Topeka returns to NHRA schedule; Stephens named GM by new owners

NHRA officials have announced an agreement with Heartland Park Topeka’s new ownership group, Heartland Park Topeka, LLC, led by Chris Payne and Todd Crossley.

The 28th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals will be contested May 20-22, 2016. The event, which will be televised live on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), will be race No. eight in the regular season, bringing the season total of events for the NHRA Mello Yello Series to 24.
In addition to back-to-back divisional events in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series in late July, NHRA will offer a full menu of sportsman racing action at Heartland Park Topeka, including the NHRA Summit Racing Series, NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League, NHRA Jr. Street and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA.

Veteran drag strip owner/operator Todd Stephens has been named General Manager and VP of Facility and Operations at Heartland Park Topeka effective Jan. 4, 2016. He will oversee the day-to-day operations at the 650+ acre facility that includes a quarter-mile dragstrip, a 2.5-mile road course and a dirt oval track.

A 44-year veteran in the industry, Stephens owned and operated Paris Drag Strip in Paris, TX, as well as built and currently co-owns and operates Thunder Valley Dragway in Noble, OK.

Kansas City real estate developer Payne and his Shelby LLC partner, Crossley, took ownership of the HPT property December 17 after Minnesota businessman Jim Farnum and his group, Heartland USA LLC, terminated its agreement to purchase the track.

“It’s exciting for everybody,” Payne said. “My partner and I are ex-racers and still involved in racing to this extent and we see a lot of opportunity, not just for racing, but for development out there with things that surround racing.”