which hosts the NHRA, served in a similar capacity after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast in 2012.

Royal Purple, which suffered only minor flood damage in the storm, is giving up its September, October and November schedule of races to store the many vehicles. The raceway’s contract with Copart calls for the speedway to be cleared of the cars and back open for racing by the end of February. Angel adds that no employees are being laid off due to the temporary shutdown, and the speedway is working on its 2018 schedule.

“It’s a slower time of the year for us, and we feel that the pros outweigh the cons,” Angel said. “We’ve been operating for more than 30 years. Six months is not a lot of time.

“We’re just doing our small little bit to help.”



Royal Purple pick 3

Cars continue to stream into the Royal Purple facility.




Mike Pryson



Mike Pryson



– Mike Pryson covered auto racing for the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot and M-Live Media Group from 1991 until joining Autoweek as online motorsports editor In 2012. Promoted to motorsports editor in 2015.

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